But Manchester United’s home of almost 107 years retains an aura all of its own. A seven-day-a-week tourist attraction that draws supporters in from all four corners of the globe, the self-styled ‘Theatre of Dreams’ has always seemed a step ahead of the rest in this country.
Hillsborough may have had the first large-scale modern cantilevered stand, taking inspiration from Scunthorpe United’s Old Show Ground. But Old Trafford’s sleek United Road Stand, complete with private executive boxes, was the true trendsetter in the Sixties.
Three decades or so later, the expansion upwards on three sides meant the stadium once again towered above its English brethren in a manner similar to how United’s home now dominates the south-west Manchester skyline.
The atmosphere is nothing like what it was in the days when the roar from the Stretford End was likened to a jet plane taking off at the then Ringway Airport but, for footballers, it remains a prized venue to tick off.
Many in Huddersfield Town colours will get that opportunity this afternoon, as David Wagner’s men make the short trip across the Pennines to tackle United.
Among those making their maiden voyage are Danish duo, Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen and Jonas Lossl. Both are relishing the chance to tread the same turf as Charlton, Best et al as the Terriers look to turn around a season that has begun to flag since the turn of the year. Neither, though, will be daunted by walking out at the 75,000 capacity arena.
“I am looking forward to this game,” admitted goalkeeper Lossl, on loan from German club Mainz 05, to The Yorkshire Post. “It is a fixture we all looked at back in the summer.
“Spectator-wise, I am not sure if Old Trafford is the biggest I will have played at. Maybe (Borussia) Dortmund beats it. I am not certain. But this will be a huge game for us as a club and a team. We need a good result.
“By beating United already this season, we have already proved it can be done. We have to be at our very best.
“When going to the big stadiums in Germany, the key for the smaller clubs is to have a plan and then do that plan perfectly. If all goes right, you can get a fantastic result like we did against United –nd also nearly against (Manchester) City. But if it does not, then it can be like Liverpool (who Town lost 3-0 against in midweek).
“We have a chance. We must not forget that. Our team is good enough to make chances in these games so we must believe.”
Lossl’s hunch that Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion boasts a bigger capacity is correct, the German club being able to squeeze in almost 6,000 more than the Red Devils.
Even that, though, pales in comparison to the biggest venue Jorgensen has played at, Barcelona’s 90,000 capacity Nou Camp in the Champions League.
The Town defender was in the FC Copenhagen side that took on the Catalan giants in October, 2010. Having already won their opening two group games, the Danish champions headed to Spain in buoyant mood.
Defeat would follow but Barcelona were given a fright, the game not being settled until Lionel Messi netted his second goal of the night in a 2-0 triumph deep into stoppage time.
“I have not played at Old Trafford or visited,” added Jorgensen, along with Lossl the two ever-presents in the league for Town this season.
“But I played in Camp Nou. That was a special place to play football.
“We went there, like Huddersfield will to Manchester, as the underdog. But we refused to be intimidated. Our plan was to put everything we could into the game. We played well but, unfortunately, lost 2-0. We played Barcelona again a few weeks later and drew 1-1.”
Barcelona went on to lift the trophy the following May, underlining just how well Copenhagen, beaten in the first knockout round, had performed in the autumn double-header.
Huddersfield will need a similar standard of performance against Jose Mourinho’s men, who will be smarting from not only their 2-1 loss at the John Smith’s Stadium in October but also Wednesday’s defeat at Wembley in front of a record 81,978 crowd.
With Southampton and Swansea City, the two teams sitting directly below the fourth bottom Terriers, also in action today, even a draw at Old Trafford might not be enough to prevent Wagner’s men slipping into the relegation zone for the first time.
“The league table is so close,” said Lossl, as Town look to avoid a fifth straight defeat in the league. “I can’t think of one like this before, it is incredible.
“But we knew what this season would be like. If I had been told last summer that we would be in this situation, still outside the bottom three, in February then I would have said: ‘Yes, that is good’. This has been a bad run but we still believe.”
As for Jorgensen, he is steeling himself for a tough afternoon. “Manchester United will want to beat us even more because of what happened earlier in the season. Of course, they would have wanted to win anyway. But this victory (in October) may make it a bit more.
“Going to the big stadiums is what every player enjoys. Some of the guys here were fortunate to play at Wembley last season (in the play-off final) so they will not be worried. We are all ready for the challenge.”