Keep your mails on the protests (or football) coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
The Glazers – pretty good owners
Reading your list of the “ridiculous” numbers under the Glazers, the thing that really leaps out is that, well, they’re not really ridiculous at all. Dividends at about 20% of earnings – on the low side, certainly not excessive. Growth in earnings lower than others – easily explained by United already being ahead at the start of the period, and on total basis revenues are excellent. Debt has gone slightly down whilst the value of the club has quadrupled (debt at 1/6 of the value of the club is quite low), and initial expensive debt has been refinanced – that looks like prudent management. Spend on players has been extremely high – money has been badly spent and talent has been serially mismanaged by a series of bad managers, but that’s hardly the Glazers’ fault. Spend on infrastructure is low – fair enough, probably time to spend on the stadium, but they started with possibly the best stadium in club football so didn’t need to spend in the way others did (and they’ve clearly prioritized spend on the squad instead). You’d have to be very one-eyed to look at their finances and say they’ve put the club in a bad position.
So – what’s really to dislike about the Glazers? Ignoring the ESL for a moment, objectively they’ve been pretty decent owners, albeit not ruthless enough with underperforming CEOs (Ed Woodward should have gone ages ago) and managers. But “could do with more Abramovich-style ruthlessness” is a pretty short charge sheet, and understandable given the history of the club under SAF (it’s not like the football community sighs wistfully and says “I wish more owners were like Roman” every time Chelsea sack a manager). Noone’s perfect – that probably puts them in the top quartile for football club owners (seriously, look at the rest of them). So really, what they’re guilty of is just failing to engage with the fans, a failure of corporate messaging (and the ESL). Which should be easily addressable – they need to pick the next CEO wisely, put in place fan representation on the board (as I see Chelsea now have), focus a bit more on the football side, spend some money on the stadium, and launch some community initiatives (as per Chelsea and Man City, for example). And that will make good commercial sense – being at war with your own fans is bad for the brand value – so I suspect they will do exactly this. If I were a Man Utd fan, I don’t think I’d want to roll the dice on new owners.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan
I’m risking the wrath of united fans here but I wanna ask a serious question – are the glazers really that bad?
Right now you’ve stopped hissing at the screen think about it properly.
But but but the debt…so what? Aside from those with the infinite money cheat enabled everyone is drowning in debt, even the club backed by the Spanish royal family are drowning in debt. What makes your debt so special? Nothing is the answer.
United fans complain about their lack of spending but they consistently make funds available for players and I think fans often forget how often they did that – vidic, evra, berbatov, de gea, kagawa, van persie, Mata, Herrera, Di Maria, Shaw, depay, wan bissaka, Donny, Maguire, martial – all signed for not insignificant sums of money at the time of their arrival and all paid good to ridiculous wages and some of those players directly contributed to trophies.
Sure they might have made the club pay for those signings and how dare they expect a business to pay for its own expenses, and the point is they allowed investment in the team.
Then there’s the countless ways they’ve accommodated fans – you wanted Moyes gone. He went without even being given a chance. You wanted LVG gone (despite him actually winning trophies) and he went to. Then y’all got starry eyed for Jose because he was “a serial winner” and would restore trophies to the club even if you had to do it dirty, someone that other united figures advised against – and they got Jose. Then you didn’t like the new post Madrid whiny evasive Jose and asked for him gone – even though like lvg he won trophies and really did work miracles with a terrible squad to finish 2nd. So off Jose went.
I don’t look at united and see unlucky club being plucked at by vultures. I see a fanbase whose expectations are bordering on silly. You want owners who listen to fans (see above) pump money into the club from their own pocket even if it sinks their own personal finances, who will clear all club debt, sign any player the fanbase wants regardless of cost and never ever expect anything in return.
Seems to me like united fans are the unreasonable ones, not the owners. Wanna know what bad ownership looks like? Ask Leeds. Ask Portsmouth. Ask Glasgow rangers. Ask arsenal. Ask city before the mansours. Ask Chelsea before Roman. Ask Liverpool during the 90s. Ask Parma.
The glazers are nowhere near as bad as united fans like to think.
The Glazers aren’t breaking any rules or laws…
Doesn’t matter how much anyone romanticizes the protests last Sunday or their relationship with the club. The fact of the matter is that it is a privately run business – for the fans but not exclusively for the fans.
And it’s a very Ayn Rand-esque plot for the general public to cry foul for running a business in a manner that the owners see fit, despite the fact that no rule or law is being broken.
Also since when did the tenor of discontent (all those cries of “We were protesting long before ESL”) become a valid reason for hooliganism.
You want to protest – go protest to the FA, the UEFA etc. for allowing such ownership structures and getting the game where it is. As long as Glazers operate within the rules set for them by the authorities, what right does anyone have to go and armtwist them (Not that any of this would have made any difference to them). And yes, this means I would support proportionate action for the ESL nonsense.
Akshay V (Go buy your chocolate elsewhere or start drinking coffee)
The whole protest thing…
I have been a MUFC fan for a while. Been following them for the last 18 years (give or take). I would like to present a point of view of a fan not living in the UK.
First, the Glazers. Yes they are a drain on the club. They only seem to look at United as a piggy bank they can keep withdrawing from. Leveraged buyouts are also IMO some of the most despicable ways to take over a going concern due to the onerous debt that gets loaded on to the company being bought out. Of course the LBO types rebranded themselves as Private Equity players. As that sounds better
Second, G Neville and R Ferdinand. I personally think that these two have some sort of agenda. What the agenda is I am not going to venture to guess. However the fact that they have benefitted from what little largesse the Glazers and other money men bestow on them makes them complicit IMO
Third, as an overseas fan I did not understand the hullaballoo over the Glazers buyout back in the day. TBH I still don’t. My reason is that there are worse LBO operators around who have driven healthy companies into the ground. See the Toys R Us bankruptcy caused by the “masters of the universe” as they term themselves. For all their faults I can’t recollect the Glazers sacking front line non playing staff. I am happy to be corrected on this.
I feel that there are better and more important causes to rally around rather than a football club. Having said that fans based in the UK would feel different due to their historical connection to the club and I don’t begrudge them their protests. I may or may not support them, but I do believe they have a fundamental right to protest and they should exercise it if they want to.
The back and forth in mailbox since the protest at the weekend has been excellent again. A few stand outs. Nige in NZ said that police should have the right to be safe at work. As New Zealand is literally as far away from this as you can be I’ll let him off but this is wrong. Police in the UK do not have the right to be safe at work. This is why we should respect them. They are literally putting their well being on the line to keep us safe. The reason why this is relevant on a football website is that the test case for this came about after the Hillsborough disaster. The Hillsborough disaster saw the unlawful deaths of 96 people as a result of a crush at an unsafe stadium following a police officer in charge at his first matchday ordering a gate to be opened. The police officer then lied about it and the police force went to the press to publicise the lie. All newspapers printed this lie despite it not being verified. All newspapers but the s*n retracted this statement. The s*n ran with this story so successfully that people to this day believe that Liverpool fans were robbing and pissing on the dead. The s*n only retracted the story and apologised when the true events were established in a court of law 30 years later. Hillsborough is the test case that recognised and codified the conditions of post-traumatic stress disorder and it was in this case that it was determined that there is no duty of care for police to be protected from harm due to the nature of their work.
After Hillsborough, the management of football crowds changed. It was recognised that crowds + riot police = riots. It is rare in the UK to see riot police at football and I bloody well hope it stays that way. Thayden is exactly right in that we find ourselves in a right wing totalitarian government who are trying to ban protests where the government doesn’t get to decide the rules. Currently, the Government’s totalitarian powers that can see us criminalised for visiting dying loved ones will extend until September. Let’s not forget that its actually illegal to protest right now under these emergency coronavirus laws. The peaceful protests in Bristol have seen riot police sent in to deal with the unsavoury act of people sitting on the ground. This resulted in “unrest” which ended up with damage and police reporting serious injuries including two with broken bones. These injuries turned out to be misreported by the police. One of the protesters arrested at Old Trafford was filmed seemingly being punched repeatedly by a police officer whilst handcuffed. People do have a right to be looked after whilst in the care of police including whilst under arrest.
Its interesting how the neutral language of a police officer has a slash on their face has become the police officer was slashed in the face. These are two very different things.
We can go back and forth over when a protest becomes a riot but a protest that is played on their rules is not a protest. It’s a scene from Monty Python. A protest that gets a football match postponed is great. Its hardly the most disruptive of things is it? Chelsea stopping the team bus from entering the ground peacefully was a good example but then there wasn’t any riot police there forcefully moving them because they hadn’t got a licence to protest at a more than a whisper. Any event that sees flares thrown, be it football match or protest, is no good as innocents can get hurt. But then the police could use CS gas on the crowd which is banned in war due to the indiscriminate nature of who it attacks.
You want to protest, you go and protest.
Don’t buy what the newspapers are selling.
Read Professor Phil Scraton’s Hillsborough: The Truth.
Alex, South London
Man Utd and Pogba
Another important week for United and another of Pogba’s guide seems to have suddenly had the urge to impart an all so important advice on the social media. This time it’s the same old cliché of the manager not understanding his style or ambition. First it the great man Sir Alex himself, then the special one and now Ole can’t understand him?
Barring a couple of matches here and there, I fail to understand the hype around Pogba, is he special at all?
Does he deliberately wants to self-sabotage our chances of winning any meaningful silverware so that he can leave us again for free and patting his and his agent’s back saying I told you so!
Is this why all these damning advices and revelations are being shared before our most significant games?
Does HE understands manager’s instructions at all or is he too precious for that?
Pogs can ***k off and hopefully whatever cash we receive can be invested in a new Bruno who can help us play exciting football again.
Pissed off with the pandemic,
JM (the other one)
Rooting for City
Watching City win last night I was smiling. When I realised it felt wrong to support them and their “bought” titles, I sat and thought about it. They play incredible football, they are enjoyable to watch. Their manager seems like a nice bloke, most of the players seem like generally nice people. They behave well on the pitch (mostly). They give chances to youth who put in the work (Zinchenko, Foden). The exact same thing happened the previous 2 seasons with Liverpool who had many of the same traits. It helps they were making PSG primadonas cry.
I suppose I can feel this way because of how far we have fallen and we are no longer competing/rivaling these teams for the biggest honours but its nice to sit and enjoy them. They fully deserve to be in the final and probably deserve to win it. Hopefully this causes Pep to leave and all the players to retire.
Rob A (Giroud to score the Champions League final winner) AFC
Man City vs Gillingham 1999
I tell you what, the attendance at the Man City vs Gillingham play off final in 1999 must have been about 500,000 because, judging by radio phone ins and comments pages, every single Man City fan in the world was there.
All joking aside, what an achievement. To drag yourselves up from the third tier to the Champions League final in 22 years through shear hard work and perseverance is the stuff fairy tales are made of.
Lesser of two evils? Do me a favour!
Well done Abu Dhabi FC for all you have achieved in football which all of us will remember.
Mainly, the stockpiling of top players (like rare Panini sticker swaps), helping increase the ridiculous unsustainable amounts of money being paid for player’s transfer fees and wages, proving that if you spend money like water (oil) you will buy success and finally making other clubs so desperate (for more money so they don’t go bust trying to compete) they rushed to the ESL as some form of saviour!
Hope you Abu Dhabi FC fans are proud!
Stef (Two wrongs don’t make a right! Competitive football has been killed by the financial doping oil clubs and needs a reset/salary cap asap) LFC
Why I didn’t watch the Champions League semi-final…
Last night I had nothing else to do, and I still didn’t watch the Champions League semi final.
It isn’t hatred of the football teams involved I don’t think. I am a Liverpool fan and I watched every Manu game I could at their peak in Europe. I remember a friend who is a died in the wool Manu supporter being utterly amazed when I celebrated their comeback final victory against Bayern many moons ago. Even though I hated Manu I still celebrated them beating a team I felt nothing for in Bayern as well as the glory and drama of the comeback.
As I sat there reading my book (which was very pleasant thing to do of a Tuesday evening) I pondered why I couldn’t be bothered turning on the TV. I could see on my phone City were one nil up. I knew instinctively the tie was over. There would be no drama, no romance, no fight back, I predicted, but more than that I didn’t care which team won or lost. I have more or less the same feeling for tonights game. Two mega rich clubs with subs benches packed full of players who would be the star players at top level clubs the world over.
I don’t even dislike City, PSG or Chelsea as clubs (Real I do harbour a healthy dislike for – especially as every game cuts to images of Sergio Ramos pretend mutiliating players in the stand every time something happens.) Their managers are all wonderful, admirable, great thinkers on the game of football. Most of their players seem likeable, model professionals at the top of their game. But it all just leaves me cold.
Then I remembered the last time I felt like this about sport, Formula 1.
Back in the nineties we watched formula 1 on TV every Sunday. When I got into it Alain Prost and Aryton Senna (RIP) were fierce rivals in McLaren I think. There was drama every week it seemed. Constantly evolving rivalries and competition, Williams, McLaren, Mansell, Hill, Hakkinonen, Schumacher, Villeneuve. It was absorbing stuff. Then after a while the best driver got into the fastest car and just started winning all the time. We marvelled initially at Schumachers prowess and skill and seeing Ferrari back on top had a romance to it but after a few years the sport died for me. I just didn’t care.
Since that time as far as I am aware Formula 1’s popularity has plummeted. The best driver (Vettel or Hamilton) in the fastest car (google tells me Mercedes) wins most or all of the time. The sport, the competition, the drama is dead and while I have no doubt millions of people are still enthused by the finer points of Formula 1 (of which I am not aware) for the average floating fan the spectacle just isn’t worth watching anymore.
Shankly once famously said he wouldn’t look out his back window to watch Everton if they were playing. I felt like that once about Formula 1 in the late 90s, now I am increasingly starting to feel that more and more about the sport I love above all others.
Is this the natural life cycle of a sport that grows too large, attracts too much money and power? Do we lose the level playing field, the variety, the drama, the competition? Were the ESL protests and last weekends Manchester United protests an existential howl at what has happened to our game, the game we love, the game that above all else made us feel; but now we can’t admit at times just feels like watching the best driver in the fastest car winning races for the richest owner.
David (Bit O’Red)
The next Iniesta
In a decade from now, we will be telling kids that Iniesta played like Foden. I was fortunate to see the kid playing live and bossing the U17 tournament in India. And, it says something that the boy was the best player on the pitch last night when you have so many superstars there. His decision making is on par with Iniesta and it is scary to think he could get better.
Verrati was world class at playing victim and football. And, Herrera is incredibly hard to like when he is not your player. City won that game on the quality of football and never assumed a counter attack would result in a City victory. It was victory for a world class midfield playing a strikerless formation; Fernandinho rolling back the years, Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, De Bruyne running rings around midfield with Mahrez being lethal. But, their crown jewel is Foden.
De Bruyne is a genius but Foden is better. I wish he played for United but that ship sailed 13 years ago.
Okay, before I get the incoming unjustified backlash for the rest of this mail, let me say this, I think Phil Foden is a very very good footballer who, if he maintains his current trajectory could be one of England’s best ever. Could.
Now that that part is over, let me say this, can everyone just calm down every time he gets a touch of the ball or has an above average game. Countless times last night, the commentators reacted as if he was the second coming of Jesus for even the simplest bits of skill/dribble/turn/shot etc… And that’s Jesus, not City’s namesake, Hey Zeus. And the mailbox today, Brian from Wexford declares him the best English player he has seen since Gazza. Please calm the f*** down. This is his first full season and has been outstanding at times. Best England Player you ever seen? Steady. He’s the best you have ever seen because the commentators are shoving it down your throat. It’s like declaring a very good goal the best goal ever right after the event because its fresh. I think Lineker did something similar a few years back with a Ronaldo Bicycle kick.
England had a similar player of the same age as Foden is now, in a similar position scoring 18 goals and assisting 7 in one premier league season. Foden has 7 goals and 5 assists this season playing for a superior team. That other player was 2 time Young Player of the Year Deli Alli who was also in the PFA Team of the year two straight years. Whatever happened that lad. Yes he got hyped up so much he started believing in his own excellence and now is struggling to get in to an average Spurs side and he is only barely 25yo.
Brian(Let’s Just all calm the section), Roscommon
Fan mail for Wayne…
Hello Wayne, congrats on the result last night, this really is peak Pep minus the Messi magic. Brutally efficient, patient and effective.
I’m sure someone else will do this better than I, but despite your admirable history lesson, there’s always this thing when writing where if you make up one part, it casts doubt on the rest. Point 5 is basically United were the City of the 90’s, so it’s the same. It is an oft repeated line, presumably because it makes you feel better.
But it’s entirely untrue. This esteemed website provided some nice numbers here which says the biggest spenders were: Blackburn, Blackburn, Everton, Newcastle, Newcastle, Newcastle, Manchester United, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester United. Let me do the last few seasons for you: City, City, City, Chelsea, Chelsea, Spurs (!), United, City, City, City – well you get the idea. United and Arsenal bossed long period of the Premier League because their managers were absolutely incredible. They won with players like John O’Shea and Pascal Cygan ffs.
Regardless, if you can for a moment Wayne, think of teams other than United. Think of Spurs, or Arsenal or even Liverpool. City have outspent those 3 by an order of magnitude. City’s bench last night cost more than Spurs or Arsenal’s entire squads. City’s bench. And these aren’t tiny, newly promoted clubs. These are supposedly the ‘big’ teams. It’s more than Bayern Munich and Juventus have spent on transfers in the last decade.
Anyway, enjoy your CL victory. Try not to think about other teams, or the three lawsuits, or any of that. But maybe don’t make things up to make yourself feel better?
Wayne’s team has just reached their most important European match ever and he wants to give us a rundown of United’s history of ownership. Nice one – no years of pent-up bitterness shining through there. The mask hiding his resentment slips when he states, “You can’t bemoan City dominating football having won 5 of the last 10 premier leagues”. Who was bemoaning that? That’s really just a veiled lament from Wayne because of how those titles came about. Perhaps he feels guilty because he knows all the titles United won were self-financed and not gifted by a sugar daddy. Sending a socially-distanced hug your way Wayne.
The point is we’re not happy with our owners, how they saddled the club with debt, syphoned money away from the club while letting certain parts go into disrepair (not least the youth team), their general apathy towards us (the supporters), and how the club has been run since they came in. What is so offensive about that? Wayne’s (frankly weird) anger should be directed at the media who are the ones steering the narrative that this is for the greater good of football, which it may or may not turn out to be.
Finally, to Brian in Wexford, I wouldn’t say Mahrez is underrated. I would say he’s underused. But that’s why city are as successful as they are, two or three top players in every position. Fair play to them, at least their owners seem to be doing the right things footballing-wise which goes hand-in-hand with success, which leads to even greater revenues. Something our short-sighted owners seemingly fail to grasp.
Garey Vance, MUFC
The real problem with football today
With all the furore about ESL, Utd protests and VAR we’re forgetting the most important issue affecting modern football…
…No one says “Johnny on the spot” anymore.
There were at least 50 occasions where City players epitomised the phrase (particularly Dias and Mahrez) and yet nothing from the commentators or pundits.
The game’s gone.
Aidan, Lfc (not knowledgeable enough to write about how Guardiola’s tactical excellence creates so many Johnnys)
End of the season in League One
So for us paupers in the the lower leagues the end of the season is upon us. For my team, Peterborough it’s been a good season winning promotion! It had become operation vengeance after being dropped to 7th last season when the season ended early and positions were decided on points per game. We were still in with a chance of automatic let alone play offs! Imagine if this happened in your premier league! My god some fans and pundits would wet themselves! Anyway 8 years after dropping out of the championship with a record number of points we are back in it! Going to be tough next year but that’s what the love of football really is isn’t it? It’s not all about spending billions just to earn more money is it?
Up the posh
Mr posh Lincolnshire
A question I’d put to the mailbox , in the unlikely event Stan Kroenke and/or Glazers do sell up, who would you prefer to take over?
- An Oligarch with a shady history and best buds with Putin,
- something like Man City/PSG and get MBS (the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) in,
- a US Vulture fund, or
- Mike Ashley?
If people decide it’s the fans can someone start a gofundme page to buy United?
Dave (If it is a fan led gofundme page which buys United I think I’ll make myself… vice president. No, wait! Junior vice president!)