Juan Mata has described the strange and shocked feeling which Manchester United’s players had in the dressing room at Old Trafford on Sunday during the bomb scare.
After warming up, Man United’s squad was ushered back into the dressing room and remained there as a ‘Code Red’ was called around Old Trafford after a suspect package was found in the North West quadrant of the Stretford End.
The stadium was then completely evacuated, the match was abandoned and the suspicious package – which turned out to be a fake accidentally left behind by a training exercise – was destroyed in a controlled explosion.
Writing in his weekly blog, Mata offered insight into how the players felt: “Hi everyone.
“This is one of the weirdest blog entries I’ve written, and it’s been almost four years since I started this blog. What happened in Old Trafford this Sunday left all of us who were there absolutely shocked. You know, the game being postponed (we will finally play on Tuesday) after a suspect package -that we were told could be an explosive- was found in the stadium. Everybody in the security team did an effective job, resulting in a quick evacuation of the stadium. It helped not to spread panic around, although all of us had a very odd feeling; something like strain mixed with a lack of understanding. The fans left the stadium before we did; I think we left Old Trafford at around five, with the feeling that everything was already under control.
“I feel sorry for all those people who had to go back home without watching the game, because that’s what they had come for. Obviously, safety is always the top priority. But what I’m really sorry about is that this kind of issues affect football, sports and society in general. Many of us think that sport has the capability to unite people, and we must keep believing that.”
United’s stewards coped with the evacuation procedures very well in the circumstances but I can’t help but feel there will be wider repercussion from these events which could change football going forward from here. The fear of bombs inside Premier League grounds had always been there but this has brought it right to the surface and some people, both old and young, were visibly distressed at Old Trafford on Sunday.
It’s an awful state of affairs that fans take some fear with them when they go and watch their football team play but I expect security measures to now be increased across the Premier League in order to make sure everybody is prepared were the worst to happen.