ARE MANCHESTER UNITED fans revolting?
I guess we will see after the international break and the tricky set of fixtures that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team face.
Maybe the Glazer family think that by putting another £100m of shares up for sale right at the beginning of the Premier League’s latest break, they will avoid a significant public backlash from supporters opposed to their ownership.
And maybe they’re right.
When United fans stormed Old Trafford and forced the postponement of the Liverpool game in April, they had been triggered by United’s involvement in the European Super League plans.
That embarrassing fiasco led to years of anger and frustration at the Glazers’ ownership – and the general discontent of lockdown – pouring out in an inexcusably violent fashion.
No-one wants to see a repeat of that, of course.
And you could argue that United fans have less to complain about six months later.
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The club invested £135m over the summer in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and up-and-coming talent Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yes, even without the latest proposed sale of shares, the six Glazer siblings have taken more than £1billion out of United in loan repayments, dividends and management fees since the 2005 takeover.
Yes, a lot of that money could instead have been invested in the playing squad and the increasingly dilapidated Old Trafford.
But what more could the Glazers realistically have done in the last few months to boost the team’s fortunes on the pitch?
Buy a world-class defensive midfielder, perhaps. But that depends on them being available to buy. A stupid-money bid for Erling Haaland? There was no guarantee United would have won any such auction.
Re-signing Ronaldo instead – which spiked the share price, you’ll have noticed – was a calculated gamble. We’ll see in the next few weeks if it pays off for Solskjaer on the pitch as it already has for the Glazers off it.
Before the next international break, United will play lose-able Premier League games against Leicester, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City, plus a Champions League double-header against Atalanta.
The results in those matches will shape the mood of the majority of United supporters.
Groups like the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust will do their best to keep up the pressure on the owners whatever happens, but most fans care little about politics and finance, and a lot about what happens on the pitch.
They’re not alone. The Chelsea fans who were so appalled by their club’s support for the ESL that they took to the streets are noticeably less vocal since the Champions League triumph and the £98m signing of Romelu Lukaku.
The latest protest by Hammers United, the group that wants David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady out of West Ham, hardly registered last weekend..
For their part, the Glazers have made it clear that they are going nowhere. Even if Kevin and Edward successfully sell their shares, the family will still control 69 per cent of the stock.
Why would you give up an asset that keeps paying out, time after time? The Glazers won’t do that until someone makes them an offer that even they can’t refuse, and it’s hard to see that happening anytime soon.
Years and years of fan protests have not forced the Glazers out.
Even if United struggle this autumn and the supporters mobilise again, the only person who might end up leaving the club is Solskjaer.
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