Manchester United – At a crossroads

It should have been a feeling of job done on Sunday afternoon. Two goals from Mason Greenwood and a clincher by Edinson Cavani finally ended our Old Trafford hoodoo against Burnley.

It extended an unbeaten run in the league going back to January and clawed back some of Manchester City’s lead at the top. The club was clear in second and looking forward to a semi-final date with Roma in the Europa League. But all was not well off the pitch.

Dramatic news saw the announcement of a breakaway European Super League in direct opposition to existing competitions. The 12 rebel clubs saw us join five other English teams, along with three each from Spain and Italy. It is claimed the move was done in frustration at UEFA and FIFA and their unwillingness to meet their demands. Immediate opposition came from the European Club Association to the idea and from the governing bodies. The owners of the sides resigned their positions from these and set out their stall. A bright new world was ahead of us all that was destined to benefit football at all levels, while establishing an exciting era of competition ahead.

For some it will see clubs seizing back control from organisations like UEFA, who have long since being embroiled in corruption and scandal. For most, myself included, it signalled the end of the association between the club and its fans. Many of us who have supported the club through good times and bad to be tagged with the derogatory term of ‘Legacy Fans’.

It would have transformed fixtures into the realm of non-competitive. Games which once stirred the soul would now have been run of the mill. Playing the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Barcelona with the excitement of a Monday night encounter against Wolves. It also would have removed us from taking part in the English top-flight. The blurbs claimed we would still play regular fixtures in the home leagues. That would have been extremely far-fetched. Almost 150 years of regular league history, and keen rivalry with many, gone to the wind.

The one reason, and one reason only, for this was sheer greed. Unadulterated greed. The respective owners cared nothing for their fans. Especially ours. How could anyone believe the claims of people who took a massive amount out of the club whilst fans are still unable to see the team play. It would have allowed them a guaranteed level of high-profile matches against the major sides. And Spurs. They would have been free to negotiate TV rights and schedules to suit themselves. To rearrange games to be played outside of England/Europe, at different times and all of that. To satisfy a support base worldwide who is happy to follow whatever the club tells them. Not like us bunch of gobby twats.

Of course, we all saw what the backlash was in response. Far more than what they would have given us credit for. Stories emerged of the anger expressed by the playing staff in the aftermath, and refusal to be any part of it. Protests occurred at Elland Road and Stamford Bridge by fans. This resulted in a massive back-track. Certain clubs stated they were pressured into signing up to it and began to unravel quickly. Ed Woodward fell or was pushed from his post as Vice-Executive as the Glazers sought a scapegoat. Eventually all six announced their departure from it. With statements which ranged from apologetic to guarded. Guess where we lay on that scale.

Can we rest on our laurels now that the ESL idea is finished with? Can we fuck. As long as the Glazers are in control of our club, we are at risk in the future. Because it did not happen this time, it does not mean it won’t happen at all. We still are likely to face sanctions from the governing bodies, both within the UK, and in Europe. Those parasites will still continue to squander and leech funds from us. Instead of investing into structural upgrades at the ground, improving facilities, strengthening the team and rewarding its passionate support base. A grovelling apology does not change anything.
We cannot and must not forget this. The only way to get past this is to get rid of them. Greedy mismanagement has caused un-told anguish across the leagues within this country. Recent times have seen both Bury and Macclesfield go to the wall. Procedures regarding right and proper owners have been neglected badly. But whatever action we take must be properly organised. The green and gold protests was well intentioned but fragmented amongst the support. A solid movement against them needs a number of recognised high-profile names to lead it. I am not talking about a bunch of goons fronting webcams here. We need people of respect who can get support behind them. And it needs for us to be United across the board. Dissension will only cause a cause to splinter from within.

The club and its true support are at a crossroads. How the future looks will depend on what direction we take now.

Read more: Manchester United author Tom Clare writes open letter to Joel Glazer

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