Tag Archives: glazer

Fail We May, Sail We Must

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Football fans in this country really are easily pleased. Having commented on the growing discontent amongst the fanbase which led to an air of protest in and around Old Trafford last month, it’s now all but evaporated. What happened? It clearly doesn’t take much to win us over, does it? Win a couple of games + sign a new player = everything is well in the world. I despair at us sometimes. The Glazers and their appointed puppet masters are most likely laughing their heads off.

Cast your mind back 20 years and the likes of MUST and IMUSA were asking genuinely pertinent questions about the running of the club and key issues affecting supporters. Major battles were won, notably stopping the Murdoch takeover attempt, but ultimately the war was lost in 2005 when the Glazers took control. It still felt there was an ideological resistance in place, however. Nowadays our supporters groups’ objectives appear to extend little further than being served Strongbow Dark Fruits on draught.

The single fan collective boasting a visible presence inside OT and an ongoing dialogue with the club is TRA. Judging by the rapid fall-off in audible dissent since we returned from the winter break, it really is no wonder the club are keen to engage with those running the group. As far as I can make out the extent of their demands amounts to little more than cheap ale for their members and permission to stand without being hassled by stewards. Their intentions to help improve the atmosphere can’t be faulted, but I can’t help think they’re selling themselves short with their extremely limited, self-interested manifesto.

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We all know that so-called ultra groups have had success in affecting change at clubs on the continent. Perhaps it would be nice if TRA used their new-found status to push for something more than just a weekly piss up and a group singalong? Those running the group probably never considered the implications of entering into a close dialogue with the club, but things start to look a bit suspect when open hostility within their section drops to a murmur within the space of a few weeks. Still, at least everyone involved can pat themselves on the back now they’ve coincidentally been promised a significant number of additional seats for next season.

At whose expense though? Well that’s becoming a familiar pattern now, isn’t it? The Family Stand is being packed off into North Stand Tier 2 in a similar move to the evictions that took place in the Stretford End last year and J Stand before that. I’m sure it’s completely unintentional, but these switcharounds always seem to involve people sat in cheaper seats being forced to move into more expensive areas against their will. ‘You can pay for next season at your current rate then after that… well that’s your problem’. Still, as long as TRA have got Peroni and Estrella available and personal abuse of Woodward is quashed, no harm done and happy days.

Anyway, what about this Bruno Fernandes, eh? Whilst I’m not quite full-on, head over heels smitten kitten yet, I will happily admit to being slightly aroused by what we’ve witnessed so far. How refreshing it is to have someone demanding the ball constantly who looks totally comfortable in possession. It’s going to take a while to get used to this again after watching Lingard and Periera perfect the art of hiding in plain sight over the last couple of years.

I guess the note of caution comes from the fact we’ve experienced numerous false dawns similar to this in our desperation to herald the arrival of a game changing playmaker in recent times. Kagawa, Mkhitaryan, Di Maria and Sanchez all gained similarly rave reviews during their nascent United careers before fading miserably within a matter of weeks. Let’s hope the Bruno-inspired feel-good factor is still in place after 50 games and this current honeymoon period proves to be just a taster of what he’s capable of.

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The true end of an era is fast approaching now, with it all but inevitable that Liverpool will end a 30 year drought by winning the Premier League at some point during the next few weeks. As someone who grew up in the 80s, the thought of Liverpool waiting that long for a league title back then was completely absurd. Their victories were as routine as United’s failures – as a child it felt like Liverpool winning the league was almost pre-destined. That’s why Michael Thomas’ goal was celebrated so riotously in 1989, it was a genuinely life-affirming event to witness Liverpool beaten in such impossible circumstances.

Since then, I suppose we’ve had it pretty good overall. We’ve picked up more trophies and league titles than my 16 year old self could ever have anticipated and Liverpool’s ongoing travails have provided some truly glorious entertainment along the way. Honourable mentions going out here to Giorgio Armani, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Diego Forlan, John O’Shea, the United flag at Anfield after #19, Gerrard’s slip, Demba Ba, Patrice Evra, Luis Suarez, Crystanbul and Kenny Dalglish being the bitterest man on earth.

Yes. I’ve already come to terms with our fate and rather than feeling sorry for myself, I’m choosing the path of stoicism and self-reflection. We had a good run so we just have to suck it up now. At least they’re going to win the thing in March with a 55 point lead. Imagine how bad it potentially could’ve been if they’d scraped it on the last day with 80 points. Just don’t sweat it, Coronavirus is coming. By the time they pick up the trophy, the lucky ones amongst us will be living on Super Noodles and sleeping in oxygen chambers whilst everyone else is eating soil and bidding for used space suits on eBay.

It’s happening. Deal with it.

Copyright Red News – March 2020

www.rednews.co.uk

In A Different Place

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Oh well. Just as things were progressing quite nicely, a relatively simple-looking triple header against Hull has seen United return to their toothless, autumnal travails. The points salvaged against Liverpool and Stoke were tolerable in the grand scheme of things, but the Hull fixtures saw United start poorly and then get progressively worse over 270 entertainment-starved minutes. How frustrating that the rock bottom, relegation certainties visibly grew in confidence over the course of the 3 games, rather than suffering successive, routine drubbings as one might have hoped.

The away game was one of those nights where you really do question, ‘why do I still bother doing this?’ Okay, so the United end was bouncing and we reached another cup final… but the rest of it? You leave work early and drive to East Yorkshire in January, it’s about -5 degrees, you go in a pub where the locals are shitfaced at 6pm on a school night and there’s a football card going round where the prize is a ‘£10 meat voucher.’ Firstly, what exactly is a meat voucher? Secondly, who were the sick, twisted individuals on the panel who voted this hellhole ‘UK City of Culture 2017‘?

The league game at OT was a similarly grim spectacle. In a week where the top four sides each dropped points, United had the opportunity to gain some ground yet completely failed to take advantage. The team seemed to suffer collective amnesia during the 2nd half and started racking up the Van Gaal-style sideways passes rather than pressing relentlessly for a winner. Most disconcerting, given how we’d absolutely battered Stoke for an hour before getting a richly deserved injury time equaliser.

Hopefully this last couple of weeks is just a blip and we can bounce back at Leicester on Sunday. It still feels like we’ve made huge progress over the last couple of months, so it’ll be disastrous if this ill-timed dip in form becomes another slide. Worryingly though, the team looked knackered during the 2nd half against Hull… which doesn’t bode well at all given that the Europa League, Thursday-Sunday cycle of games is about to resume. Honestly? I’d be content to get knocked out asap if it helped secure a top four finish and a return to the Champions League next season.

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It’s pointless even discussing the state of the atmosphere at OT as it’s just routinely appalling. No debate, it just is… those days are gone. The last singing section venture did nothing whatsoever to improve things overall. All it did was provide a section of the ground where people wearing retro Adidas tracksuit tops and bobble hats could stand up and clap like demented seals whilst singing about Eric Cantona for about 2 minutes every game. No doubt that those involved like to think they’ve made a difference but in reality, the opposite is true. All they did was help displace a couple of thousand time-served J-Standers and snuff out an area of the ground that would still stir itself and make some noise when the occasion demanded it.

It was disappointing then, to learn that neighbouring East Lower and K-Stand reds are being forcibly moved in order to make way for the extended disabled section that’s been announced. Obviously it’s a very good thing that the club are taking positive steps to increase the capacity for disabled fans, that isn’t the issue here. The problem is why this needs to be at the expense of a sizeable proportion of the cheapest tickets available at Old Trafford?

A season ticket in East Lower currently costs £532, decent value in terms of the cost of watching Premier League football these days. It isn’t the greatest view in the ground as you’d expect at that price level, so for the most part the people purchasing those seats do so because they are affordable. If those affected accept the club’s offer to move to seats elsewhere, at the very least they can expect to pay a further £170 on top of that. Quite simply, this development will price many hundreds of fans out of going to the game.

Whilst the club’s email to affected ST Holders trilled about “state-of-the-art reversible platforms”, “accessibility lounges” and “300 new positions for disabled supporters”, all very commendable – the upshot of this is 2000+ supporters having a price increase imposed on them that will ultimately negate the cost of financing the development. Additional disabled spaces, let’s not forget, the club are obliged to provide otherwise they’d likely face legal action from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Far from being a good news story then, or an example of the club doing something positive for a minority of supporters, this is just another example of Glazernomics in practice. Top of the Deloitte money table, £513.3M revenue recorded for 2016, £540M predicted for 2017, yet where is the announcement of increasing the ground capacity by redeveloping the South Stand? How about investing a few hundred million by building something truly world class that could incorporate many hundreds of disabled spaces as well as taking the capacity over 90,000? Yeah right – don’t hold your breath.

Copyright Red News – February 2017

www.rednews.co.uk

Up The Hill and Down The Slope

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So as we enter the merry month of May, there’s still no word on whether or not Spanish Dave will still be here next season. It’s not looking too hopeful, given that his girlfriend (a 2015 Spanish version of Whigfield from what I can gather) thinks Manchester is “uglier than the back of a fridge” and Jorge Mendes keeps crossing out Dave’s name on United’s contract offer and scrawling ‘Radamel Falcao LOL’ in red crayon.

Like everyone else, I like De Gea and I hope he stays for a long time. He’s been a great signing who’s developed superbly after being singled out and targeted as something of a soft touch during his first season. His supposed ‘catalogue of errors’ was something that was hugely over-exaggerated and I was always confident that given time and a little nurturing, he’d be sound. If he does go, however, then so what? With the greatest respect to the lad, he’s only a goalie. If he wants to go to Real Madrid and suffer the fate of not being Casillas then let him… it’s really no biggie in the grand scheme of things. We’ll soon find another one.

The derby turned out nice again, didn’t it? The build-up was horrendous given that the City fans I know (firmly back in plucky underdog/damage limitation mode) all solemnly predicted a United win. The thought of losing 5 in a row to them didn’t bear thinking about and thankfully, wasn’t something we were forced to suffer. You know you’ve been in a top goon when seats are getting obliterated in celebration, you’re being gripped by people who sit 3 rows behind and you’ve still got purple/yellow bruises on your calves 2 weeks after the game.

It’s always good value getting into work early on the morning after a derby win. The tension is palpable. Confused expressions of blues expecting full-on soccerbantz, countered with the feigned indifference of reds content to let them stew in their own disappointment. One always cracks after a couple of hours of non-football chat, resulting in a tentative “so, I suppose you had a good day, yesterday?” At which point, resisting the temptation to sprint the length of the office and do a knee-slide whilst triumphantly flicking the V’s with both hands raised, I find it’s more dignified just to smile, give an affirmative nod and maintain the silence.

After the giddiness of beating Liverpool and City in recent weeks, we were probably due a reality check – so the defeats at Chelsea and Everton came along as no great shock. United were well worth a point at Stamford Bridge and came very close to achieving that when Falcao hit the post. Possession stats, however, are meaningless in high-stakes games where one manager has basically instructed his team to sit back and let the opposition have the ball. Mourinho remains a master pragmatist, which is probably one of the main reasons why he’ll never manage United. He genuinely couldn’t care less whether it’s entertaining or not, he’s only interested in getting the 3 points.

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The Everton game, on the other hand, was a genuine reminder of the shortcomings we’ve demonstrated this season. United simply didn’t turn up. It was Leicester away revisited as we were exposed due to a high defensive line, with several players looking bang average again after playing out of their skins for the last couple of months. Visits to Goodison Park always play out exactly the same way – Everton (both team and crowd) are a highly excitable bunch so you just need to let them tire themselves out a bit and wait for them to lose belief. What you don’t want to do, quite clearly, is to give the ball away straight from a corner and concede a goal after 5 minutes.

Despite this sudden downturn in form kiboshing the happy happy, joy joy vibes of late, the season is trundling to a reasonably satisfactory conclusion that should see us secure a Champions League place. And let’s not forgot, back in January as we blundered round the pitch at Deepdale being outpassed and outfought by Preston, you would probably have laughed in my face if I’d suggested that was still looking likely. Anyway, (almost) mission accomplished. Now whereas Moyes might have ordered an open-top bus for such an outcome, it’s good to note that Van Gaal is making all the right noises about his plans for next season. “I’m ­always at a club to win championships – not to finish third or fourth.”

This month marks the 10 year anniversary of the Glazer takeover, the event which led to the club being burdened with a £660M debt and also within weeks, became the catalyst for a couple of thousand reds to stop attending Old Trafford and instead form their own club, FC United of Manchester.

The existence of FC United, despite them going about their business in an environment (figuratively, if not geographically) a million miles from OT, remains an emotive subject that will continue to divide opinions decades from now. There might not be the levels of vitriol flying about that there were during their first couple of seasons, but there remains an ever-present undercurrent of tension. On the hand, there are those that’ll insist on brandishing the ‘Judas’ card at the merest mention of their name, whilst on the other, (choosing my words carefully here) there’s a condescending, holier-than-thou element within their support who’ll look somewhat aghast whenever you ‘fess up to still attending MUFC games. Admittedly, I’ve met far more of the former than the latter.

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For the most part though, you’ve got a few thousand people in the middle. Most FC fans of my acquaintance aren’t the militant lefties or tree-hugging idealists they’re ridiculed as, they are just normal reds. Reds who said “not one penny” and actually meant it; beer monster reds who watched United for years yet slowly drifted away; reds who stopped going well before Glazer, enticed back by an affordable alternative; swing both ways reds who will contentedly watch FCUM one week and MUFC the next. I’ve never met a single one though, who professes to no longer care about Manchester United. They might no longer attend games but the bond will always be there – it couldn’t not be given how FC came to exist.

Anyway, this is all just a roundabout way of tipping my hat to everyone connected with the club following their promotion up to the Conference North and the imminent opening of their new home at Broadhurst Park. 4 promotions and building a ground from scratch within 10 years is an amazing achievement, especially considering they started out at the very bottom of the pile with absolutely nothing. So many congratulations and the best of luck to all concerned… the story will make a great film one day (or more likely a terrible one, if Hollywood ever gets involved).

Copyright Red News – May 2015

www.rednews.co.uk