Bazaars, bartering and Turkish delight
FOOTBALL: To 'Hell' and back proved more of a stroll. Glenn Moore reflects on a momentous few days for the English champions
United arrive just after midday to find their flight is delayed. They sign autographs, conduct interviews and finally fly out about 3pm. Champagne, courtesy we think of Martin Edwards, is dispensed to the press. Your correspondent, keenly aware of The Independent's policy on freebies, refuses.
Actually, I'm just as aware of United's cut of the near pounds 1,000 price of this trip to subsidise their costs and decide the champers is hardly free. Cheers Martin.
The much-heralded chanting mob appear to have taken the night off. Instead we have curious German tourists asking for autographs and eager Turkish TV crews seeking interviews. The keenest, having tried and failed with Eric Cantona, attempts to interview his "minder'', Ned Kelly, who is said to be a former SAS soldier.
A man of few words, Kelly is famous for replying to one question: "I could answer that, but then I would have to kill you.'' It is not clear if he was joking. The television reporter does not get her interview.
When United last came to the land of John Gorman lookalikes, they stayed in a magnificent former Sultan's palace, which had been converted into a vast luxury hotel. That is booked, so they move to the Conrad. The press are thus bumped down the chain to the Hilton.
Obviously, it is still pretty good although the fitness-conscious media are dismayed to find the gym closed for refurbishment. The outdoor pool is open but, as The Daily Telegraph correspondent discovers in the morning, it is not as warm as the sunshine suggests.
A perusal of the television channels discovers goal highlights of that night's Sunderland-Middlesbrough game.
The covered bazaar
Said to be the largest covered market in Europe, the bazaar is full of Fenerbahce supporters. Last time they were Galatasaray. Amazing what traders will say to strike up conversation with a possible buyer. A few wallets and boxes of Turkish delight are bartered for. Mark Lawrenson, here for BBC Radio Five, is not tempted by a line of natty waistcoats - despite the knowledge that his luggage is still en route. British Airways managed to lose it between Heathrow and Manchester.
The Turkish Sportswriters' Association and Sports Club
Afternoon press conference at the local press club. Expecting a dingy bar, like most English equivalents, we are staggered to discover a complex containing swimming pool, restaurant, ballroom, gym, tennis and basketball courts. All funded by government money, including the "last chance saloon''. Except a journalist failing a last chance here is likely to result in jail. And we've all seen Midnight Express...
Journalistic ethics are prominent in a long press conference involving multiple translations. Both managers say predictable things then Jes Hogh, Fenerbahce's Danish defender, criticises an English Sunday tabloid reporter who interviewed him last week. "I'm pissed off, he set me up," says Hogh, who claims his comments on the security and subsequent safety of Turkish grounds have been "twirled'' into a "death threats'' piece. Credit to Hogh for still being prepared to talk to the English press who, knowing the culprit, react with a mixture of sadness and hilarity. As usual, Ferguson is Manchester United's only representative.
The "city of hate'' stories which you may have read elsewhere become increasingly ludicrous. After turning down a restaurateur who begs "If you don't eat here, I'll shave my moustache off", we find ourselves in one run by dedicated football fans. They treat us royally. The manager, a Galatasaray fanatic, shows us a photograph of Graeme Souness eating there and gives us a bottle of wine to take back to him.
More shopping, more mosques. That's for the press, the players see nothing of this. Lawrenson (whose clothes have still not arrived) says players are criticised for sitting in their hotel rooms and playing cards but that they have little choice. They are here to play football and sightseeing, amid crowds, is not good preparation.
A vibrant atmosphere, stoked by a renegade public address system, fails to intimidate United. The written press are equally pleased, the story's good, the facilities - once the telephones have been installed - excellent.
Even a stone thrown through the window of their coach has not spoiled United's night, though mutual exhaustion means the flight home is a quiet one for both players and press. We collect our bags at about 4am (6am Turkish time) and head wearily for home or hotel.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on Monday but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Angel Di Maria and Marcos Rojo could miss Manchester United's crucial Champions League play-off due to Copa America run
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Nick Kyrgios fans show their support by smearing Vegemite and Nutella on their faces amid Wimbledon run
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...