Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Supporting Manchester Utd has always been a dramatic edge of the seat kind of ride, thankfully much of this was down to the period of unprecedented success as a result of swashbuckling attacking football that dominated the premiership during the 90's.
However lately, the edge of the seat rush has taken a very different focus moving away from the pitch and back into the boardroom. Unrest at the club has gone hand in hand with the downturn in the clubs on the field fortunes as Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have wrestled the crown from the once king of English football.
The decision taken by David Gill and the board to sell to the Glaziers has rightly or wrongly led Manchester United down a path of which there is no return. This has led to the formation of breakaway club Manchester FC and in many respects has taken the spotlight of the teams repeated failure on both the domestic front and more alarmingly on the European front.
A lifelong supporter of the Red Devils, I find it difficult to sit and watch as my club begins to destroy itself from the inside out; the keystone to Alex Ferguson’s reign has been the clubs sense of self…Manchester UNITED. Us against them, it fostered the fortress Old Trafford mentality and as a result the success that came with it. These days the storm clouds seem to gather on a frequent basis as our friends from across the Atlantic struggle to get to grips with the concept of this great football club.
A quick look at the recent headlines demonstrates this…and begins to beg the question is Manchester UNITED???
MANCHESTER United marketing director Peter Draper will leave Old Trafford this week after six years, the second high-profile departure from the club's management side in the past week. The departure of the marketing manager will come as a surprise to many in the game, given that the club has just last month put the ink on a major new sponsorship deal. In April the club signed a new agreement with insurer American International Group (AIG) worth £56.5m (€80m) over four years. The deal replaced a £9m-a-year sponsorship with Vodafone which ran out at the end of the season just finished. Draper's departure comes days after United's doctor Mike Stone announced he was leaving, following a bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson.
A number of senior Old Trafford figures have now left the club since the takeover by Malcolm Glazer. His sons were installed as boardroom directors in June last year while plc chairman Sir Roy Gardner and executives Ian Much and Jim O'Neill resigned. In August, 25 backroom jobs were shed after a "structural review" following a drop in TV revenue. Off and on the pitch, United have undergone something of a wobble in recent years. Apart from being overtaken by Chelsea on the home front, the club has been eclipsed on the global stage by its Spanish rival Real Madrid, which leapfrogged United to become the world's richest football club.
On the playing side of things, Alex Ferguson has released eight members of his playing staff as he prepares his squad for next season’s assault on the Premiership title. The most high-profile of these is South African international Quinton Fortune, who was told before the end of the season that he would not be offered a new deal. Reserve team captain Markus Neumayr has also been released, as have youngsters Mads Timm, Eddie Johnson, Phil Picken, Tommy Lee and Mark Howard. Speculation continues to surround both 'Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo as AC Milan and Real Madrid track their moods and more importantly their relationship with Fergie respectively.
As any true Red will tell you, you can just never predict where the next twist in the road will lead Manchester Utd. How long will the Ferguson Reign continue? How long will the Glazier restructuring continue? But one thing is for certain with each passing development the club slip further and further away from its once imperious position and for now is no longer Manchester UNITED!