Feathers were ruffled last week when Sir Alex Ferguson came out in praise of the Glazer’s ownership of Manchester United, with Sky Sports quoting the United manager as stating that the Glazers have been “great”.
As United’s debt continues to get ever larger , with fans group the Red Issue claiming that £250,000 is being lost daily, a supporters group has wrote an Open Letter conveying their concern with the financial strategy (or lack of) of the club’s owners. However this letter directs their concern not to any member of the Glazer family but to Sir Alex Ferguson himself.
Sir Alex’s task as manager is to ensure that the club he has made the most dominant in the history of English domestic football, after taking the club to an historic nineteenth league title, continues to challenge for trophies. Last season United were moments away from once again being League champions suggesting that on the field at least the Glazer family are not being entirely destructive.
However United’s spending habitats have certainly changed in recent seasons, gone are the days its seems where United sign the players Sir Alex wanted regardless of the cost as was the case when the club was signing Rio Ferdinand, Ruud Van Nistelrooy & co.
According to Transferleague.co.uk Stoke City, Aston Villa & even QPR have a higher net spend over the last five seasons than the Old Trafford giants. Sir Alex himself has started speaking of seeking value in the transfer market rather than the previous sign at all costs mentality. Sky Sports quote Sir Alex as stating:
“I’ve never encountered opposition. They’ve always been as sensible as they can in terms of financing the team, and they have to invest in the team to maintain the value of their asset.”
While we’re never likely to know the truth of whether Sir Alex has ever encountered opposition when it comes to transfer funds his ability to continue to challenge on a reduced budget emphasises the majesty of his management and its difficult to think of another manager who would be able to challenge for league titles despite having being so dramatically out spent by Manchester City and Chelsea in recent years.
This makes the personal questioning of Sir Alex by a section of United’s “hardcore” fans all the more baffling.
One of the questions the open letter poses to the United manager is what constitutes a real fan and whether he has met with any of the dissenting fans to see how passionately they care. The unstated implication of this open letter is that those behind it are the real fans, but how can they claim to be true supporters when they question the man who knocked Liverpool of their perch and transformed their club into arguably the biggest in the world.
Why should Sir Alex meet dissenting supporters, its his job to ensure United challenge for trophies not waste time speking to fans about finance.
A further issue the Red Issue put to Sir Alex is that of the, claimed, decline in atmosphere at Old Trafford again it is difficult to see how this is a matter Sir Alex can do anything about. Fans who have a problem with the atmosphere at their home ground should try the practical solution of singing and chanting louder rather than complaining about their fellow supporters.
If your going to support such a huge global sporting franchise you have to accept that people who aren’t hardened football fans will attend games for a day out.
The sad fact is that if the true supporters of any of the Premiership’s top sides stopped attending their club’s games it would make no real difference to the clubs owners. Tickets to top Premiership games are always in demand and grounds could often sell out several times over and with the key revenue streams of television rights and worldwide merchandise owners can rely on a suitably sizable income.
All of this should not subtract from the Glazer’s dangerous running of Manchester United’s finances as they plunge the club further and further into debt. But unless the Red Issue and other dissenting supporters groups are ready to stump up such a huge amount of cash that the Glazer’s would have no choice but to sell the club back to these fans its time to leave Sir Alex to get on with the work of winning trophies and get behind the team.
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