Visualising Old Trafford, it is hard to picture the Manchester United faithful without seeing them draped in a sea of green and gold scarves.
With all the talk of a new dawn under David Moyes, one thing that refuses to subside is the fans’ continuing protest at the ownership of Malcolm Glazer.
United fans undoubtedly have a legitimate cause. The Glazer family completed a hostile takeover in the club in 2005, having gradually bought out shareholders, including those of John Magnier after the Irishman’s dispute with Sir Alex Ferguson over the ownership of a horse. It was rumoured at the time that the takeover would mean the end of Ferguson’s reign, but in reality, the Glazers kept out of Ferguson’s way.
Setting up FC United, abandoning season tickets, numerous chants and dressing up as Norwich City supporters have all been effective ways of voicing fans’ disquiet about Glazer’s ownership.
He must surely have got the message, but the American seems to be sticking around. At the very least, United’s dissent in the form of green and gold scarves has proved more memorable than Blackburn’s questionable “yellow and black until he gets the sack” demonstrations at former manager Steve Kean.
One of the fans’ key grievances is of course the debt Glazer reversed into United, which was split between the club and the family – it has been estimated recently that the debt currently stands at around £380 million.
But to look on the bright side, United have not stopped winning. The incurrence of such a debt sparked fears that the Red Devils would have to part with their best players, but while some of United’s stars have moved on – notably Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a colossal £80 million – they were primarily for football reasons.
Besides, even without Glazer’s financial burdens, such a world record bid would have been extremely difficult to turn down.
The Old Trafford faithful have every right to protest, and their remonstrations are unlikely to come to an end any time soon. It seems almost impossible to look past money in the modern footballing world, but if football is ultimately about trophies – which it is – the Reds have won five titles, three League cups, five Community Shields, a Club World Cup and a Champions League.
United fans will do well to remember their namesakes Newcastle and Mike Ashley. In other words: things could be a lot worse.
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