Diary accounts throughout this summer’s pre-season tour are being submitted by Peter Bolton, a well-known and respected individual within the Manchester United fanbase. You can follow Peter on Twitter (@PeterBolton3).
After the debacle at the airport in the morning – see last diary entry – we eventually got to Beijing.
A fantastic hotel overlooking the now famous Birds Nest Stadium.
Beijing was overcast, dull but also extremely hot. You would imagine that should help the pitch dry out.
After a quick shower and change (I certainly needed the shower in this humidity) we set off to see if we could find the nearby Olympic Sports Centre where the squad we going to be training.
Eventually with a bit of luck (and more walking than expected) we found the stadium which had 2 small single tier stands behind goals, 2 large 2-tier stands down sides and a running track around pitch.
A couple of thousand ‘invited guests only’ had arrived to watch the squad train. The problem being it was TICKET ONLY.
Decent size stadium but invited guests only?!
Trying to get a ticket was difficult – even though a couple of ‘locals’ tried to sell us some (1 @ £20 and others £30).
Eventually we managed to blag a pair for free.
The training session – split into three groups – was quite poor.
1) The two keepers (in the goals)
2) About twelve outfield players including Rooney – on the far side of the pitch in one group (guessing ten off these will be starters)
3) The rest of the group near the half way line (including Mata / Januzaj – about eight in total) – on the far side again!
I was really puzzled why both groups trained on the far side of the pitch – as far away as possible from the invited crowd.
Half way through the session it started raining – it didn’t bother the players or fans – but the security, press and ‘suits’ all started putting on those plastic macs that where hastily given out.
— Peter Bolton (@PeterBolton3) 24 July 2016
I think the session was cut short – even though the rain was only light. The players then walked off – in a straight line to the tunnel – without coming towards their ‘invited’ fans – who were desperate to see them close up.
They did wave as they waked off – but (to me) it was another missed opportunity. An extra 2 minutes of their time to walk around the running track in front of the fans would have made the fans night… but NO.
I keep reading on ManUtd.com this tour is ‘for the local fans’ but TWICE now – the players can’t be bothered to show their appreciation.
Straight down the tunnel after Dortmund (while the Dortmund players did a few minutes applauding in front off their very few fans). And now straight down the tunnel after an ‘open’ training session!
Just WHO is in charge of public relations at United?
After the session – we walked back to the hotel and enjoyed a nice evening in the TGI Fridays next door. It was another late night!
Match day tomorrow…
We had a lie in today as it is our last chance. It’s very warm and humid again with no sign of any rain despite reports.
Late morning we strolled down to The Birds Nest and around the Olympic Park & Gardens, which were very impressive. Everyone is looking forward to visiting West Ham to compare…
I returned to the hotel to shower and change for match (shorts and T-shirt combo again) and about 4pm we left for the stadium.
Security was really good with 100s (maybe 1000s) in lines, marching like soldiers.
We arrived at the fan zone park – still not knowing the game had been cancelled (no wifi outside hotel room).
We were told game had been cancelled due to rain and wet pitch despite being beautifully sunny with grassed areas in Olympic Park bone dry.
However, we later heard its was cancelled due to the state of pitch.
Ok – just been told it’s not called off for the rain – it’s the state of the pitch! pic.twitter.com/RcfTDjut55
— Peter Bolton (@PeterBolton3) 25 July 2016
Even the fan zone was closed. Loads of giveaways to be given out – T-shirts, scarfs, gifts, kiddie things, all sat in boxes and not going anywhere. I did find that quite unbelievable.
We just gave up and returned to our hotel – EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED!
We got invited to go and meet some other Reds at their hotel – so, another shower and taxi across town! A half hour taxi journey cost about £5 which made me thankful I’m not a cabbie out here.
Then a quite evening followed with Andy Mitten, Paddy Crerand, some London Reds and a really nice lad from Saudi Arabia. He was also disappointed.
Day 7 is a pre-booked tour to the Great Wall and other sights. For days 8 and 9 we’ve booked the Bullet Train to Xi’an to see the Other Red Army (Terracotta).
Day 10 is travelling back.
To put it into conclusion, 10,000 miles / 10 days & just 1 (rubbish) match!
So, next update will be Day 11 – Gothenburg
Hopefully that game will go ahead.