Well we've all read David Gill's ill advised comments in recent hours. Pining his colours to the Glazer family mast. And criticizing the Old Trafford Faithful for giving a damn about their club. Nice one David.
In many ways I have had a small amount of sympathy for Gill, and the top brass employees of Manchester United in the last few years. It's their job at club level to makes sure the football operation is executed in such a manner, so that the Glazers commercial ventures have the substance they need to succeed. No trophies means no success..both in terms of amassing pots in the Red's museum and in terms of the Americans coffers. The two are intrinsically linked.
In my opinion up until this year, Gill has been a better chief exec than his predecessor Peter Kenyon. He has been less pompous and flash in his position, whilst still supporting the manager. He was also a defender of the United model pre-Glazers, and there's a dirty great big flag reminding one and all of his words from back in the day regarding the football club and debt. But here we are in 2010. And the man is the Glazer family's 'Go To' guy. He is a PR puppet now, rather than the guy who is the custodian of our football team. And in the stands we all know this.
Respect has been ebbing away from Gill over the past 12 months, passing through his fingers quicker than water. His latest comments are deliberately aimed at being inflammatory to every United fan who wears a Green & Gold scarf to matches, and has been said to create what I believe to be an 'elitist division'
What i mean by this is the first instance is that Gill is attempting to make an enemy of The Faithful...and its like a slick move on a chess board. He would love nothing more than us protesting fans to be so sickened by him and his bosses that we chuck the towel in and walk from the club. He would love nothing more than to leave Old Trafford to the millions of travelling football tourists and the casual business day tripper fans to fill up OT every week. He is not interested in stadium atmosphere. He is not interested in a hardcore fan base. He is certainly not interested in any of us. He is only interested in keeping his pay masters happy..it all sort of reminds me of Baldrick from the Blackadder TV series...coming up with a cunning plan that's just..well...not so cunning.
In the second instance he is trying to divide and conquer the common United fan. He mentions that there are loads of 'fans' out there that don't care about the money side of the business and just care about the football. In layman terms..he is right. But it is not these fans that really concern or connect with us. Yes they may feed the Glazer's bank balances by buying shirts and hats, but they have little connection with the club, or the area. (Note: I am not saying you are not a 'real and proper' fan if you don't come from Manchester, but the culture of the 'glory supporter' is apparent in all major sports. I have followed the Boston Celtics for 20 years now, but I have zero knowledge on the politics of the team or the structure of the organisation and I've been to Boston once. I own a Kevin Garnett Number 5 jersey and my son has a Paul Pierce Number 34. For all I know they could be owned by an alien from Mars.) He knows that if he can keep these 'fans' in check, and divide them from those that live and breathe the club, that he will be quids in. All very devious..but predictable.
None of this is not going to happen.
We are not going anywhere. We will not be divided.
In my opinion, I've heard nothing from the Red Knights or MUST that suggests that they have the power to do anything in the short and medium term. This battle against the owners will probably last years. And we have to be prepared to dig our heels in. The minute we give up our season tickets then the fight is lost. We lose our voice. Permanently.
David Gill wants this.
But he cannot have it.
It is true that the ground isn't sold out like it used to be. And it is true that there may even be a dip in attendances next year. But the club will never see anything below the 60,000 mark..and this will ensure that whoever ditches their ticket, that it wont make a blind bit of difference to Gill or the Glazers..its actually what they crave for. Their massive sponsorship deals will carry them through. And can you imagine if the Glazers took full control of United's TV rights..how much cash they could generate with that? A damn sight more than the current level of debt is at. And what would a European Super League do for profits? It's the reason why they are issuing 'hands off' statements today. They are not stupid.
So I call upon my fellow fans to wear your G&G again next season. We will protest long and hard. Find new ways to show our disdain. I wont be buying the new kit, cos it will be forecasted targets missed like £s from kit sales that will make the Glazers swallow some humble pie. Merchandise is king in the sports world, and this is but one of many ways to still see and support your team, but make life very very uncomfortable for the few that suck money out of Manchester United. Anything with that official club badge on...just avoid like the plague. It may not sound like much...but it is a start..heading in the right direction.
Gill will regret his words one day. Lets hope it is sooner rather than later. Anyone know a good United loving sugar daddy? Cos I think that's what we are gonna need soon if we are to topple these canny businessmen.
So after having my mind well and truly away from the football universe now all things United have shut up shop for the season, I inexplicably missed the initial breaking news that Lord Triesman had displayed 'Old Fools Syndrome' and put England's 2018 bid at risk from a sporting version of Foot and Mouth disease.
Treisman's comments are clearly inflammable, and without any concrete foundations. But there he is..in the company of a beautiful former aide (who claims to have had..ahem..'relations' with the old boy) and he's bragging about the size of his football involvement...
'I'll chuck in a bit of bribery here, a bit of John Terry dirt there...she'll love a bit of IT!'
Yet another stupendous peer who thinks he flies well ABOVE the radar..somewhere up in the stratosphere.
As foolish as Lord Triesman has been and as loose as his tongue has acted, the bigger story to come out of this is our country's filthy addiction to the bile that our newspapers can scoop up and feed us. The fact that this case has come about because of pure entrapment and the fact that some slag has tried to further herself both financially and publicly, gives you a snapshot of what truly is the English Disease in modern day Britain. Not hooliganism. Not party boy footballers. But your everyday man and woman, that buys these tabloid rags and supports this ecosystem of destruction.
How can a major national news (and i use that word very lightly) paper attempt to destroy England's bid for the biggest footballing honour a nation can have just to sell a few extra copies? It wouldn't happen in other countries. You wouldn't see the Spanish printing information about the English that would scupper their bid. The Russains wouldn't allow their journalists to embarrass them with trash allegations that would make the world think their country is basically RUBBISH!
What makes a nation have so little respect for itself?
This is, and has been, a major problem for us all in England for as long as i can remember. A nation always content with second place and never quite believing that first was possible. I remember the day clearly when London got the Olympics. It was more of a feeling of "Excuse me old boy, are you sure that the Olympic committee has chosen dear old Blighty?" than "We are the best so stuff the rest of ya's!" And then people complain when us United fans have more allegiance to our team than we do with the national set up..Its bull like this that just turns you off.
I believe that people should stop buying these papers and turn them into dinosaurs. They contribute to a popular English myth that we are ALL a nation of filthmongers who feed off scandal and gossip of the most dirty order. I hate to believe that England's inhabitants are nothing more than a walking, talking tripe episode of Eastenders..all sensationalism and zero substance..Soap Opera culture, so to speak. Stories like this tarnish what the world thinks of us and leaves us as a globally social pariah. Is that what we want? Are The Sun, Mirror and Mail the commentators for our generation?.. telling the world that the English actually 'hate England!' If you are one of those that buys the tabloids 'for the sport section' then you need to stop today. You have the Internet now and there is no excuse for this as their was 10 years ago. Stop being apart of this problem and put these rags of hate back in their place.
There are good newspapers out there...go find them...
It is a fair point to highlight that United are in a gazillion pounds worth of debt. It is also fair to point out that the Glazers will suck as many pennies from the club as they can, as English football franchise (gulp!) owners. But one thing is true. They will know that if they don't have some sort of transfer kitty...be it only the £20 million a season that was promised to Fergie when they bought up all the shares, that the club could fall behind the others and it would damage their investment.
Last night we saw the reason why Manchester United will buy this summer. As 'the most important game of the season' was being played at Eastlands between one filthy rich club and the filthiest richest club in the universe, Sir Alex's eyes would almost definitely be glancing away from Sky Sports 2 and on another channel.
The virtuoso performance of the boy Cristiano for his new employers that we flogged him to was not only breath taking, but sort of proves a few thousand points as well. The most important of them being that if you lose such a precocious talent..a player of such outstanding ability..you are gonna feel it..and eventually you have to do something about that.
Sir Alex has been known to bide his time when one of his talisman leaves. He understands the problem..with one which you cannot replace, you need time and planning to adapt and rebuild. Cantona was irreplaceable. So he didn't try to. He adapted the team instead. Schmeichel was irreplaceable. So he didn't try and buy a clone but looked at different options as a whole. No one could cross a ball like Beckham, so he didn't try and find a player that maybe could. Fergie never tries to replace the very very very best with what others would consider the next best thing.
However, since the departure of Ronaldo now very nearly a year ago, it is evident that despite the heroics of Rooney, and the encouraging form of 'supposed' replacement Valencia, that United have lost a serious piece of artillery. Watching Ron score his hatrick last night, which represented his 23, 24 and 25th goals of an injury hit La Liga season, you just swooned at his ability and the grace he gives a football team. The man is like a radioactive nuclear bomb to an opponent. At £80 million he is looking like one hell of a bargain. It sort of made my stomach turn watching him yesterday, and sad that I used to witness him do that in the flesh from my vantage at Old Trafford every week. You don't know what you've got til its gone someone once sang. I think it was the very first time that I actually missed the ol' winker.
So with rumours abound that David Silva has said a move to United would be incredibly tempting and that the Premier League is the best in the world, it feels that its time Fergie got the chequebook out. £30 million was earmarked for Benzema last year, so I expect that the Glazers wont have a problem forking out that if Fergie clicks his fingers for a deal on the silky Spaniard. We must not forget that Chicharito and Smalling have already been added to the squad, so if we presume that the club doesn't sell anyone this year (though that is yet to be proved) then a marquee player like Silva would be a fantastic acquisition. There's still the risk that Nemanja Vidic may get tempted to a place where it does not rain as much, and also if someone comes in with a half decent bid for Berbatov he may well go, but other than them I cant see any outgoings of major concern.
The manager is the master of the rebuild. He has all the old blurprints stashed away in that locked draw in his office, that he has used before. Win or lose the title this Sunday is irrespective too the point. And that point is that if Fergie even just watched five minutes of Ronaldo yesterday, he will casting out his net for one of football's bigger fishes sometime very soon.
Firstly, I have to say I didn't expect any favours from Liverpool. I wasn't praying for some sort of miracle, or that the Scouse would cut their own noses off to spite their 18 league titled face.
Liverpool were the team I envied as a boy. I supported a team that was a 'former' giant. Yes we still won quite a few games, but silverware was scarce. An FA Cup win represented a heart felt triumph, that would lead to much Mancunian merriment. We didn't even dare dream of winning a league title back then. Because if we did, then the reality that was the Big Red Machine from down the M62 would rear its ugly head, cock back its bionic neck and dive forward with teeth made from razorblades. We were second class citizens to their football royalty.
Things have changed since the Seventies and Eighties, and thankfully so. I need not bore you (ahem!) with detail of United successes...league titles, European glory, beautiful players and a Theatre of Dreams. We all know what happened next. It's been a generation since Liverpool last won the league. A fifth of a century has passed since a Liver Bird got it's feathers anywhere near the title. And on Sunday we saw what I feel was the lowest they have ever sunk too.
Only a fool would really believe that Steven Gerrard meant to pass the ball to Didier Drogba...that he was trying to lose a game in front of the Kop. Yes..some Scouse idiots did clap as Drogba rounded Reina to slot home, but they are cretins who defecate on the history of their own club. Rather than be a deliberate act by Gerrard, it was one of a deeply philosophical relevance. The final nail in the coffin of a side that no longer believes what their elders tell them. Take Burnley, Derby County or Wolves..all teams that have won the League Championship in what is living memory for many old football fans. These supporters remember the day their team ruled..and they have told their kids about it, and their grandchildren. However the point is that these achievements just become stories..told by one generation to a younger one. They are like fairytales..that are often followed by a nightmare or three.
Liverpool have left behind that history now to their older fans. And it has been true that ALL of their fans are in the middle of one great big nightmare NOW..Nineteen defeats in a season..the Champions League but a distant dream. A manager who really does look like he would be better waiting tables. A captain that will question that his career has been wasted. A world class striker that will demand a move to something better. A team so weak that only a year after 'nearly' winning a league, have decomposed quicker than your average compost heap. It is chronic. It is terminal. It has the stench of a club that's about to become 'Sleeping Giants'..joining the cast headed by Newcastle United. It is Lucas Leiva personified.
Many will say that Liverpool are at a crossroads now. But i think that crossroads was met twelve months back..when Liverpool had the chance to effect their immediate history in a positive manner. Manchester United were at a similar junction in 1989. A simple goal by Mark Robins changed United's future forever on a cold wet day at the City Ground, Nottingham. My 12 year old self punched the air as the diminutive striker poached the goal and the game for us. That memory is lodged in my head. Had United not won that day it was felt that Alex Ferguson would have been sacked, and despite the old board refuting this now in the modern day, if you were supporting the team in those days you will remember his head was on the chopping block primed for decapitation, playing similar stuff that you see Liverpool play today. It was all over bar the shouting. But somehow with a little luck and a pro-active attitude, Fergie took a stride forward..and we all went with him. Likewise, as Benitez has slipped further into the pits of hell, he has taken his players and supporters with him. He has built a side of hugely average proportions, and he has made sure that the memories of a once great club are purely that...flashes in the long term thoughts of older fans and only to be played on club history DVDs.
And as the Big Four is reduced to the Big Three, a new menace sits on the horizon. And it is the presence and power of Manchester City that will prove the real death of Liverpool. Not only have the Merseysider's been ousted by the new boys, they have already been 'replaced'. Money talks..and our evil blue brothers have plenty of it to make sure that the quota of Champions League clubs is full for the foreseeable future. Add Spurs and Villa to that mix...and it really looks like that Anfield will become English football's newest ghost town.
A coastal town they forgot to close down. Come Armageddon...come.
Manchester United fan since the age of 9 when he saw Norman Whiteside curl the ball into a Wembley goal in the dying minutes.
He is an Old Trafford season ticket holder in the North Stand Tier 3...and cried tears of joy, on his knees with the many in Moscow.
Rob is now a contributing author/editor at Man Utd blogzine 'The Faithful'