BANGKOK (Reuters) – Hundreds of Thai fans of Manchester United Football Club cheered the squad on Saturday as they arrived at a Bangkok airport for a friendly match with fierce rivals Liverpool next week.
“United! United!” they shouted when the English Premier League side arrived.
Fans were disappointed about Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence but found excitement over the new coach, Erik ten Hag, who was joined by midfielder Bruno Fernandes, goalkeeper David De Gea and forward Marcus Rashford in leading the arrivals.
“I’m a bit disappointed that Ronaldo did not join the trip. I still admire him though, because he’s my idol,” said Nadthapong O. Charoenkul, 32, who was among the first in line at Don Muang airport.
Manchester United and Liverpool play on Tuesday, the Southeast Asian nation’s first overseas match since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Liverpool are expected to arrive at noon (0500 GMT) on Sunday.
The pre-season friendly is part of the teams’ tours before the English Premier League season begins next month. United will then go on to Melbourne and Liverpool to Singapore.
“Erik ten Hag is an inspiration to the team. There are lots of rules that players have to adapt to the new coach and new strategies,” said Nadthapong, who has supported the team since 1999. The coach “will manage to bring the team to second place in the upcoming season”.
Organisers sold tickets for as much as 25,000 baht ($700) to the match, scheduled to feature a performance by Jackson Wang of K-POP boy band GOT7.
(This story corrects spelling to Nadthapong, not Adthapong, in paras 4,7)
(Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by William Mallard)