news 2 days ago

Manchester United cancel midseason Middle East training camp due to safety fears

Sporting News — (Dan Bernstein)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed the club cancelled plans to hold its midseason training camp in the Middle East due to safety fears.

The region's warm weather is often seen as an ideal climate for footballers to rejuvenate and break up the European winter. 

MORE: USMNT cancels Qatar camp because of Middle East security concerns

Escalating military tensions between Iran and the United States caused the Red Devils to change course. The U.S. killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander, on Jan. 3. In response, Iran struck two U.S. bases in Iraq with ballistic missiles. European countries on Tuesday took a step toward imposing sanctions on Iran for recommitting to its nuclear energy program.

While Manchester United has not banned players from heading to Dubai, they have decided against taking the whole squad to the region, with Solskjaer conceding the current situation transcends on-field matters. 

"Yeah, if there is one thing that worries me it’s not on the football pitch," Solskjaer told reporters. "There are other things that will worry me more than football. We were looking at the Middle East but that is definitely not going to happen."

United are no strangers to the Middle East, with the club having spent time at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex in Dubai in 2018 and 2019. The Red Devils have also played three times in Qatar across the last decade.

Solskjaer's men still have five games to play before the midseason break, with the Red Devils currently fifth in the Premier League. 

They next face Wolves in a third round FA Cup replay on Wednesday before heading to Anfield to face league leaders Liverpool on Sunday. 

After going three games without a win, the Red Devils bounced back last time out with a convincing 4-0 victory against Norwich City.  

That result leaves the club five points shy of fourth-placed Chelsea and two points ahead of Sheffield United, who sit sixth. 

Omnisport contributed to this report.