Man Utd vs City called off as China tour descends into farce

Beijing's Manchester derby cancelled over safety fears amid questions over the wisdom of pre-season tours to Asia

(Image credit: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Manchester United's pre-season tour of China has descended into farce after the highly-anticipated clash between Jose Mourinho and Manchester City's new boss Pep Guardiola was called off because of an unsafe pitch.

The pair were due to face each other for the first time in three years at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, and the renewal of their rivalry had generated much excitement. But during the build-up to the match, the two managers were in agreement, both stating that their players risked injury if they were to play.

And on Monday morning UK time, hours before kick off, the two clubs took the decision to call of the game off.

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"The unfit nature of the surface following recent heavy rain meant United and City were forced to train at the nearby Olympic Sports Village and both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were clear that their players could be injured when speaking on Sunday before Monday's game," reports The Guardian.

"Despite these valid concerns the decision not to play what would have been the first derby overseas is an embarrassment for each club."

But they had been left with little option, says the Daily Telegraph. "Torrential rain and thunderstorms over the past week had decimated the pitch at the national stadium and the problems were exacerbated by a fungus problem that involved large sections of the turf being dug up only for the replacement grass to be washed away by the downpours."

The shambles caps an unsatisfactory week in the Far East for Mourinho and his team, who fly back to Europe on Monday night as planned.

"The latest developments are likely to raise questions about the wisdom of leading European clubs coming to China for money-spinning commercial tours," says the Telegraph. "Aside from the dire pitch problems that led to Monday's cancellation of a game due to be watched by 50,000 fans, Mourinho and Guardiola have both admitted the oppressive humidity and heat in China have proven extremely inhibiting for players, who invariably find Asian tours a particularly draining experience."

United lost their opening fixture of the tour to Borussia Dortmund in Shanghai on Friday and some of the squad were then "lost", when their plane was diverted away from Beijing because of thunderstorms. The side then encountered more problems in the Chinese capital and on Sunday a press conference was called off because the room was "too hot".

"Mourinho has rarely looked happy during this week-long money-spinning jaunt to the Far East and in Beijing his mood reached its darkest point," reports The Times. "Thunderstorms, a pitch in terrible condition, a plane diversion, a rescheduled training session, news of poor ticket sales and a barrage of questions about Guardiola in a news conference all contributed to the Portuguese’s foul mood."

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