Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has called for unity amid fears of protests against the Glazer family before Monday’s game with Liverpool.
Up to 10,000 supporters are expected to make their feelings known, ending outside Old Trafford before kick-off.
New United boss Ten Hag says he has not been at the club long enough to fully understand the fans’ discontent.
But the Dutchman added: “I can only say the owners want to win and we want the fans behind the club.”
The discontent dates back to the Glazers’ takeover of the club in 2005 but there have been multiple protests against the Americans’ ownership in recent years – including one in May 2021 which caused a match against Liverpool to be postponed.
“I am not that long in the club to see all the background but we have to fight together and be unified,” said Ten Hag, who took charge this summer.
Ratcliffe expresses interest
The latest protests will come at the end of a tumultuous week at Old Trafford.
Simmering frustration about summer recruitment boiled over after last weekend’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at Brentford, which sent the club to the foot of the Premier League.
Former director Michael Knighton said he was planning to lead a hostile takeover of the club.
While that public announcement wasn’t taken seriously, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s spokesman said that the lifelong fan and billionaire owner of the Ineos global chemical company would be interested in buying the club if it was for sale.
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, also said he was joking after tweeting he was going to buy United.
It then became apparent the Glazer family were looking at selling part of the club in order to fund extensive redevelopment projects both at Old Trafford and United’s training ground.
That has created a feverish atmosphere around the club, with many believing they can force the Glazer family out.
‘I didn’t see a fighting attitude’
Ten Hag has to manage his team round this after becoming the first United boss to start his reign with successive defeats in more than a century.
The former Ajax boss says he has gone through a full analysis of the embarrassment at Brentford but that detailed observations are made almost pointless by the brutal reality that his side did not work hard enough.
“I was definitely not happy,” said Ten Hag, who scrapped a planned day off on Sunday because of his frustration at the defeat.
“You can talk about football, about the plan and about a philosophy but it starts with the basic stuff; the right attitude, a fighting attitude and I didn’t see that from minute one. Obviously, a lot went wrong but we don’t have to talk about anything when the attitude is not right.”
Anthony Martial has recovered from a hamstring injury and is in contention, while Ten Hag also has a major selection issue in central defence, where £50m new-boy Lisandro Martinez has endured a wretched time since his arrival from Ajax.
It is possible Martinez could be moved into midfield, to allow Raphael Varane to return to play alongside United captain Harry Maguire.
Ten Hag refused to discuss United’s pursuit of Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, even though Carlo Ancelotti confirmed the Brazilian is almost certain to leave the club for “a new challenge” and hasn’t been named in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Celta Vigo.
And he avoided the question when asked if he could be certain Cristiano Ronaldo would be at United after the transfer window closes on 1 September.
Some senior figures have concluded the club cannot move forward properly until Ronaldo has been granted his wish to leave United.
The Portugal forward’s influential agent Jorge Mendes is trying to get a deal sorted, with Ronaldo himself saying he will outline “the truth” when he gives an interview in a fortnight.
In the meantime, Ten Hag is sticking to his previous statements on the 37-year-old.
“He’s in our plans,” he said. “That is what I can say.”