Manchester United have barred players from stopping to sign autographs at one of the entrances to the club’s training ground amid safety fears.
A large sign has been erected near the rear entrance to their Carrington base telling supporters that players are no longer permitted to stop in their cars due to “danger on the road”.
Large crowds of autograph hunters regularly congregate near what is a blind bend at the junction of Sinderland Lane and Birch Road, from where the training base can be accessed, and United are increasingly concerned about the threat that poses to those fans’ safety.
It is not uncommon for groups of as many as 50 supporters to gather in the summer holidays especially and the club have taken the decision that the situation poses too great a safety risk to be allowed to continue.
The large crowds also present issues for the local farm and residents that United are mindful of.
The newly erected sign reads:
“Players are not permitted to stop and sign autographs due to danger on the road. No congregating.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, and forward Daniel James were pictured leaning out of their cars to stop to sign autographs on Wednesday.
Fans will still be able to gather for autographs at the other entry point to Carrington on Isherwood Road but United feel they have been left with no other choice but to enforce the ban on the Birch Road side.
Solskjaer is hoping United will finally be able to call upon a settled defence this season as they bid to atone for last season’s struggles.
United have frequently been forced to chop and change at the back due to injuries and poor form in recent years but, with the arrival of right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and centre-half Harry Maguire during the summer, Solskjaer is looking forward to having a more familiar line-up in defence.
United face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Monday after an impressive 4-0 win at home to Chelsea in their opening Premier League match.
“Any successful team will have to build from the back and have a foundation to play from,” Solskjaer said. “We always say ‘you have to earn the right to win a game of football’. You earn it by defending well, you have a foundation and hopefully a settled team.
“Hopefully, we won’t have to make too many changes. Over the last few years, I’ve always had the feeling there’s been so many players with bad luck concerning injuries. Both Jose [Mourinho] and Louis [van Gaal], maybe even David [Moyes], had to chop and change the back four, especially the centre-backs. Hopefully we can get a settled line-up.”
Meanwhile, Hans-Joachim Watzke has admitted he knocked back an approach for Jadon Sancho in spring but has left the door open for the England winger to potentially leave Borussia Dortmund next summer. United are thought to have been deterred from moving for Sancho this summer by Dortmund’s insistence that it would take a bid of well over £100 million for them to consider parting company with the player.
“A chief of one of the super clubs asked me back in spring if there was a chance [to sign Sancho] but I told him straight away he should forget about it and he never contacted me again,” Watzke said. “He knew I meant what I said. There aren’t many 19-year-olds with such a potential.
“He is also not a player from the region or one who would have any connection to it. When you have a player like Jadon Sancho, you must reassess the situation every single year. Everything else would not be honest. If a foreign player is not convinced that the club is right for him at the exact time, it just does not make any sense.”