Glazer & Manchester United

Hmm, the old adage of “time’s a great healer” springs to mind; all them fickle souls (and all footy/soccer fans are fickle – fact!) who thought Glazer was the Doomsday scenario. Wonder how many of them who ‘left’ the fold, amidst some frankly OTT media frenzied (created?) scenes, are burning back to Old Trafford now the team is on it’s best run in recent seasons.

The real question is this – exactly how much influence has Glazer’s takeover had on recent upturn in fortunes for United ON the field? Theoretically none, other than possibly funding the Carrick transfer. Therefore, is it a coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

It’s fair to say when Glazer took over the club, the only people rejoicing were the ABU brigade (Anyone But United). of which there will always be a good number. Personally, I felt it was the ultimate irony that such a business-motivated club became a victim of it’s own success, and ultimately sold out to market forces.

MU have always had deep pockets for both transfers and wages, although Chelsea have eclipsed them in recent seasons both on & off the field. With the advent of Glazer, perhaps a stricter business overview was taken and certain aspects of the running of the club came under greater scrutiny. Losing Vodafone was a blip, but the Americans brought in a great backer in AIG that arguably aligned themselves better in their ‘benefactor’s’ adopted counry. Ferguson’s transfer spending in recent seasons have generally been hit and miss, for every Ronaldo there’s a Djemba Djemba, and even in Rooney (arguably the country’s greatest talent) there hasn’t been a great ROI. There has been a deep clearing of the deck with regard to the first-team squad, in that a lot of the ‘dead wood’ has been shipped on, and the squad (some 60 deep including all contracted players) has been temporarily trimmed with a lot of loan signings lent to foreign clubs.

In terms of investment & amount spent, the Carrick deal took everyone by surprise, namely that the general consensus was United wouldn’t be spending much with the debt hanging over the club. So to spend almost 7.5 times the amount Spurs paid less than two seasons ago, was a deal no-one could deny. Again, similar to Rooney, he isn’t the most influential player at Old Trafford, and with the likely acquisition of Owen Hargreaves, it could be argued it was more a statement of intent then being driven by need.

Where Ferguson’s recent transfers has paid dividends is in Vidic & Evra, two players that when purchased some folk were questioning the manager’s judgment, especially as he had strength in depth in these two positions. In fact, Vidic had arguably the worst debut of any player I have ever seen, for a time he couldn’t even keep on his feet and looked clumsy, unfit, and even inept. However, this season, both players have improved to the degree that Heinze is possibly looking for another club, and Vidic is possibly one of the most in-form centre halves in the league.

So, going back to Mr Glazer, he must be sitting pretty now. His team are still in Champions League & FA Cup, and look to be close to securing the Premiership, whilst playing easily the better football than Chelsea. Attendances are still strong, even though United (like every team seemingly in England) have been impacted in lesser crowds particular in European home games, and slower take-up of tickets. The anti-Glazer lobby in the media and fans seem hardly heard of anymore – again, this is likely a function of the team’s performance than anything – and so does this mean the whole exercise has been a success? As always, it’s too early to tell, if only because football has an uncanny knack of backfiring and shocking.

it’s the old story though – you can hide unpopularity by success; if you’re winning, it’s always easier to keep people onside.

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