Ander Herrera has discussed how the Manchester United squad felt during the bomb scare at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Bomb disposal experts called in by Greater Manchester Police carried out a controlled explosion after a suspect package was found in toilets shortly before the scheduled kick-off of United’s clash against Bournemouth on Sunday.
The discovery of the item, described by the bomb disposal unit as an “incredibly lifelike explosive device”, prompted a full-scale security alert and the complete evacuation of the stadium.
It was later confirmed that the device “wasn’t viable” and it emerged that it was a fake bomb that had not been removed after a recent training exercise at the ground which involved sniffer dogs and which was conducted by a private firm.
United players were the last to leave the stadium after fans and the media were evacuated, and Herrera conducted an interview with Spanish radio while still in Old Trafford.
“We are still in the dressing room and it seems we’ll be the last ones to leave the stadium,” Herrera told Tiempo de Juego. “It has been very tense and we have all been nervous.”
Greater Manchester’s police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd has demanded an inquiry into the “fiasco” which led to Manchester United’s final Premier League game of the season being abandoned because of what turned out to be a fake bomb left behind after a training exercise.
Lloyd, who is also the interim mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It is outrageous this situation arose and a full inquiry is required to urgently find out how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.
“This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the army’s bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk.
“Whilst this in no way demeans the professionalism of the police and stewards responsible for getting the fans out, or the supporters’ calmness and co-operation during the evacuation, it is unacceptable that it happened in the first place.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also promised to carry out an investigation.
United, as a goodwill gesture, will offer supporters inconvenienced a refund and a free ticket for the rearranged game at 8pm on Tuesday.
It first became apparent there was an issue around 2.40pm when an announcement was made for security staff to invoke ‘operation red code’. The Stretford End and the Sir Alex Ferguson stand – either side of the north-west quadrant where the item was discovered – were evacuated.
At around 3.15pm supporters in the other two sides of the ground were told the game had been abandoned and were also advised to leave. The evacuation was conducted swiftly and safely.
Woodward said: “The safety of fans is always our highest priority.
“I’d like to thank the support from the police which was first class and the impeccable response from fans of both teams.
“The club takes security very seriously and staff are regularly trained with the police and emergency services to identify and deal with these incidents.
“We will investigate the incident to inform future actions and decisions.”
The bomb disposal team entered after most of the stadium was cleared and the controlled explosion was carried out at 4.30pm.