Jose Mourinho keen to ‘focus on what we love’ ahead of Anderlecht game
Manchester United manager expresses solidarity after Dortmund attack
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho at a press conference at Constant Vanden Stock stadium ahead of the Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht. Photograph: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA
Jose Mourinho expressed solidarity with those impacted by the Dortmund bomb attack, but will not allow the shocking incident to disrupt Manchester United’s focus ahead of the Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht.
Three explosions occurred as Borussia Dortmund’s team bus made its way to Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday, with defender Marc Bartra requiring surgery.
Uefa said “security procedures will be enhanced accordingly wherever needed” ahead of Wednesday’s matches, while Thursday’s Europa League quarter-finals pose another security issue.
United’s trip to Belgian side Anderlecht is among those matches and Mourinho vowed not to be cowed or thrown off kilter by the Dortmund attack.
“Well, I try not to think much about it,” the manager said ahead of the first leg in Brussels. “I try to focus on our job and to focus on what we love, which is to play.
“This is a quarter-final and we have to be focused on it and that’s what we are trying to do.
“Obviously there is solidarity with what happened yesterday, with the player that cannot play today, with the people that were scared.
“We have to trust the people that are working for our security.
“We have to believe that the match will just be what people want it to be, which is a very good match. I repeat, I try just to focus on the football.”
Anderlecht’s press officer said in their pre-match conference that they were “prepared” security-wise, before winger Massimo Bruno called for unity.
“We are footballers and we must go on playing,” he said.
“We have to think of something else and stick together and hope everything will be safe here tomorrow.”
Brussels has been subject to higher security since March 22nd last year, when co-ordinated attacks in the city killed 32 and injured many more.
Increased measures mean the city and all public events within it are subject to enforced security procedures, including army presence, extra security sweeps and controls.
Manchester United arrived in the Belgian capital on Wednesday afternoon and, as always, had been in contact with the Consulate and local authorities.
The mood around Anderlecht’s Constant Vanden Stock Stadium is calm on the eve of the quarter-final clash and travelling fans were advised of increased security measures before the attack in Dortmund.
A message on United’s official website told supporters they will be “searched on arrival, at the turnstiles by police” and ticket checks will take place at various points, while also pointing out the strict no bag policy due to “concerns over terrorist incidents”.
The information also said: “Fans without tickets are being told not to travel as they will not get into the stadium.
“Belgian police advise that all supporters without tickets on the territories of Anderlecht will be administratively arrested, by decision of the Mayor.”
Anderlecht posted a warning to supporters on the eve of the match reiterating the safety measures in place on Thursday.
A statement from the Belgian side said: “On the eve of the UEFA Europa League game against Manchester United, we would like to remind supporters of the security measures that are still in force at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium.
“These measures were taken in consultation with the Pro League, the police, the football team and the fan federations.
“Backpacks, handbags and plastic bags will not be allowed. There will be no organised deposit to accommodate them. This measure will apply to everyone: fans, VIPs, external firms, hostesses, etc. A zero tolerance applies.
“At the entrance of the stadium, all fans will have to undergo a systematic and thorough search. So we kindly ask all of our fans to come to the stadium well in advance.”