Sunday 20 August 2017

'It is a pity we cannot fly with happiness' - Jose Mourinho confident Manchester 'will pull together' after terror attack

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho

Simon Peach

Jose Mourinho says the "hearts and minds" of everyone at Manchester United are with those affected by the horrific attack that killed 22 people and injured many more.

An explosion rocked the city on Monday evening when a bomb was let off at the end of a concert by pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena.

Greater Manchester Police has confirmed 22 people were killed and 59 injured in an attack that has shocked the world.

In the wake of the incident, UEFA accepted United's formal request to cancel their press conference ahead of the Europa League final, while the team held a minute's silence at training before flying to Sweden.

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for a bombing that United manager Mourinho says dominates their thoughts ahead of facing Ajax in Stockholm.

"We are all very sad about the tragic events last night; we cannot take out of our minds and our hearts the victims and their families," the Portuguese said.

"We have a job to do and we will fly to Sweden to do that job. It is a pity we cannot fly with the happiness that we always have before a big game.

"I know, even during my short time here, that the people of Manchester will pull together as one."

Old Trafford is closed to the public and United said in a statement that "club staff are ready to help the police and other emergency services in any way that may be required at this challenging time for our city".

Those sentiments were echoed by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward in an email to staff confirming the cancellation of Wednesday's Europa League party at the Victoria Warehouse.

"I am sure you will all have heard of the tragic and horrifying events in Manchester (on Monday) night," Woodward said. "Our thoughts go out to the victims and families affected.

"These senseless acts are designed to shake the confidence of people and to turn communities on each other.

"Members of our family of fans and our home community have been affected and we will be reaching out to provide the support of the club in what must be an unimaginably difficult time.

"Manchester is a resilient city and I am sure that its people will defy the wishes of those who have perpetrated this awful crime and demonstrate what a magnificent place this is.

"The club provides counselling and support services in times of crisis; please do not be afraid to ask if you have been affected.

"As a sign of respect for the victims and their families, we have decided that we should cancel the event planned for (Wednesday) evening. We are sure that in the circumstances you will all understand and support this decision."

It is unclear how the United players have been impacted before the Europa League final - a match that not only offers silverware but Champions League qualification.

Many of the squad took to social media to express their sympathy and solidarity after the attack.

United captain Wayne Rooney posted on Twitter: "Devastating news this morning. Thoughts and prayers are with all those affected."

Daley Blind said he "can't believe what happened last night", while Ashley Young said his thoughts were "with all that lost loved ones & prayers for those being treated in hospitals".

United winger Jesse Lingard said "this beautiful city" will "stand together in this dark hour", with team-mate Marcus Rashford posting prayer and heart emojis along with an image of Manchester.

David De Gea added: "Much rage, much pain. My condolences and support to the victims' family members involved in the atrocious attack to the heart of the city."

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