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Man United v Chelsea: A Visit to Old Trafford

Today is a convenient time to wrap up my articles about the EPL Talk Tour that I took in November. The tour took me to England for five matches in 10 days, where I reported my experiences via the blog, podcast and Flickr account.

The last day of my journey was to Old Trafford to see Manchester United against Chelsea.

It’s incredible to think how much has happened since that 1-1 match and today. It was my first visit inside Old Trafford. In 1995, I visited the stadium during the offseason but found the stadium tour sold out, so I went into the megastore and museum instead.

In fact, that was the first thing I noticed. How much the outside of Old Trafford had changed in just over 10 years. The megastore had moved from outside the ground to inside the stadium.

Arriving at Old Trafford this time approximately four hours before the match, I strolled around the outside of the ground taking in the sights and looking for unsuspecting fans to interview for the EPL Talk Podcast. There were plenty of people to choose from as hundreds of fans were already there.

While Stamford Bridge is crammed inside an expensive part of west London without much additional space (other than the Chelsea hotel), Old Trafford and the surrounding space (including parking lots) is absolutely massive. It’s incredible to think how this ground has been transformed over the decades without losing any of its character.

Fast forwarding to the match, I entered Old Trafford with one of my best friends from Wales (who drove up for the match) about 30 minutes before kickoff. Walking up the steps and into the theatre of dreams was a beautiful sight to see. A sea of red seats, a bright green pitch and a massive stadium that wrapped around me.

The match itself wasn’t a classic. Both teams cancelled each other out with United controlling the first half and the Blues controlling the second. What surprised me the most, despite the 76,000+ fans, was the lack of noise. There were many spells during this game when the sound disappeared and all that could be heard were murmurs. If the fans can’t get excited about a game of this magnitude, it’s a sorry state indeed.

The Chelsea fans in the away end created an impressive sound. Throughout my EPL Talk tour, I was impressed by all of the away supporters I saw at matches (Bolton, Spurs, Hamburg, Reading and now Chelsea). It’s more expensive due to travel and other expenses, but if I was living in the UK again, I’d rather be an away supporter travelling with the die-hard fans than be at home to hear the relative silence.

Still, Old Trafford was an impressive experience overall. The history was there (the clock displayed on the outside of the stadium in memory of the Munich Air Disaster). The stadium facilities were excellent. Overall, the entire experience of visiting Old Trafford was a pleasure.

Here’s a map of the stadiums that EPL Talk visited during the tour (see below). Click on the map to zoom in for close-ups of the stadiums, etc.

sshot 3 Man United v Chelsea: A Visit to Old Trafford

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

3 Responses to Man United v Chelsea: A Visit to Old Trafford

  1. Anonymous says:

    You state that the lack of noise surprised you when you visited old trafford. Perhaps it’s because so many people are there to visit the stadium (like you) and cross it off their list of things done.

    Perhaps if you let real fans attend instead of taking up a ticket and contributing squat all to the atmosphere then the noise levels around old trafford would be improved.

  2. Pingback: If Only Home Supporters Could Behave Like Away Fans | EPL Talk

  3. ade4alldrms73@yahoo.com says:

    ronaldo should go to real

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