The much-anticipated meeting between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho has been put on hold.
The two managers were set to go head-to-head in China but the pitch at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium was deemed unplayable.
It means fans will have to wait until September 10 to witness the first meeting between Manchester City and Manchester United under new management.
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Guardiola and Mourinho had both expressed their concerns over the quality of the surface - citing potential injuries to their players - and so neither will be disheartened that the game has been cancelled.
Both clubs said “tournament organisers and clubs” decided to call the game off, capping a disastrous International Champions Cup tournament for United.
Images of the pitch have surfaced on social media. There was simply no way the players could play on this.
Mourinho will be happy
City will travel to Shenzhen on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s game against Borussia Dortmund. Gladly for Mourinho, the next stop for United is home.
The Portuguese cannot return to England quickly enough. He was forced to conduct his press conference outside on Sunday as too many people attempted to squeeze into a tiny, scorching room.
And a plane carrying some of United’s players had to make an unscheduled stop in Tianjin on Saturday after its original flight path was affected by storms in Beijing.
It’s fair to say the Red Devils won’t be returning to China anytime soon.
Only objective is to avoid injury
Mourinho cut an agitated figure as he criticised the pitch conditions yesterday.
"I think Beijing is unlucky because the pitch is very bad,” the 53-year-old said. “The condition of my players is more important than the results in pre-season.
"My only objective is to take the players home safe and without injury. These are no conditions to play a good game of football.
"If it was a friendly, it becomes a double friendly now. No injuries, play calm, play safe, go home and keep the preparation for next week. I hope our players and City's players can go home without injury."
City remain in China
Mourinho will get his wish. Guardiola, though, will be praying that the weather in Shenzhen isn’t nearly as torrential as it is in Beijing.
The City boss expressed similar sentiments to Mourinho when he met with the media. Playing United would have presented Guardiola with a good opportunity to measure how far along his team is but there would have been nothing to learn from a game in which players are simply trying to avoid injuries.
He’ll get a good look at his team’s progress on Thursday. Dortmund are well into their pre-season schedule and looked formidable in Friday’s 4-1 win over United.
Who will finish higher next season: United or City? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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