I didn’t expect to be writing this on Monday morning having lost our opening game at Old Trafford for the first time since 1972. I expected even with the paper-thin squad that we possess, that Louis van Gaal would manage to produce a victory from that injury ravaged squad. As the Iron Tulip himself stated, post match on Saturday our confidence that we worked so hard to build up over the summer’s pre-season tour has now been shattered.
But if David Moyes can beat Swansea on the opening day go on to have a terrible season surely the opposite is true? The last time we were crowned champions of the Barclays Premier League we lost our opening-day fixture to David Moyes’s Everton on a Monday night opener. A season is not defined by the first fixture of 38. But it can be defined by a signing or two, or a complete lack thereof.
I get as excited as my eight-year-old son does the prospect of Manchester United signing world-class footballers and spending lots of cash to do so. Prior to the last few years I don’t remember ever been so giddy about signings as the world seems to be right now. At eight years old I certainly didn’t care at all about signings. In 1991 we signed Paul Parker and also added Peter Schmiechel. Parker I didn’t even realise we had signed and Schmeichel I found out about reading the match day program on the opening day of the season. I’m fairly certain that the transfer windows only being in the Summer and one month in the winter are responsible for the transfer hype. There simply wasn’t the panic that there is now when you could sign players all the way up to mid-March. Even the signing of Eric Cantona crept up on us, and I found out as my ninth birthday party was being held at Old Trafford the day his press conference for joining us was underway.
The transfer-muppetry that surrounds Manchester United has increased to the spectacular level that we see now since Twitter became ubiquitous. (Here’s a pro tip by the way don’t trust anybody with transfer/source/agent in their username…) The giddy factor at Manchester United is only compounded by the fact that supporters can see the team has long suffered from underinvestment since the takeover of the Glazer family in 2005. Ah, the Glazer family. 2005 was an annus horribilis for Manchester United as we lost George Best to his battle with alcoholism and Roy Keane was sacked for comments that he made about the younger inexperienced players in the team on MUTV. At the time of the takeover, many fans prophesied this demise would come. However, only the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson kept the wolves from the door for so long. Now those fears are being realised in 2014 as the continual underinvestment starts to bite.
Last night saw a lot of people tweeting #GlazersOut. It’s quite sad that it’s taken one loss, massively over-reacted to, and a lack of signings, which yes, I agree we need. But the window didn’t close last week, did it? Far from ideal, but still time to get in what we need. Personally I think it’s sheer incompetence, rather than a lack of funds causing the issues with signings.
The ownership issue is one that is close the heart of United fans. We saw eye watering price increases that have forced out many a fan. The protests and the split which created FC United cost us plenty of fans, but we also lost a lot of the characters that make our fan-base what it was. Close to £1bn has been siphoned out of the club in that time and only sustained success has prevented us from crumbling and going into rapid, irreversible decline. All down to the change of ownership. It’s criminal. If we hadn’t have won the league in 2007, but had finished out of the top four, we may have been where Leeds United are now. Might sound far fetched, but the debt repayments in those first few seasons was almost crippling. Now it’s a little different. The majority of the debt is gone, revenue is through the roof. But the team has not been maintained in the manner you’d expect for a club which claims to be and should be, spoken about in the same sentences as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich. We are allegedly the biggest club in the world, with 1 in 10 people on earth supporting the team. What I’m saying is, don’t let one defeat and a shite transfer window make you want to change the ownership. This ownership has been lecherous and bad for the club for almost a decade!
There’s talk of protest and boycott. But they do not work. The Glazers will not be there. The club needs selling and selling won’t happen while there’s an artificially high valuation placed on the club. There are buyers. Absolutely minted fellas that are also United fans. But even that is a dangerous game to play. One man in control can lead to teddies being chucked out of the pram on a regular basis. Look to Chelsea… What Manchester United and I think football in general needs is for supporters to be mandated owners of clubs. At least a percentage. It should be a football league bylaw that all English professional clubs must have a minimum 20-25% stake by it’s members, it’s fanbase. Supporter ownership is a model which has brought stability to the German leagues and it’s not hindered Bayern’s ability on the pitch or commercially. The same can be said of Barcelona. This dream of supporter ownership is something that we have to strive for. It’s unlikely to be something the government steps in and helps out with. Nor the FA. We’ve seen how shambolic their fit and proper person test is!
I spoke to MUST (Manchester United Supporters Trust) Vice-Chair Ian Stirling early this morning who told me that “MUST welcome any takeover bid from individuals or groups that hold the same passion as the club’s supporters and holds those supporters centrally to any decision made by the club. No action is planned by MUST however we fully support the awareness and questions generated by supporters unhappy at the lack of investment in the team.”
I’m going to echo Ian’s comment and urge you all to support MUST, even if it is to simply join the mailing list and be kept aware of what’s going on. joinmust.org
I’ve waffled so much about the Glazers that I’ve not even touched on the game on Saturday, how good Blackett was, Rooney as captain, or the Singing Section’s debut. Or Fletcher and Ronaldo completing the Ice Bucket Challenge for James McCarthy, if you don’t know what that is, 1 – where have you been? 2 – head over to here – www.jamesmccarthyfoundation.com – and join in the fund-raising. James is a big United fan and it’s fantastic to see reds getting together to support the cause.
Until next week… We’ve a Sunderland trip on Sunday and if it’s anything like last year’s I might be typing through blurry eyes…
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