Jose Mourinho made a fresh enemy in Manchester following his team’s 0-0 draw with Valencia at Old Trafford: the Greater Manchester Police.
The 55-year-old, speaking after a painful stalemate, hit out at the GMP for refusing to provide a police escort for Manchester United’s coach ahead of the meeting with Valencia, which meant kick-off was pushed back by five minutes after the team was delayed getting to the ground.
“We left the hotel at six o’clock hoping that 30 minutes would be enough, which it normally is, but this time the police refused to do an escort so we came by ourselves and we took from the Lowry hotel 75 minutes minutes,” he said.
“Uefa were nice, the referee was nice to allow us to start the game five minutes later because we at least needed half hour to be prepared but it was not a problem with the club organisation. We anticipate everything that it could be dangerous, in the sense of arriving late, but we were informed the police refused an escort.”
Chief Inspector Andy Sutcliffe, GMP’s Silver Commander for the fixture, has responded by claiming that a review of core responsibilities over the summer ruled that police escorts for team coaches were no longer a given for each game, and would only be carried out if intelligence suggested there was a threat to players.
“All police deployments are carried out following a comprehensive risk assessment process and, specifically in respect of escort team buses, are only ever undertaken on occasions when there is intelligence or information to suggest a risk of threat or harm to the players.
“GMP has previously used police vehicles to accompany a team’s coach but after a review of our core policing responsibilities, it was decided that we would no longer provide this service at every fixture.
“We consulted with the relevant football clubs over a period of months to allow them adequate time to plan ahead for their journeys to the stadium.
“Every fixture is assessed individually and we will continue to work with all clubs to provide an appropriate policing response.”