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In the “Biggest Club” debate (or p*ssing match, in reality) it struck me that Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys of my adoptive homeland share a ton of parallels. The Cowboys are sometimes termed “America’s Team” much to the chagrin of many, just as United are the go-to team for unattached fans everywhere.
Dallas haven’t won a damn thing since 1995 when they won the Superbowl. Since then, they’ve missed the playoffs completely 13 times, and they’ve stumbled (or nose-dived) at the first couple of hurdles every single year they actually had a shot at the post-season. They haven’t even appeared in their own Divisional Championship since the Superbowl win. Yet, they are the richest NFL franchise of all.
Dallas has won five Superbowls, but none since 1995, and the Steelers and the Patriots have one more apiece, the Pats practically monopolizing the past decade. Doesn’t seem to matter to the followers.
Dallas have an Owner, President and General Manager, Jerry Jones, who’s main aim is to be wealthy. He promises the fans improvement beyond their dreams, he meddles in draft or hiring decisions despite having no football experience, he builds a bigger stadium to maximize game-day revenue, he hires and fires head coaches on a whim but the Dallas followers (not fans) don’t care. They buy their Cowboys-branded merchandise week after week. Jones bought the team in 1989, used the momentum of the previous ownership, team recruitment and players to win the 1995 Superbowl, but once the old guard were gone – look what’s happened since. Crickets in the Trophy Room.
Now, the genuine Dallas fans – the ones who pay their money and go to the games – are apoplectic every year when there’s another season of mediocrity and failure, and in meltdown mode after every defeat. Jones couldn’t care less, he’s making money. As long as Dallas beats the Redskins, they could go 1-15 for the season and he’d call it a success. The fans (not the followers) are f*cked.
In overseas countries where the NFL is not physically present or with strong connections, the average person in the street would be challenged to name more than one NFL team, but you’d bet a dollar to a donut that they’d come up with the Cowboys. Music to Jones’ ears.
Legendary players from the success years are still recognized and lauded, coaches and players.
Fans of other teams can’t stand the Cowboys, but they will watch them hoping to see them lose. In almost every TV market in the US where the Cowboys are not the most-watched team, they are the second-most watched. They get a lot of airtime because, fan or hater, you watch them to see them win or f*ck up depending on your preference.
The Cowboys were winning left and right when TV coverage became a huge deal for NFL exposure in the US, the NFL overtaking baseball and college football as must-watch TV. They got airtime because they were winning, and fans all over the country adopted them as “their” team. People love rooting for a winner, and that exposure meant it was easy to watch the Cowboys no matter where you lived and that’s continued.
And marketing – the iconic stadium, a great badge, the “America’s Team”, they’ve probably got an exclusive noodle sponsor, but don’t quote me on that. I expect either John Deere or International Harvester is their official farm implement supplier, but again that’s a stab in the dark.
Any of this sound familiar? A United fan can check most of the above boxes, maybe with the exception of the length of trophy drought, but it hasn’t rained Premier League Title at Old Trafford for six years, maybe that’s the arid period setting in?
A couple of other comparisons to draw out:
The Premier League going global with TV deals happened just as United were hitting their stride under Ferguson. Global Brand Recognition-coincidence much?
The Glazers completed their takeover of the club in 2005, let’s give them the six years of momentum to 2011/12 to parallel Jones, then it’s been downhill since the last Premier League win under Ferguson. Revenues over Results. I think I’ll trademark that one.
It’s depressing reading, United (or Cowboys) fan or not. But I think it’s hard to argue that in global recognition terms, United are the “biggest” club in the Premier League. I’m not talking about winning, trophies, history, icons, legends. I’m talking biggest in global brand, because that’s what the Glazers want them to be.
Steve, Los Angeles
Best in the world?
I have a question I’d like to pose to the wise sages of the mailbox.
Rodri’s comment on Liverpool currently being the ‘best team in England and in Europe’ rekindled an age-old question I’ve always struggled to find an answer to.
Why is it that pundits, players, fans, just about everyone speaking about English (or European) teams that are currently at the top of their game refrain from ever saying ‘best in the world’? Is there some secret uber-league I’m not aware of?
Last year I was lucky enough to visit Brazil and see a Palmeiras game. They were good (and won comfortably), but I couldn’t help thinking about how a Liverpool or City would beat them quite easily.
So my question is this: is Europe not unrivalled in having the very best football teams on the planet, and if this is the case, why are more people not just saying ‘world’?
Bonus question: which non-European club teams could come closest to rivalling the European elite?
England and racism
Let’s all be prepared for the fact that tomorrow is going to be a clusterfuck. England’s stance is the correct one, but making it public before the game is going to be hassle.
Aidan, EFC, London
Vardy v Rooney letdown
I spent Wednesday having 3 customer meetings and driving between them I kept hearing ShoutSport talking about the amazing Rooney/vardy story but not actually telling me what the story was. I therefore spent the whole day wondering what this amazing story could be (mainly when the technical guys were deciding what spec flux capacitor they would need).
My mind wandered to what had happened and starting to imagine what could have taken place. My first thought was they must have gone on a massive bender together, getting pissed in some expensive club before getting naked and doing an impression of Frank the Tank round Derby city centre.
Then I thought no, they are better than that. Instead between them they decided they could sort this whole Brexit malarkey out so has jumped on a private jet to Brussels, burst into the parliament with Rooney punching Junker’s lights out before vardy sticks the nut on Tusk while shouting “chat shit, get banged”.
Then I thought it sounded like there was some kind of disagreement so maybe they had both bought huge blinged up tanks but had met on a narrow Cheshire lane with neither prepared to back down. With a hilarious comedy fight taking place with Rooney eventually crushing Vardy with his massive arse.
Imagine my disappointment when I rushed home to discover their wannabe celeb wives have had some kind of unedifying social media argument about who leaked pics of their latest solid gold chandelier or whatever it was.
Graham Kirk, Sunny Manchester
This to-and-froing of “we’ll be back” and “no you won’t” between ManUtd supporters / optimists and ABUs / pessimists is becoming boring. Football is unpredictable. It’s barely feasible to have a rough idea of where a club will be in a few months’time, let alone a few years. It’s possible that Ed has some sort of epiphany, happens to appoint an excellent DoF who in turn identifies the right manager, and a targeted team-building funded by a massive warchest sees United return to league challengers in the next 2-3 years. It’s equally possible that the club lurches from one manager to the next, each scapegoated in turn as the play get worse, the best players leave, the revenue starts to dry up, and they go 30 years without a title. They could simply wander along a middle ground, revenues always big enough to keep the Glazers happy and the team in and out of the Champions’ League, with the occasional minor trophy thrown in.
For anyone to claim that either of those outcomes is particularly more likely than another clearly hasn’t been following football for long. If anyone in 1990 said Liverpool wouldn’t win another title for 30 years they would have been laughed out of the room. Same with anyone in 2000 / 2005 forseeing the future dominance of Chelsea / Man City. Or Leicester’s title win. If 10 years ago you’d have told me that Juventus, coming from a 7th place finish, would win serie A unbeaten I’d have said you’re crazy, yet here we are 8 consecutive titles later with a 9th already looking like a good bet. And I’m sure there are hundreds of other examples.
If you’re an ABU, enjoy the schadenfreude while it lasts. If you’re a United fan, enjoy when you can and pipe down when you can’t, such is the lot of all football fans. And for all – don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s just a game.
Is it next Sunday yet?
I must admit i’ve felt slightly uncomfortable with the amount of reds writing in to offer their advice (and let’s be honest patronize and wind up) to United fans on their club’s current plight.
It feels a bit small time to me. Unless you’re part of Klopp’s coaching staff or have been integral in implementing FSG’s business plan at the club, just leave it yeah? I’ll never forget the exhilaration in 2013-14, having had my prime years as both a man and a football supporter blighted by the Ferguson era (who was the lad who called it an anomaly?! Sadly it lasted long enough to be the norm), of being able to watch on in joy as they were bloody awful on the pitch, and recent evidence suggests we might be getting another season of similarly glorious fare. So just enjoy that!
Yes some United fans, mentioning no names, come out with some wild, completely fabricated nonsense (some of it directed specifically at LFC and its fans), but others seem quite sanguine and reasonable about United’s situation and problems, having woken up to the b@llocks a lot of the media have spun them since Ferguson departed the stage. (Phil Neville on the BBC Sport website claiming before one season that a central midfield pairing of Herrera and Carrick would be why United would win the title being the high point for me).
But whatever, yes I know these international breaks are a boring bind for many people, but both sides only have to wait until next Sunday afternoon so the debating and crowing can start again, based on what happens between us on the actual pitch. And let’s not kid ourselves reds, just like the 1980s, we maybe a superior team to them, but in general we’re poor when we go to Old Trafford. In four games there under Klopp we’ve never won, scored three times, one of which was a pen and another an own goal. Right now i’d take another of those off Maguire’s arse in the 93rd minute and a clean sheet, and sod how we’ve played over the 90.
However should United extend Liverpool’s Old Trafford hoodoo, could I just request of yourselves F365 that the Monday morning main page title for the Mailbox is something along the lines of:
‘Warning LFC fans, it’s just one long letter from P**l M*rphy’.
A bit late to the party here but I’ve had a busy week.
All this discussion around Ole’s credentials and whether or not he’s capable of dragging Man Utd out of the (not hilarious at all) mire is making me sad.
Remember all those times when “they” said Klopp was not improving Liverpool?
Remember all those times his record was compared to Brendan’s and “they” said he hadn’t improved anything?
Remember all those times “they” said the defence was still rubbish?
So I say keep Ole. He just needs a few years. I mean he’s bound to come good in the end isn’t he?!
Adam Reep LFC (No bias or vested interest here whatsoever)
Just wanted to commend Paul Murphy on his latest entry. How on earth he managed to complete that with all those tears streaming down his face is utterly amazing. #prayformurph
Anomalies and dynasties
It’s been fun to read the back and forth from Liverpool and Man Utd fans following Anon’s epic trolling. The North West has always been the heartlands of English league football – 18 of the 91 league clubs are based in the historic county of Lancashire – and Man Utd and Liverpool have been the most successful and best supported English clubs nationally and internationally. In terms of success the two are basically the same, while Utd almost certainly have more fans due to a combination of the legacy of Busby’s two great teams (55-58 and 63-68) and then the years of success under Fergie which coincided with the Sky and Premier League eras. There doesn’t seem much point us arguing over that. Liverpool are in a good ‘moment’ currently (as Klopp would say) but to answer Jamie, Belfast’s point, whether Klopp builds a dynasty remains to be seen. Liverpool have managed to build dynasties in the past – 4 Liverpool managers in succession won the league (Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish) and of the 20 permanent managers Liverpool have had in their history 8 have won the league. Of Utd’s 24 managers only three have won the league (Ernest Mangnall, Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson). After Mangnall left in 1912, Utd went through 9 further managers before Busby won them the league in 1956 and then 6 (including Busby himself) before Ferguson won the league in 1993. It’s been four since Ferguson and it doesn’t look like Ole’s going to do it any time soon. Ferguson is an anomaly in Utd’s managerial history, a glorious, amazing, sustained anomaly. He did this by building a dynasty of teams but Utd was not able to sustain this beyond his reign. I hope Klopp does not prove to be an anomaly and builds a dynasty (he’s never going to get near Fergie’s haul, I’d be delighted with a Busby level achievement) like Shankly and I hope that Utd get through at least 9 managers after Fergie before they have another one of their anomalies!
…Just a cheeky first ever mail to highlight James Outram’s incredibly subjective definition of what constitutes a sporting dynasty – namely that it must include sustained success across multiple managers – phrased purely to discredit Ferguson’s reign and elevate Liverpool’s. Regurgitating a literal dictionary definition that applies to countries or businesses succeeded along hereditary lines (e.g. the Thompson dynasty that owns Blackpool Pleasure Beach) isn’t the be-all and end-all; dynasties are simply sports teams that are notably successful for an extended period of time, whether it be 3 titles in 5 years, or 27 in 55. Clubs like Real Madrid, Barca, Bayern etc can maintain dynasties across multiple decades because they are their league’s undisputed ultra-wealthy top dogs, regardless of managers/players etc, but other teams’ dynasties can be highly dependant upon individuals who transcend the game – Cloughie’s Forest in the late 70s, Eusebio’s Benfica in the 60s, and Celtic’s golden spell ’66-74 under Jock Stein. US sports is chock full of coach or player-led dynasties that double as team ones; Paul Brown’s Cleveland in the 50s, Vince Lombardi’s Packers in the 60s, Jordan and Jackson’s Bulls in the 90s, and Brady and Belichick’s Patriots 2001-encounting. Liverpool happened to dominate for 2 decades under successive managers, whereas United’s two dynasty periods each occured under a legendary manager – Busby and Ferguson. Instead of trying to decry the achievements of your rival through cherry-picking, take joy from the fact your club has a remarkable history within living memory and is building on it as we speak.
Jim in Liverpool (Newcastle United fan clinging onto black and white footage of a 50-year-old Fairs Cup win)