The Glazers have been in the thrall of Sir Alex Ferguson for nearly nine years, since their controversial takeover of Manchester United. Maybe only they can get this great club out of the mess it has become?

There are still many supporters who believe that the Glazers are the reason why Manchester United have under-invested in recent years. No-one can argue, however, that the hundreds of millions of pounds they have spent in debt payments and interest could have built a squad better even than Manchester City's.

The truth is that they delegated leadership and control of the football club to the two men best able to run it: David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson. The result was a period of almost unparalleled relative success, despite relatively modest spending.

But last night's debacle against Manchester City has left Sir Alex in a difficult and potentially untenable position because of his unilateral support for David Moyes - "the anointed one." The Scottish knight must surely have been shocked at the bile that was turned on him, albeit by a limited number of supporters. Indeed he has a dilemma of his own making which, if he doesn't resolve, the Glazers may do for him.

Sir Alex is being blamed for the collapse of Manchester United

Just like Sir Alex, United supporters are, by and large, decent and fair people. Otherwise why would they have been so patiently supportive of Moyes? They recognise that the former Everton and Preston and stalwart is a decent and straight chap, albeit currently out of his depth.

Because of the long-standing reverence for Sir Alex, the supporters have largely taken on trust the latter's undying belief that Moyes should be given time. However, a growing number would like him to be given time elsewhere, like Newcastle, Norwich, or better still, Arsenal or Tottenham.

Let's be honest here: United are still on the slide; a gung-ho battle to overcome Olympiacos simply papered over the obvious cracks; a comfortable win against a poor West Ham fooled nobody, merely giving welcome relief. These matches were sandwiched by two shockers that showed the real state of affairs. Liverpool and City frankly humbled a United team with little by the way of apparent tactical organisation, poor morale and no hope.

Whatever the naysayers plead,  the bald facts are that Moyes can neither organise nor motivate a team which has been enhanced by £65million worth of signings from the one which won the Premier League at a canter. And frankly the excuses have worn wafer thin: Moyes has a different one after every match. Stating that City played at the level United aspire to will only inflame fans. 'Blame me' cuts a whole lot more ice.

United fans have no God-given right to be top of the League, but they deserve better than to be in the 'marzipan layer' between Spurs and Everton on the one hand, Villa and West Ham on the other.

What Sir Alex must surely now take serious account of is that the more he defends Moyes, the more the blame will fall on him instead. That was abundantly clear last night. And a recent ESPN article not only had Sir Alex second behind Moyes in a poll on the blame for the current situation, but also alluded to Moyes losing support in the board room.

The fans aren't stupid. They know that last season's title winning squad was not good enough for the long term and that several ageing players would have to go. Also they have consistently criticised Sir Alex, not just in the last year, for failing to replace a moderate midfield since Roy Keane left. But above all, because most of them are decent people and see a kindred spirit in Moyes, whose only mistake was to say 'yes' when Fergie called, there is now a serious risk of their wrath turning on Ferguson, as last night showed.

And Moyes would only court sympathy long after he goes. People will simply say that he was never up to the job and that Sir Alex should never have chosen him.

What the Glazers must do now

Joel Glazer was sat beside Sir Alex at the Liverpool match. He must have been horrified. It is highly unlikely that he flew over from the US as a United fan, nor to check on the state of his investment. More credible is that he had two thoughts in mind: to be present as United beat Liverpool and showed they were turning a corner; but more likely to have a crisis board meeting after the inevitable defeat and humiliation.

Whether from a hard-nosed commercial, financial and investment protection position or, with a genuine empathy for the long term fans who have previously chastised the Glazers, surely Joel had decided it was time for tough talking.

Ever since they took over at United the Glazers have trusted Sir Alex's judgement. Why else would they not even have run a 'beauty parade' of potential replacements before appointing Moyes? Gill may have stepped down as Chief Executive, but he remains on the board and is now a senior figure in the UEFA hierarchy. Businessman he may be but he has acquired huge respect across the football world during his time at United.

Indeed he may have the same sort of kudos that David Dein (the kingmaker) had at Arsenal, so what on earth did he say to the board when Ferguson insisted on Moyes? It has been reported that Sir Bobby Charlton thinks Moyes should be given more time. This is unsurprising because he also is a decent and fair man and would accept his own share of responsibility for Moyes' appointment.

But dare the United board leave things until the fans start to boo or worse still chant: "Moyes out"?

After Tuesday's sadly unsurprising submission by the team he built, Sir Alex can be in no doubt that feelings are turning against him. If a board meeting now received the proposition that the manager be asked to resign, surely he and Sir Bobby would at the very best have to abstain. That would leave the decision to the rational thinkers like Gill and the aforementioned Glazer.

Ironically, it may be true that the Glazers don't really care about United or even football, but that may work in favour of a rational decision rather than emotional. Looked at from their point of view the Glazers' investment is collapsing by the day. This is not just about lost Champions League revenue, nor the danger to future sponsorship.

It is now about whether they should entrust potentially £200million and maybe another two seasons of mediocrity to a man who cannot motivate Ferguson's squad and seems to have no organisational or tactical nous whatsoever. Indeed every single criticism of United at the moment can be laid back at Ferguson's door: the squad isn't good enough; there is no midfield; there has been inadequate investment for the future; United have lost players of real talent to other clubs (Gerard Pique, Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, Ezekiel Fryers).

What happens next?

Sir Alex is a legend; David Moyes probably never will be. The former has boxed himself into a corner through first appointing Moyes and then giving him public and die-hard support ever since.

However, his body language in the directors box and his recent silence may indicate a shifting position. He simply cannot come out and criticise Moyes without seriously damaging his own credibility. But other key figures are giving insights into how the cracks in Old Trafford are beginning to show: in the last few days Gary Neville, Lee Sharpe and Paul Scholes have all openly criticised United's performance and, by implication, the manager.

Unless Moyes does the decent thing in the next few days it is reasonable to believe that he will be given until at least next Tuesday to show some green shoots of progress. Indeed, irrespective of the home result against Bayern Munich there is little point in sacking him before the second leg unless United are hammered again.

Some might take the argument further and argue for change at the end of what will now be a dismal failure of a season. But why repeat the dreadful mistake of last season and wait until July for a new manager to start? Both Moyes, the club and its future manager need certainty. The die-hards are arguing for him to be given one more transfer window to turn things around. But that implies at least another potential season of failure before the axe falls. What untold damage could be done by then?

And when you consider that Moyes' first big signing looks like an expensive donkey how much more money is he capable of wasting? But a much more important point is this. If we are all watching and being scathing about United's performance, don't you think William Carvalho, Eliaquim Mangala, Tony Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani are doing the same thing?

And what impression might players like Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata be giving privately to their footballing colleagues? It will be difficult enough to sign players with no prospect of playing in the Champions' League but Moyes has no international reputation except what people are seeing on the television.

Right now, Manchester United are going down the pan with the same group of players having won the Premier League easily less than 10 months ago. They are certain to finish this season with comfortably their lowest number of points in the history of the League.

As soon as practicable the board must meet; the Glazers should propose that the manager be asked to resign; Sir Alex should pass the message personally. And starting immediately they need a proper selection and interview process. The outcome of which should almost certainly be the appointment of a senior professional ideally with experience of winning national championships and the Champions' League, but certainly with unquestioned credibility.

The best candidates would be: Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink, Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone, or Antonio Conte.

Common sense suggests that his assistant should be a younger, long-term prospect for succession, such as Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs or Frank de Boer. In an ideal world Rene Meulensteen would be re-installed as first team coach. An appointment within a few weeks would send a message of certainty to prospective signings, including the sheer kudos of the successful candidate himself. The necessary transfer window activity could then be concluded ideally before the World Cup but certainly well before the start of next season.

The renaissance of Manchester United can then begin, this time properly.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Football