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What does United's continued success say about the Glazers?

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Dan Roan | 09:10 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

They may have been beaten by Arsenal on Sunday but, barring a minor miracle at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, Manchester United will underline their status as the stubbornly dominant force in English football when they reach a third Champions League final in four seasons.

After one of United's most convincing European away performances in Gelsenkirchen, last week, the formality of the second leg will surely be completed even if key players are rested.

Once a Wembley date with Barcelona is confirmed, Sir Alex Ferguson can then turn his attention to what appears to be a season-defining showdown against Chelsea on Sunday. Despite their opponent's recent revival, it is United who remain favourites, and a 19th league title, their fourth in five years, should be secured.

It is when put into this context that the true extent of Ferguson's achievements become clear but does it also demand a reappraisal of the club's owners too? The hundreds of millions of pounds of debt the Glazers saddled United with were, according to many, sure to bring decline by restricting the club's ability to compete in the transfer market. Yet United continue to accumulate silverware.

It was as recently as October that the club was traumatised when the talismanic Wayne Rooney voiced the fears of many fans by allegedly asking for a mega-bucks transfer to arch-rivals Manchester City. Rooney was openly questioning United's ambition and ability to compete for the best players.

He seemed to have a point. Three draws in a row had left United five points behind a rampant Chelsea, last year's double winners. And while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez had left, potential replacements such as Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil were lured to Spain. The club still leaned on stalwarts like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes and the next generation seemed raw and perhaps even a bit cheap.

Manchester United fans continue to protest about Malcolm Glazer's ownership of the club

Manchester United fans continue to protest about Malcolm Glazer's ownership of the club

Rooney was eventually given 200,000 reasons a week to stay and is back to his rampaging best, the likes of Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling look like absolute steals and the evergreen Giggs has continued to astonish.

Old Trafford is a fortress again, with no home defeat in 13 months. United's away performances in Europe, symbolised by the stellar showing against Schalke, have been as good as ever. Ferguson is building his fourth great United side.

And as the club stand on the verge of another European final and domestic title, Ferguson has been proved right when he defiantly told Rooney that United remained the place to be. Have the Glazers been vindicated too?

On Tuesday I asked Ferguson whether the owners deserve more credit.

"They don't have any criticism from me or from anyone in the club. I think that's important," he said.

"I think they feel comfortable with the way the club is run and how they conduct their business. We have absolutely no problem with that. It's always going to be an outside thing."

Ferguson has hardly flung praise in the direction of Florida over the years - he is too sensitive to those who wear green and gold for that - but he was under no obligation to answer my question. Yet he chose to do so and from what he said he does appear to be genuinely comfortable with the regime.

Clearly, the manager is in a somewhat awkward position but it seems unlikely a man like Ferguson would not make his feelings known if he was unhappy.

Off the pitch, too, results are improving. In February, the club revealed overall revenues of £156m for the six months to December, up 8% on a year earlier.

Commercial sales were up 30% to £50m, despite calls by the anti-Glazer campaign to boycott club merchandise, virtually ensuring United will become the first club to make £100m a year from commercial revenue alone. And the club's debt was reduced by 9%, albeit to a still considerable £489m.

Meanwhile, the Glazers' insistence that United is not for sale, combined with this season's good performances, has meant the air of rebellion that became a feature of Old Trafford last season has subsided.

There will still be plenty of green and gold on Wednesday but the mood will be very different from when Bayern Munich knocked United out of the Champions League here last year.

If all goes to plan in the next month, the Glazers will perhaps feel confident enough to walk out of Wembley with heads held high and point to two Champions League triumphs, four Premier League titles, three League Cups and a Club World Cup since their takeover in 2005.

But then again, maybe not.

The Glazers' recent decision to sue a fan who is alleged to have published the details of corporate customers on the internet proves there is a long way to go before peace breaks out. There are still many who believe the true cost of the Glazers' ownership is yet to be felt and United's continued success is more a reflection of the frailties of their rivals, rather than the qualities of those who run the club.

"Our success is in spite of the Glazers, not because of them," insists Ian Prior of the Manchester United Supporters Trust.

"They've been very fortunate to have a manager like Sir Alex Ferguson. We should be fighting for our 20th title, not our 19th. If we'd had the money to keep Tevez and to buy a creative midfielder of the calibre we deserve, we could have done even better.

"Success on the pitch has taken the wind out of our (the anti-Glazer movement) sails. There's always going to be a large section of the crowd who are happy when we're winning and only come because United are successful, but success only covers over the cracks and delays the inevitable.

"The really big question is when Ferguson eventually goes and who replaces him."

United fan Andy Green, the man behind the andersred blog which analyses football finance and ownership, agrees.

"Nothing changes the fact that the Glazers' financial structure has cost the club more than £250m in interest and bank fees in the last five years. Vast amounts have been transferred from the fans to the owners in order to pay for their ownership," said Green.

"That money could have been spent on halving ticket prices for everyone at Old Trafford for the next five years."

In March, United's parent company revealed losses of £109m for the year to June 2010. The net transfer spend in that period was £56m, less than Manchester City invested, of course, but also less than Aston Villa and Sunderland spent.

"The truth is that Ferguson is operating on a far tighter budget than other major European teams," said Green.

"If we have been scaremongering about the Glazers all this time then I'd urge them to prove otherwise. Give Ferguson a war chest so he can buy the centre-half, midfielder and goalkeeper we desperately need. Look at the way we're limping towards the finishing line. We've won just five matches away in the league all season."

United do appear to have been fortunate that their own transitional period has coincided with Chelsea's confusion over how to integrate Fernando Torres and Arsenal's continued inability to turn potential into trophies. Perhaps the FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester City and the somewhat laboured display at the Emirates were a sign of things to come, evidence that United have merely been postponing the pain.

Much depends, of course, on how one measures success and who United see as their competition. In 2009, United's fans travelled to Rome full of confidence they could beat Barcelona and win a second successive Champions League final. They were soundly beaten.

The fact that two years later United will start as underdogs, even at Wembley, is telling. While Barca have invested in the likes of David Villa and Javier Mascherano, United's team is largely the same, minus Ronaldo and Tevez.

In truth, the gap between the two sides has widened and deep down Ferguson will know this. He will try everything in his power to defy it, and may manage to, but he will know United have fallen behind.

Perhaps a better time to judge the Glazers will be later this summer when Ferguson goes to the board and asks them to release the funds required to purchase long-term replacements for the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Giggs, Scholes and Edwin Van der Sar.

Will the Glazers, for example, decide they can afford the £80m needed for Wesley Sneijder's fee and salary? Only then will we discover whether Ferguson enjoys the support that chief executive David Gill insists he does.

Until that time, no one can deny the Glazer era has been successful on the pitch and the gloomy prophecies of those that want them gone are yet to come to pass. But one also suspects it could have been even better if United were freed from the financial costs the Glazers' ownership entails.

Whatever the outcome at Old Trafford on Sunday and at Wembley later this month, the Glazers are a long way from winning the argument.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting read and you seem to have covered all the points.

    However, how should Man U really be judged? By the own standards, or their position in comparison to the opposition?

    Right now they are top of the tree and they have fans coming out of their ears who will not be interested in the green and gold campaign, or whatever it was. They are not in any trouble right now but let's see what happens in five years time.

  • Comment number 2.

    Machester United 2017 bonds trade at a yield of 6.5%. That compares to over 11% in January 2010. That means not only that financial markets are considerably more comfortable with Man Utd debt than previously, but also that Man Utd debt is viewed as more secure than the debt issued by Portuguese and Irish governments, for example. If you want to have a view on Man Utd finances, you should look at this yield rather than reported revenues.

  • Comment number 3.

    Whilst there are still many unanswered questions regarding the glazer ownership of the club, the facts dont lie. Hopefully tonight we will complete the job and reach the Champions League Final, a far cry from events earlier on in the season. I believe the really test for United will be replacing Ferguson when the time comes. This is a problem any owner would face and up until recently i thought Mourinho had already been lined up. Now im not so sure. His negative style of play particularly in Madrid last week would not fit the United mould. Whoever they choose, it must be the right manager with the right timescales for success

    I will also be interested in seeing how the club approaches ticket pricing for next season as i believe Tampa Bay Buccs have reduced their prices.

    Finally, its my personal view that we just have to accept who currently owns the club. Yes as fans we can vote with our feet and not go to matches etc but i believe that is not showing true support for the club. United fans have been spoilt with success in the last twenty years so in comparison with the likes of Liverpool, Leeds, Everton etc we should be grateful for what we have and enjoy Ferguson's last years in charge.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'll first of all like to state that whatever has happened regarding silverware at O.T has been purely down to the great work of SAF and his players.

    The Glazers have done very little in terms of investment .. You just have to look at how much money they have spent on players since the took over against the millions received from the sales of players such as Ronaldo , Kieran Richardson etc ..

    They are in to make money and the earlier they leave the brighter the future of united ..

    And please stop linking uniteds success on the pitch to the glazers ..

  • Comment number 5.

    It's been the same story for 3 season we need to replace VDS, Giggs and Scholes. None of the 'long term' replacements (Nani, Anderson, Foster) look capable so now we need to spend big.

    And because we've put it off and off other top players now (or in the not too distant future) need replacing (Ferdinand, Berbatov and Evra)

    The only reason we're where we are is Fergie.

    As Hanson says, if Fergie was boss at Chelsea, Arsenal or City he'd have won the lot by now.

  • Comment number 6.

    remind me, what exactly have they won in the last two seasons ?

  • Comment number 7.

    I still feel that it is important to note that the Champions League semi's aren't over yet. Man United won with style in their last match, but they only have a 2-0 advantage over Shalke, and they've shown their ability this season on more than one occasion. To take them lightly will be United's downfall.

    Secondly, they're up against a Chelsea side that could take all three points and storm towards the title. If this happens and Man Utd fall at the last hurdle against Shalke or Barcelona it will be a trophyless season for Fergie and a team that has struggled to perform this season.

    It's an all-or-nothing moment for United, although this is no way indicates that Fergie and his team shouldn't be immensely proud of how far they've come.

  • Comment number 8.

    #5 theyounggun

    It does bring a smile to my face when I think back to Ferguson's comments about Chelsea's ageing team and what you say about half a dozen or so Man U players needing replacing imminently.

    Of course, in Smalling, maybe Evans, the Da Silva brothers, Hernandez etc, there is the possible nucleus of a team going forward. I just wonder if it'll be Ferguson who'll see them to fruition?

    As for Ferguson's replacement, regardles of recent events involving Mourinho, I think the long standing criticism of him is that he doesn't seem to stay anywhere long enough to build a team/squad in the way that has been the bedrock of the continuity that Ferguson has enjoyed. Will Mourinho change/develop? He's running out of places to go so he may have to.

  • Comment number 9.

    @ Number 6.... depends on which two seasons you mean. If one of those is this season then your getting a bit ahead of yourself as i don't think it's over quite yet.
    The last two seasons prior to this one then You'll find a Championship and two carling cups!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Manchester United certainly have not had the depth they've had in the past and this season has shown. This season's United team is not a vintage United team and doesn't play very attractive football - what has gotten it through is the steely determination of the likes of the manager and experienced players which has seen them get results. The 2008 Manchester United team would comfortably thrash this one - partly because they have Ronaldo on their side to be honest.

  • Comment number 11.

    The Glazers will never be loved by Utd fans as it is purely a business venture for them. But ill feelings will ease as long as the team keep winning trophies. How long Utd can keep that up for is up for debate as Fergie willretire sooner or later. And then it's down to the new man to continue that succes.

  • Comment number 12.

    United's success over the past 20 years has been 90% down to Sir Alex Ferguson, a lot of credit has to be given to the previous board for backing him those first 5 seasons without a title, but now in the last 5 years the success is 100% down to Ferguson. No other manager of a top European side has been able to cobble together a successful side in spite of such chronic underinvestment.
    Money doesn't guarantee success, but over the longer term lack of money does guarantee lack of success, just look at Arsenal.
    I'm not a financier but I've yet to hear a good argument as to why it has been a good thing to take a well run, profitable organisation and plunge them into debt, not of their own making. All I've heard is talk that the Glazers have increased revenues for United, revenues were increasing before they arrived and would likely have continued to do so, the difference now is that instead of that increased revenue being spent on the club, not just in terms of playing staff, but the club in general, it is now largely being spent on servicing the debt.
    We've been told for nearly 3 years now that the Ronaldo money is available for Ferguson to spend yet the proof of the pudding is in the eating (not 'the proof is in the pudding as many incorrectly say), and United are still going hungry.

    goodwilltheblue - Ask that question again in 4 weeks.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think its been a strange season and certainly nothing has been vintage from united this season with the exception of giggs, but united to me look frail for the first time in years, scholes and giggs are pampered and played at the right times, but beyond that they lack something.

    The interesting next move is champions league money, if that is reduced by the tv rights court case we could see lee repayment money for the glazers.

  • Comment number 14.

    Where has this myth that the Glazers have not spent any money come from?

    Uniteds major signings since the Glazers took over (6 seasons ago):

    Anderson & Nani £30m
    Owen Hargreaves £17m
    Valencia £16m
    Michael Carrick £13m
    Hernandez £9m
    Smalling £8m
    Tosic £8m
    Bebe £7.4m
    Nemanja Vidić £7m
    Patrice Evra £5.5m
    Park Ji-Sung PSV Eindhoven £4m
    Obertan £3m
    Tomasz Kuszczak £2.125m
    Edwin van der Sar £2m
    Ben Foster £1m

    Total £164m / Average £27.3m per season

    Major leaver:

    Ronaldo £80m

    When you look at the players they signed, you can argue that the 'big money' players (berbatov, anderson/nani, hargreaves, carrick) have been flops, and the 'cheap' players (hernandez, vidic, evra, park, VDS) have been a success

    1) united have spent a lot in the last 6 years
    2) They have also shown you dont need to spend loads on class players

  • Comment number 15.


    This is what I mean

    If it was done in long-term manner over the past few seasons we would be ok, but unlike Abramovich, we don't have a spare £150m to splash in the off season.

    What Fergie says and what he feels are two different things, but it's clear regardless of whether or not we win anything this season we need to invest heavily in the summer, which I can't see us doing.

  • Comment number 16.

    #9, i mean last season and this one, even if you win the league (watch out for sunday) i'm sure you'll agree hardly vintage stuff.

    Carling cups, aah well they are trophys after all, 5th choice on your list, hardly unqualified success for united as the blogger has intimated

  • Comment number 17.

    Dan Roan | 09:10 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011....."the formality of the second leg will surely be completed even if key players are rested."

    This is exactly the ignorant kind of armchair presumption that brings out the ABE brigade with accusations of English arrogance and asking to be knocked off our perch, and more often than not our media are at the root of it. I'm not sure any United players would dare tell SAF that tonight's game is a formality. The opposition deserve at least a modicum of respect.

  • Comment number 18.

    Who cares, i would love to see Untied fall down!!

    Have no money to spend on new players once the likes of Giggs, Scholes, VDS go! struggle to find a decent manager to replace Sir Alex!

    Then because they cant lure the top names into Old Trafford, find them selves chasing the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal and even City. then these so called United fans (half not from Manchester) not bother going to watch because they want to glory hunt another team.

    what a beautiful sight that would be to see Old Trafford half empty with Boo and jeers ringing out as they sit mid table!

  • Comment number 19.

    I heard this interview and was disgusted to hear someone actively trying to introduce Glazer spin at unrelated match pres conference. To find out that it's a bbc journlaist who has chose to raise the topic is even more disappointing given the organisation's excellent work on the Panaroma program. There are enough Glazer sycophants among United's apathetic support as it is without the licence fee funding cheerleading for them.

    The only thing the Glazers deserve credit for is letting Ferguson get on without interference but this was the position before. Plc chairman Gill and Kenyon before him never influenced Fergie but they backed him with significant amounts of net investment in the playing staff. To not answer your question would be to directly draw negative attention to the club's owners which he simply isn't going to do.

    As MUST correctly state the current success is in spite of the Glazers not because of them, the levels of investment in the playing staff have decreased at a time when commercial revenues have increased significantly and ticket prices have shot up since the pre-Glazer era. The club's support is divided with many hard core fans priced out of the club. The club is also saddled with debt that it is merely servicing through interest payments that could be used to invest in the side.

    If the Glazers are so wonderful why has there been no dialogue withe the support in 6 years. Why have they hidden the club's ownership in Delaware since the PIK loand were mysteriously paid off?

    Andersred is correct to state the acid test for the parasites will be firstly when Van Der Sar, Giggs and Scholes retire - Ferguson will be lucky to find a Smalling or Hernandez to replace each of them and secondly when Ferguson goes as a new manager (in particular Mourinho) will want significant funds to be made available for players rather then current sell to buy regime in operation.

    There has been no change in mood - the anti-Glazer sentiment is alive and kicking but those who protested with genuine feeling last year have boycotted. To hint that the negative result of the Bayern game encouraged protest is a red herring as the greatest night in terms of protest was the Milan game last season which United won 4-0.

  • Comment number 20.

    14. At 12:36pm 4th May 2011, keenos2000

    You mention that United have spent a lot and have given a list of those players United brought in since the Glaziers took over, though you fail to mention the players that have been sold over the same period. Those released out-weigh those that were brought in, to the tune of over 169,000,000 to balance the books that included apart from Ronaldo, some profile names.

    United were devoid of any debt prior to the Glaziers taking over, since then the club have been saddled with THEIR debt and the cost of servicing THEIR debt and SAF has to had to balance what come's in to what goes out.

  • Comment number 21.

    keenos2000 wrote:

    Anderson & Nani £30m

    Total £164m / Average £27.3m per season

    Major leaver:

    Ronaldo £80m
    Another urban myth! What about:

    Pique £6M
    Rossi £7M
    Heinze £8M
    Foster £6M
    Richardson £5.6M
    Tosic £7M
    Campbell £3.5M
    Smith £6M
    Van Nistelrooy £10
    Howard £3M
    Mikel £12M

    Do some research and you'll find that Man United's net transfer dealings are a lot less than you (amongst many others) think even with the big money signings.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'd like to post a comment...

  • Comment number 23.


    I think you're forgetting a large number of transfers out to be honest. Van Nistelrooy, Foster, Pique, Richardson, Phil Neville, Kleberson, Rossi, Alan Smith (£6m!), Heinze, Campbell have probably brought in around 55m between them, and that's without a lot of minor transfers like Bardsley, Eagles, Saha etc. I'd bet the net spend in the Glazer's time is below what they've brought in.

  • Comment number 24.

    6. At 12:05pm 4th May 2011, goodwill_the_blue wrote:
    remind me, what exactly have they won in the last two seasons ?


    Let me remind you, last season Utd missed out on the title by one single point. And this season is not over yet.

    Unless you mean the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, in which case they won the league title, the league cup and reached the Champions League Final.

  • Comment number 25.

    10. At 12:18pm 4th May 2011, dave wrote:
    Manchester United certainly have not had the depth they've had in the past and this season has shown. This season's United team is not a vintage United team and doesn't play very attractive football

    They have scored 71 goals in 35 games. It's hardly "1-0 to the Arsenal" is it?

    I think this is an opinion that some journalists have helped form, by comparing the current side to teams of the past, a favourite journalistic game. Well we can all do that. I can say that 1950s Real Madrid with Puskas & Di Stefano or 2002 Real Madrid with Zidane would thrash Mourinho's Madrid of this season. There's only Barcelona at the moment who can argue they currently have the best side they've ever had in their history.

  • Comment number 26.


    What exactly have they won in the last two seasons ?


    What have the Romans ever done for us?


  • Comment number 27.

    Ok... either you Dan Roan, or the some of the other BBC reporters, are lying!

    "And the club's debt was reduced by 9%, albeit to a still considerable £489m."

    Back in March the BBC columnists were saying that Man Utd were now down to about £350M in debt, so which is it? £489M or about £350M?

  • Comment number 28.

    The money-making aspect of United keeps on maturing, and I think the income is increasing faster than the debt.
    How long the Glazer's wait to clear the debt off is up to them, by 2017 most probably, but United aren't in an exactly dire financial position, they have the highest operating profit of any club, and the third highest revenue per year, mainly because Real Madrid and Barcelona are able to manage their own TV rights.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ 18- (making the assumption you're a Geordie)

    "then these so called United fans (half not from Manchester) not bother going to watch because they want to glory hunt another team."

    United's average crowd in their one and only season outside the top flight- 48,388

    Newcastle's average crowd before Keegan took over- 16,879.

    Best fans in the country those Geordies.........

  • Comment number 30.

    For some reason I can't do my whole post at once so I'll break it into bits...

    Firstly I resent the implication that I am a glory-hunter simply because I don't follow the "green and gold" campaign. Ian Prior and his ilk and go take a long walk off a very short pier. They claim that people like me are glory hunters because we don't complain as long as we are winning? Rich, coming from so-called fans like him who would rather see the club run into the ground by boycotting your own team than showing support for the club regardless of who owns it.

  • Comment number 31.

    I don't like the fact the Glazers saddled us with debt when they bought us and I don't have any particular love for them but they have done nothing wrong either, in fact they have been very, very good at increasing revenue (you could argue by necessity but that's a moot point - they are business men, they want to make money). But what difference does it make now? Can you turn back time? No... so put up with it and show some support you ungrateful shower. Why do reporters even speak to the MUST lot? They spout nothing but incessant rubbish.

  • Comment number 32.

    Yeah Giggs has managed to continue to astonish all right! ;-)

  • Comment number 33.

    re 16.
    You just have to laugh at this persons comments, meaning this season and last season lol.
    Vintage post mate...... top notch.

  • Comment number 34.

    As for AndersRed, while I respect his work he must think we fans are daft to believe that Man Utd would have put the money for the debt repayments towards halving the cost of tickets... are you having a laugh? They were already some of the cheapest tickets in the country at the time of the takeover, do you REALLY beleive they would have been made cheaper? Yes, the glazers raised the ticket prices but they were already low and they wanted to maximise revenues, pure business sense. If you are going to blab on about debt repayments and how much better the money could have been spent then you also have to take off all the additional revenue that the Glazers have been so effective at realising... commerial revenues do not just hit £100m a year by itself.

  • Comment number 35.

    It didn't really have anything to do with the Glazers themselves ultimately, to the fans it was always the club's future being put in danger by the amount of debt that the club was saddled with.

    If the club hadn't of been saddled with the debt originally there would of been vastly less support for the green and gold movement (and before that the FC United of Manchester).

    There are still alot of fans who are against foriegn ownership but to most fans it was the future of the club that mattered alot more than who the owners were (whether it was the original PLC) or the Glazers.

  • Comment number 36.

    This article is the best example, I have to admit, on how to write the wrong thing in the wrong time. It's a semi final taking place today, involving United, while SAF is the right person to ask his opinion on how the Glazers affect the club but only when he retires.

    I'm trying to understand what answer the author was expecting from SAF. He's on the twilight years of the most decorated career in football management in the UK. What he wants is to prolong the success and make it even more impossible to match, rather than providing ammunition to the board for his replacement.

    The continued Manchester United success says more about winning mentality and procedures in the club than what it says about the Glazers, really. We're witnessing football seasons where United don't invest as much as others do, yet generating the top club revenue in the Premiership and one of the 3 top club revenues in the footballing world.

    Also, it is in the interest of Glazers that United will keep being in the elite of football's world stages because this is the only mechanism for their trick on how you make a killing out of a world class football club to succeed. Drop out of top four and you see them seeking buyers for the club or repaying the debt they've created on United's back.

    Complacency is already in place, on the behalf of the United board. This season, they got away with the fluke successes of Smalling and Hernandez acquisitions, who shined unexpectedly just in time to avoid unfortunate scenarios.

  • Comment number 37.

    The Glazers didn't just take over and then go... "how are we going to pay all this debt?" They are not stupid, they are in the business of making money and while the paying customers (the fans) will have to bare the cost of it they also realise that they cannot fleece the fans forever and that it will only get them so far so they have turned to commerical interests. People give the Glazers no credit at all, like they were born yesterday and had no idea what they were doing buying a football club. The reality is that the Glazers are the intelligent lot, it's the mass of green and gold that barely has a brain cell to share between them.

  • Comment number 38.

    Dan Roan wonders if Man Utd's owners deserve more credit is the tag line.

    Well they will definitely need more financial credit if they want to continue to buy more premier league trophies.

  • Comment number 39.

    Man Utd would have succeeded with or without the Glazers of that much I am certain but long term I think we will be thanking the Glazers for making us one of the most profitable clubs in the world - despite the short term restricition on spending which is about to become less of an issue when the need Financial Fair Play rules appear...

    ...I can't be bothered to post up more, as it was meant to be one long post!

  • Comment number 40.

    36. "This season they got away with the fluke successes of the Smalling and Hernandez acqusitions"

    Hang on, presumably Man Utd's scouting network spotted and recommended these players.

    Are you saying that Man Utd's board should ignore the signings of players for bargain fees and just sign players that are big names for inflated sums of money?

    Using this criteria, Schmeichel and Solskjaer were "fluke" signings as well, and they were pre-Glazer. So you've confused me.

    Because Ferguson isn't going out and buying a £30m player every summer, aren't you just using that as a stick to beat the Glazers with? When he says he doesn't see value in the market or can't persuade other clubs to sell their best players, why do you assume Ferguson is lying?

  • Comment number 41.

    Bellion, I am a United fan and have a dislike for the Glazers but you should remember the BBC has a duty to be impartial and balanced. I felt the balance of this article was good, given that many fans were predicting the rapid implosion of United with the Glazers coming now we are 6 years later and it hasn't happened then such a perspective is worth bringing up. Additionally though the blog does consider the opinions of the fans and the papering over the cracks argument. I think you are being very short sighted on this article and should try and step back and see the balanced perspective the blog is written in. If you even bothered to read the whole blog that is, I suspect you may have made your comments based solely on the title!

  • Comment number 42.

    As a non-United fan I'm curious; has the 'increased revenue' that the club so proudly boasts about hit fans harder in the pocket (higher prices for tickets, merchandise etc) or is it simply due to exploiting previously untapped markets?

    If it is the latter, then the owners and executives deserve some credit. If it is the former, then you can surely understand the fans' frustrations as they're the ones essentially funding the debt and paying for the investment the Glazers claim to be making.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hernandez has already scored more goals for United in a single season (20) than Tevez ever did in a season. (19) Not resigning Tevez was no big loss, especially with the amount of coddling he needs.

    Ronaldo took three seasons to settle in at United and okay so its Nani's fourth but he is finally showing he is worth the money. 9 goals, 14 assists and the most creative player United had this season.

  • Comment number 44.

    I suspect that the manufacturers/sellers of the green/yellow scarves etc are rubbing their hands with glee! They are a lot wealthier than they once were.

  • Comment number 45.

    re 44. And wouldn't it be funny if the Glazers were behind this enterprise?

  • Comment number 46.

    Clearly having this amount of debt hanging over the club must be worrying (although isn't it with a holding company, not MU itself?) but I just don't get some of the stuff being said on here - saddling a club with that much debt is a risk, but so are most things in football, look at the Torres transfer to boost Chelsea.....

    The net transfer spend table for a start has the Ronaldo anomaly - £70m profit "slightly" distorts the numbers (if you take this net figure out Man U are 4th in the table of net spending). On this basis if Chelsea sold Lampard for £80m then suddenly Abramovic is a stingy so and so? 6 of the 10 most expensive players Man U have bought have been under the Glaziers reign - does this mean they are big money spenders?

    Fergie has always had the same transfer policy approach and continually bemoans the inflated prices for players so he clearly isn't willing to pay unless he really has to so to blame the Glaziers is a bit harsh. Oh, and the Man U fans bemoan lack of depth but who sold the Rossi the Italian international striker, Pique the Spanish world cup winning centre-back and League Cup winning goalkeeper Foster - the Glaziers?

    I'm sure the ticket price rises are actually slightly less than the Premier League average as well!?

  • Comment number 47.

    @ 27 - The Realist

    "Back in March the BBC columnists were saying that Man Utd were now down to about £350M in debt, so which is it? £489M or about £350M?"

    Well, both statements are true. United have a total debt of £489M however they actually have around £130M in the bank so their NET liability is around £350M.

    I relation to the article I don't think anyone likes the Glazers from a Manchster United perspective. Basically, there are some fans who hate them and there are some fans who are indifferent to them based on results. I can imagine investment is coming in the summer but Ferguson will try and do deals that are sustainable for the club.

    You see, Manchester United don't want to fall into a trap where Sneijder will cost £80M in transfer fee / salary and then be unable to play in European competition from 2013... Manchester City and Chelsea on the other hand...

  • Comment number 48.

    They have doubled ticket prices and are not re-investing this money back into the squad. Instead they are using it to pay off the debts incurred by them buying the club despite not having the money to do so.

    You ask in this blog whether they deserve some praise, well you have it from me, thank you for making me pay twice the price to see a lower quality side then we have had in years.

  • Comment number 49.

    Wouldn't it be funny if the Glazers were behind the business which makes/sells the green/yellow scarves etc?

  • Comment number 50.

    I can't understand why these all ludicurous comments are made. At the end of the day, for the past six years since the glazers' takeover, Manchester United has won the titles and competed well even when they didnt win. I think that was all because of Sir Alex and how he managed. Discussing who we sold and who we bought would lead to nowhere. To all my beloved MANCHESTER UNITED FANS, I would request to have faith, and we have every good reason for that, in Sir Alex and Manchester United overall. We have done it the past, we are doing it, we will do it again and again, WINNING THE TITLES AND SILVERWARE. God bless Sir Alex and Manchester united and all my beloved Mancherter United fans

  • Comment number 51.

    @ 40, Vox Populi,

    SAF admitted recently that Javier Hernandez was expected to get used to the English football this season, strengthening in status slowly and that it was a surprise to everyone the way Javier fitted in the first team, right away. His statement can only indicate that Hernandez was bought for the seasons after the current one - something like another Welbeck.

    Smalling was playing God knows where 2-3 years back. He was acquired as an understudy in central defense and also proved to be a golden alternative, on many occasions, when the chips were on a burning pan, for United.

    In both cases, what was fluke was the fact that they shone right away. Do you disagree?

    I don't understand how you came to the conclusion that I was talking about only 'big price tag' players. Every successful club buys key players for big money when they can't find them and also players for the future. The thing, though, is United have Giggs and Scholes still playing and you don't replace such players, wanting to compete in the world's best football stages, with minnows for the future.

    Perhaps you were confused because you made assumptions. It is not every day that you can find a Schmeichel and a Solskjaer and it's good luck when you find them. But when you need a Roy Keane or a Sneijder (to make it clearer) to come and take command in midfield, you pay the cash the revenues bring to the club - that's what I was saying.

    I agree with you that, when the players you want are not available or prefer to move somewhere else, there is nothing much you can do about it and you neither buy someone just for the sake of it. Last season, there weren't many quality players who wanted to come to England and, those who wanted, wanted crazy wages.

    This summer is different though. Sneijder wants to move. Ashley Cole wants to move. Henderson might move, as Sunderland need to buy strikers. There are players. All we can do is wait and see what players will come at United because the need for reinforcements is blatant.

    I never assumed SAF is lying. What I said is that he wouldn't talk against the Glazers before retirement because it's important to him (and to the club) that he's there to win as many trophies as he can for Manchester United and this affects what language he uses when he talks about the owners.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have to agree with some of the posts from MU fans, a club doesn't have to spend mega bucks every summer on high profile players (just ask Chelsea fans whether Torres' £50M is value for money!) the important thing is that whoever you buy is good enough, irrespective of cost.

    So, it looks as though Utd's success has got nothing to do with the Glazers debt, they were successful before the Glazers arrived, the only concern is whether they will be successful when the inevitable happens and SAF retires!

    As a Liverpool fan I remember what happened prior to Dalglish leaving 20 years ago, lots of mediocre players being bought for then stupid money who were never ever good enough to play for us, then success stalls and the big money transfers become a dim and distant memory, the rebuilding process is a long one with small pockets of success along the way.

  • Comment number 53.

    oh Dan you do love a myth, just like Ian Prior and Andy Green. None of you have risked a penny yet you are full of advice on how to do it. If Ian and Andy were intellectually honest and consistent they would be suggesting such faith should be rewarded with free seats. No one made them support Manchester United, they made that choice and they still have a choice to not support if they dislike the price. However since they risk nothing they have no right to tell the Glazers how to run Man. U.. If they don't like how the Glazers are doing it, buy em out and then lower fan seat prices. They will be demanding the government to bail them out in no time, with them it is always somebody elses fault that they dont have the resources to satisfy their non essential needs. They need to grow up. Go Man U.

  • Comment number 54.

    United fans basically expect 30 million signings every summer. Hard life.

  • Comment number 55.

    For the vast majority of Green and Gold supporters, success is utterly irrelevant, so it says absolutely nothing.

    Ticket prices have absolutely rocketed over the last few years, and club spending has not. In short, United fans are paying through the nose for nothing other than interest repayments... or, to be more accurate, they're having to give up supporting the club they love, to be replaced with those who can afford it and empty seats.

    So that's a whole lot of pain, and absolutely no gain. Precisely what everybody knew would happen when the Glazers took over.

  • Comment number 56.

    Excellent article [applauds]

    For a while, as a frequent user of 606 (SAVE 606!!), I've been trying to say to the United WUMs that there are a lot of cracks and blackholes in United's finances. Whilst United are far from being dissolved, a point I always use is 'how much have the Glazers spent in transfers; to the scale of the Ferdinands and the Van Nistelrooys of the past?'. Sure, some can point to Berbatov's bank-breaking transfer, others to the inclusion of Carrick, yet the point is a lot more money has been coming in than going out. I always felt the Berbatov deal was to pacify United fans into believing that the high money/profile signings will continue, yet such signings have dried up in a time where people in the extreme twilight of their career (VDS, Giggs, Scholes), and pre-Glazer signings (Ferdinand, Rooney & Ronaldo) were holding the boat together. With so many important first XI players reaching the end of their careers, or twilight years in the sense of Park, Evra, Vidic, where is the money to replace such high quality players coming from?

    Most retort and point to the supposed £156m in the bank as funds enough to see United through, but I estimate that Nani, Rooney and Hernandez aside, at least 8 top class players are needed to replace the top class stars faltering in age. Fergie may be a genius at getting extra miles out of an empty tank, yet his retirement, which must surely be at least 12 months away, can United spend to the tune of £156m on new players, and integrate them in time for SAF to steer them through? Can he blend those players? Are the players going to be good enough? Will his rivals (Chelsea aside, as they are in less trouble playing staff and investment wise) City (with money aplenty), Arsenal and Liverpool still remain as ineffective to challenge United dominance? I'd say Chelsea are about to enter a transitional phase, Arsenal clearly need some investment in leaders, Liverpool are well in the midst of their transitional period and look to improve under KK. And as for City? Well, if CL football is a certainty, then a ridiculous amount of players at ridiculous prices should enter the blue half of Manchester, also inflating transfer fees to Andy Carroll's preposterous scales. Can United afford a Wesley Sniejder, whose fee will most likely be inflated from £30m to £50m, in the silly money markets? Can United maintain their successes whilst blending in Fergie's last 'great' team and keeping ahead of an extremely competitive PL? I personally don't think so, and as Liverpool have proved over the last few years, losing CL football saw the owners tying up the purse strings. They got rescued, but will United be so lucky? Worrying times ahead at OT I'd say.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    18. At 12:38pm 4th May 2011, Newcastle_Mk wrote:
    Who cares, i would love to see Untied fall down!!

    Have no money to spend on new players once the likes of Giggs, Scholes, VDS go! struggle to find a decent manager to replace Sir Alex!

    Then because they cant lure the top names into Old Trafford, find them selves chasing the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal and even City. then these so called United fans (half not from Manchester) not bother going to watch because they want to glory hunt another team.

    what a beautiful sight that would be to see Old Trafford half empty with Boo and jeers ringing out as they sit mid table!

    Another bitter Mag, still smarting from Eric humping you lot in your own back yard in 96 eh.

    Best fans in the world, and all they ever shout about is how they are the best fans in the world, and how much they hate Man United (they sometimes mention Sunderland too).

  • Comment number 59.

    54. At 14:52pm 4th May 2011, Wengers_New_Clothes wrote:
    United fans basically expect 30 million signings every summer. Hard life.


    That'd be one hell of a wage bill, but we'd benefit from incredible strength in depth!

  • Comment number 60.

    Persoanlly I don't think the Glazers have contributed much positive. It's fair to say that united have enjoyed some success since their takeover, but United would most likely be in better shape all round had the Glazers not come along & saddled the club with debt.

  • Comment number 61.

    A couple of points that need raising...

    Regarding the lowering of ticket prices for the Tampa Bay Bucs. American football is, financially, nowhere near as dependant on gate receipts as it is TV advertising revenue. A factor that few realise is that if a franchise fails to sell out their stadium for a particular game, then the game is NOT televised locally. It actually makes more financial sense for tickets for a game to be given away, and generate zero gate revenue, than lose out on the more lucrative TV advertising cash.

    What the Glazer family might or might not be doing with their US sports operations bears little relation to what their experiences in the UK have taught them. Just look at Hicks and Gilette at Liverpool. They expected to make a massive profit on a club where they invested little of their own money, beyond paying off external financial costs, because everything they thought they knew from their US sports dealing told them buying a club, milking it for a few years, then selling it on to the next group, is a sure fire money-maker. Wether the Fenway Group has learned that lesson remains to be seen. Ask Sir Kenny in August after he's had a chance to spend the promises.

    The Green and Yellow campaign... another case of smoke and mirrors, to be honest. Anyone who saw the first home crowd at Old Trafford this season, and looked at how many of those scarf wearers had also purchased this season's "AON" sponsored shirts must have wondered how many of those "fans" knew what they were wearing. To be buying a new shirt, and contributing money to owners you're also decalring a dislike of, by wearing colours that are supposed to be indicative of your dislike... it just looks like the guilty parties are either hypocrits, or simply clueless.

    And as for Ferguson as a manager... this season, we've had more than one or two examples of why he's been as successful as he has... and more than a few examples of why some people consider him a fraud. Tactically, he's made some notable mistakes, most recently at the Emirates. His behaviour, on the sidelines and in front of the cameras, has been vintage Ferguson, with implications of biased officials, pointed refusals to speak to the BBC all season long, and the usual berating of the Fourth Official, knowing the Referee on the pitch can overhear his comments over the mic.

  • Comment number 62.

    Dan - You have to realise that there was a 'residual group' of shareholders of the previous Man United plc who did not want to sell out, first of all to Rupert Murdoch and latterly to the Glazer family. Most of these shareholders held their shares not so much for their monetary value, but also for their intrinsic value, which allowed them to feel they had a stake in the clubs future. This group (the founders of MUST) did try to 'stand firm' against the privatisation of the club under the Glazers, but were in the end forced to sell, or they lost their investment. Since then there has been a campaign of hatred towards the Glazers, promoted mainly by those who lost out; they have tried to force the Glazers out by various ploys, some of which the gullible amongst the United faithful fell for originally, (G&G campaign etc). However unfortunately for this groups aims of ousting the Glazers United have continued to enjoy success and hence eventually common sense has started to prevail and this season the focus has been on the pitch at OT, rather than in the Boardroom. United is a 'business deal' for the Glazers, they know that the best thing for the club is success on the pitch and they leave that in the capable hands of SAF. The moment the Glazers put any pressure on SAF, or refuse him a request to buy a player, we will all know about it, but the Glazers are much too 'canny' for that!

  • Comment number 63.

    lol at the guy that said 8 top class players needed. Have you not seen Rafael and Fabio? Or Evans and Smalling? Even Pogba and Morrison are lighting up the reserves (who have been just crowned champions).

    Everyone forgets about the financial fair play rules. When they come in City will be in a heap of trouble. Their wage bill at the moment is 107% of their turnover!! And I'm pretty sure the 3 year monitoring period starts this summer? I may be wrong but it's either this summer or next. Barcelona are another team whose debt is MOUNTING. United's debt is now in terminal decline, and think if commercial revenue ALONE is enough to cover 1/5 of the debt United are in, the £489m is not that much when put into context as to how much the club earns per year. For all the criticism of the Glazers, they have increased revenues massively thanks to their innovative business plan. I personally believe the Glazers are good for United and will continue to be for a long time yet

  • Comment number 64.

    There are a few problems with the position MUST, Bones and Green take on this topic. For example, claiming that arguably the most successful period in the club's history could've been even better but for the owners just makes you look like an idiot. Somehow suggesting that the vast amounts of cash creamed off by the banks would've ever been used to halve ticket prices just makes you look like an idiot as well. Ticket prices are too high, but so are the player's wages and so are transfer fees - which by the way makes these people look even more idiotic when they whine about how United are "only" spending £6m on a striker, which brings me on to Bones..... claiming that the transfer policy is shown up by the fact that United didn't immediately spend the £80m they got for Ronaldo just makes you look like an idiot too. That is not how you build a squad and it is not how you run a team. Which brings me on to SAF: The idea that the Glazers have been "lucky" to have had SAF as the boss since 2005 is also idiotic - he was the manager of the club at the time of the takeover, it was hardly a secret that the team they were buying, albeit with other people's money, had a fantastic manager already in situ was it?

    On the subject of SAF, you also have to laugh at the constant talk of the impending threat posed by his eventual retirement. Yeah, because if it wasn't for the Glazers that particular transition was always likely to run like clockwork wasn't it.

  • Comment number 65.

    Until MUFC end of in a situation like us(LFC), the reality will only hit their fanbase the club is in serious trouble. One season of no CL football would turn MUFC upside down.

    As for the net spend argument, I thought that didn't matter when it came to certain managers. The hypocrisy is unbelievable, the fact is Ferguson spent the money he spent but the club without doubt serviced their debt with the sale of Ronaldo. I honestly wouldn't be suprised if another big name will leave this summer for the ridiculous money Ronaldo went for. That is the life and times of a football club who are on a road to financial disaster. When Ferguson's transfer budget is pulled it is time to majorily concerned if you are a MUFC supporter.

  • Comment number 66.

    Lol @ 63

    Are you honestly trying to tell me that Johnny 'defensively static, can't pass a ball for mustard' Evans and the terrible twins, Rafael and Fabio are top class players? Smalling, fair enough, he looks like he can develop into something very good. Who are Pogba and Morrison? Are they getting as much match player as the Robinsons & Flanagans at Liverpool lately? And I won't accept United have a great Youth team. Aside from a lucky crop in the mid-90s, name me one world class player to emerge since the millennium? Pique perhaps? That Barca youth product who had a few ineffective years at OT? And what youth championship? Didn't United finish 5th in group C, yet they are still admittedly in the youth FA cup?

    I was thinking of adding the point about the FFPR; that it kicks into effect for the 2012/13 season, with clubs being excluded from European competitions if they don't balance the books in time for 12/13. Chelsea and City WILL spend huge this summer, it's their last chance to before they'll be affected by the FFPR; hence why I can see a ridiculous amount of players coming and going from those clubs. They both possess enough top quality players in those squads too, so they'll be able to generate some counter-balancing income to their outgoings.

    Perhaps United have timed their investments for this summer alone. Sure, with their high generated income, they will one day (if debts are cleared, mind) be right back on top of the transfer investment market, a small matter of £489m in the red to sort out first though...

    The Glazers may have raised United's profile in the States, but that's nowhere near the Asian income which was already established prior to their arrival. Sorry to say, but those Glazer boys smell a bit Hicks & Gilette to me, and they know that on as they spend their time chilling on an £80m yacht they bought a couple of years back...

  • Comment number 67.

    @ 61, Rob Smiley,

    Yeah, we've learnt it, this season in particular, how knowledgeable Liverpool fans are.
    Of course, King, Sir, whatever Kenny is a very good manager who, in the past, tried but failed against SAF but, yes, SAF made many mistakes in the Arsenal game.

    Of course, you must be iunclear on how you put priority on different tasks, simultaneously, as mighty Liverpool play one game a week. Here it's Old Trafford, though and, you know, you'll be entertained tonight on a Champions League semi final, while the Chelsea game is at Old Trafford, on Sunday.

    To make things simple to you, just don't watch football tomorrow: Braga play.

  • Comment number 68.

    Tricky one, really. Ultimately the Glazers financial model hasn't adversely affected the football side - three Champions League finals in four years (probably) shows that (unless the quality across all of Europe has dropped).

    However, the fact that so much money now leaves the club in interest payments which could have been spent on infrastructure, players, or merely saved up for just in case United fail to qualify for the latter stages of the CL (or even the CL itself) has to be a worry for United fans. This close season is key as Scholes, Giggs and VDS HAVE to be replaced, and SAF probably need another centre half to cover Vidic/Ferdinand. If the Glazers can't find the money to buy a big name, they'll have to hope that the medium name they get in does what Hernandez has done and hit the ground running. If not, the quality may drop a notch and then questions will be asked. Whilever United are winning, then the Glazers CAN take this money out of the club and nobody can really question it......

  • Comment number 69.

    The mere headline makes my blood boil.
    Ignore the fact's and you can create any myth..and I've a sneaking feeling this is the start of a whopper. Ignore the £70m Utd had in the bank,ignore the S/T waiting list which has long gone,the sold out 6wks in advance signs that used to feature in the club website,the selling of tickets the day before a game that is now a regular occurance,the £13m net Fergie has spent in 6yrs,the 16,000 this season,12,000 last and the 6,000 S/T holders who have left the club in the last 3yrs,the empty seats of fans who have had enough at some games....I could go on,the fact's are plentiful.
    The obvious fact's are....that only Fergie has kept the club in the position these last 6yrs,a genius and the glazer's have been very fortunate. Without him and the glazers would be looking at complete disaster.
    The 30% reduction of tickets in Tampa Buccs will not be mirrored at Old Trafford,the best we can hope for is a freeze. In the meantime these parasites will continue to take their annual £70-£90m out of the club and Utd will thrive until Fergie calls time....that is when the real fun will begin.
    My 41yrs active support ceased in 2009 and like thousands of other long term ex Reds....that is the real legacy of the glazer era!

  • Comment number 70.

    to all the liverpudians, gooners and chelskis, just cut the crap. This article demonstrates the accomplishment of Sir Alex on how to manage a club without compromising on the titles and the silverware. despite the economic slowdown and bonkers transfer activities, he has maintained the momentum and continued to win the titles. Glory Manchester United!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 71.


    Did you on start supporting United when they actually won the League?

    "whatever Kenny is a very good manager who, in the past, tried but failed against SAF"

    Tell me what Ferguson won at OT while Dalglish was manager at Liverpool the last time....bit of an education for you. Dalglish won 3 League titles and 2 FA Cups as manager while Ferguson won an FA Cup(as Dalglish resigned the February 91 the year Ferguson won the Cup Winners Cup) - at the time Liverpool were top of the table on course to win their 19th League title but stress of the previous two years tooks it toll on the man who took too much on with Hillsborough.

  • Comment number 72.


    It is a legacy of the problems of modern day football that the Premier League let leveraged buyout tycoons from America takeover two of world football's biggest clubs and almost run one in the ground, Utd are heading down that same road.

  • Comment number 73.

    While 3 CL finals in 4 seasons will be seen as a great achievement by United it needs to be put into context, all of the big clubs (with the exception of UEFA head boys Barcelona and of course United) have been very inconsistent during that period and although we've seen four different winners in the past four seasons the CL is not as competative now as it was a decade ago. Hopefully major summer recruitment drives at Man City, Milan and Real Madrid will make next seasons competition more entertaining.

    Good luck to United tonight and in the final (if they get past Schalke).

  • Comment number 74.

    In retort #70, this article demonstrates how lucky Fergie was to have such a good spine to the team prior to the Glazer's arrival, and how only around 50% of his post Glazer signings have just made the grade:

    Michael Carrick
    Nemanja Vidić
    Patrice Evra
    Park Ji-Sung
    Edwin van der Sar

    10 players in 6 years, of which Nani, Valencia, Hernandez and Smalling could be seen to last up to another 10 years. He has done very well and, as much as I detest the man, SAF is undeniably one of the greatest managers to ever manage in the game. He goes, where will you be? Will Mourinho want to hang around with no transfer kitty? Unlikely IMO.

    You can argue that Liverpool live in the past, but we are building for the future and are well ahead of United in breathing in the next phase of Anfield superstars. Have United already begun, pinning all their hope of Rooney, Hernandez and Smalling; or are United fans revelling in their current glories too much to notice a major overhaul in club fortune as much as the squad and manager is merely a season or two away...

  • Comment number 75.

    Although totally against the Glazers at first they do seem to be getting their act together, as the debt is currently going in the right direction and revenue streams have increased. So as long as this is the case, I am happy for them to be in charge. That is providing that whatever Fergie asks for he is permitted to have, as United's success must not be limited by how much he is allowed to spend. In addition the financial fair play rules that are soon to be in effect will hopefully hurt Chelsea and City as much as they should. As they are living far beyond their means, although Chelsea's problems could be solved by simple moving stadium.

    And if they don't behave as they should, I don't think United are short of potential buyers. Wasn't it not so long ago the Qatar royal family were interested?

  • Comment number 76.

    im a man utd fan and a realist, if man utd reach the final of cl then we do need a miracle to win, if we dont the blame goes to carrick and fringe players and please sell berva, and we do need a big investment or we fall behind cheslea and barcelona, we ned tgo spend atleast 90 million snijder modric and alexis sanchez and a keeper or it'll he hard for man utd to win any big competitions

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 71, 5ForKeeps,

    a) I started supporting Manchester United much earlier than when they started winning everything but it is irrelevant and also non of your business.
    b) your king sir kenny was a manager somewhere else after poor liverpool - except if you have selective memory - it's usual there at Liverpool.
    c) don't refer to dalglish's numbers of trophies won when you attempt comparisons with SAF - can't you see it's embarrassing?
    d) I like that '19th title' thing. It makes me smile for some reason.
    e) Have a beautiful day, stress free as you can.

  • Comment number 78.

    I am not aware of all the details concerning the Glazer affair but I am full of praise for the current Man U team. Having followed Man U's football since 1998, I can say that this team is nowhere nearly as flowing or graceful or charismatic as the teams of the past yet still for all they are able to churn out the results which brings great praise out of me. This is certainly due to efforts and guidance of Sir Alex and the players. Hernandez, Nani, da silva brothers and smalling have impressed me this season. Rooney seems to be on the way to his best form. Giggs has left me confounded and astonished. Comparing the 1990's and this season he seems to be in better form and fitness and not to mention more clever. Scholes contributes immensely and Vander sar is a legend to me. Had Sir Alex had the fullest financial backing to get all the players he wants from God knows where, we would not have to struggle so much and would have claimed the title weeks back(considering the forms of the other teams) and won the FA Cup. So my hope is that Sir Alex gets the Financial package to get the players to replace the current veterans and also the empty spaces left by Ronaldo and tevez.

  • Comment number 79.

    In addition to my post at 16-02.
    I apologise. Stated that a price freeze was the best Utd could hope for...just been informed via M.E.N website that prices have gone up £ per game.
    I'm not a mathematical genius but I estimate that prices have now risen 67% in 6yrs under the glazers.
    Cash cow indeed.

  • Comment number 80.

    The comparison this fella is trying to present between LFC and MUFC is very simplistic. Now that LFC have been taken over again, and this time by an ownership that is not in conflict with either itself or with the people who run the football side of things at the club, he will probably come to learn a new position to adopt on the subject.

    Incidentally, just re-reading the conclusion in the blog about Barcelona moving ahead of United since 2009, actually it is United who now top the Uefa co-efficient table. This fact is a glaring omission from the picture the blog has apparently somewhat grudgingly taken to present a balanced view of the current situation. The blogger also slips Mascherano off the tongue in the same breath as Villa as examples of Barcelona's relative progression, which made me smile. No mention either of Ibrahimovic or of the fact Tevez was only ever on loan at Manchester United. Or that Berbatov is the Premiership's top scorer this season, that Rooney had his best ever goalscoring season last time round, or that Hernandez is a far better partner for both of them than Tevez ever was. Still, United have supposedly gone backwards, so not surprising these points weren't given the time of day in such a balanced blog.

  • Comment number 81.

    I dont think United need to spend £80m on Snejder, but they do need a creative midfielder. Palermo's Javier Pastore and Josep Ilicic are both excellent and have heaps of potential, while the new is Fergie likes Shakhtar's Douglas Costa. Phil Jones and Manny Neuer on top of that, United have spent perhaps £50-60m and have 3 excellent players. The only player worth £80m is Messi.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 12:05pm 4th May 2011, goodwill_the_blue wrote:
    remind me, what exactly have they won in the last two seasons ?

    "Last 2 seasons" obviously means 08/09 and 09/10 as 10/11 is not yet finished.

    Anyways to refresh your memory we've won 08/09 Premier League, 08/09 and 09/10 League Cup, 2008 and 2010 Comunity Shield.

    Do not try to undermind success, foolish.

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 74, markyhamps75,

    Banter aside, I would like to see Liverpool competing again for trophies. It improves the Premiership's quality.

    I find it hard to understand how easily you forget that Liverpool have a key problem: they need a stadium and it appears that this owner also is not much interested in giving it to you.

    Liverpool's youth looks hopeful and I'm pleased for seeing young local kids being successful at your club again. Yet, currently this is only promise and to know how good they are, you have to test them in the big footballing arenas. Plus, continuity is never granted and that's where the big stadium requirements come in order to let the club compete on a sound base. At the moment, Liverpool are all about rumours.

  • Comment number 84.

    Liverpool's future success depends on the amount that their new owners are prepared to spend in summer. As the team still has great frailties, especially in depth of the defense. I also agree with Football_UK that your greatest weakness is your stadium size, as 45,000 is far too small for a club the size of Liverpool, and so the owners must decide which is more important for their long term investment, new players or a new stadium as I don't believe they have the resources to accomplish both. Overall, the summer transfer window should be very interesting with all of the top clubs needing to strengthen, more than usual.

  • Comment number 85.

    the glazers are simply leeches and are holding united back. sure, united have had some success, though not as much as they would have had with a couple of midfielders and a striker last year - when they should have won the league and been in another cl final. if chelsea, city or arsenal could get have got their act together this season, you'd hear a lot more bleating. a falling piano doesn't hurt. keanos boot can't even feel the change in air pressure.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think it's misleading to talk about replacements for Giggs, Scholes, Ferdinand, and Van der Sar. Ferdinand has been out for much of the season and we've already clearly identified Smalling as a viable replacement.

    Many United fans seem to confuse Ferguson's not buying high priced stars with Ferguson not having money on offer. This is ridiculous - United have long been willing to compete ruthlessly in the transfer market. But Ferguson clearly prefers buying younger players. In fact, the Scholes and Giggs replacements happened seasons ago, with Anderson and Nani clearly being the purchases intended to replace them. Anderson has thus far been a rare disappointment, and perhaps we'll see Sneijder as a result, but if we do, we should keep in mind that this will be a rare instance of United buying an established star. By and large, United's stars have been ones they bought young and groomed.

  • Comment number 87.

    PhilSandifer...I agree...

  • Comment number 88.

    Why is this point brought up every other month and specifiaclly towards the end of the season?! At the end of the day Utd are continuing to be successful and whether you like the Glazers or not I was brought up to support the CLUB! The fact that people are moaning that ticket prices are going up is ridiculous bearing in mind EVERY OTHER THING IN THE WORLD is also going up in price! Do we really think that if Martin Edwards and Co. still had the club then we would be paying £20 a ticket, spending £150 million a season on players like other top clubs and that we would have got that extra 1 maybe 2 titles?

    As a former pro we learnt to concentrate on the game and beat what's in front of you. Utd are top of the league and have ONE foot in another CL final. As has been pointed out, we've spent quite a bit since the Glazers took over but because we haven't made the "dream" signing then all is doom and gloom!! Hernandez £6m.... Torres £50m... Ermm??? Decisions??

    Oh and as far as the just in it for the money argument, if that were the case, would we not have been sold YET again to the Quatari Royal family or even The Red Knoghts??

  • Comment number 89.

    I have to say unlike CAshley at Newcastle the Glaziers do let Ferguson run the show.

    That said a few weeks ago united were a dead cert for the title now it looks like they could be pipped to the post by Chelsea. But if united win can the fans really complain?

    Tonights game is big and may lead to a disappointment on Sunday - but at least they have a decent excuse this time.

    I have to say its nice to see so much Norwich support at Old Trafford these days - maybe they need to change colours for next season though. Delia might get the wrong idea.

  • Comment number 90.

    And it's a welcome return for the stock "if we had had x player last season we'd have won the league" together with this season's fave "if the others weren't all rubbish" mantra.

    We'd be on the verge of a 4th successive champions league final if it wasn't for the owners. As it is we'll just have to settle for being on the verge of a 3rd in 4 seasons.

    Never mind 19 in total, but for not buying two midfielders every season United would now be on the verge of their 19th successive title under SAF. Oh if only we were any good.

  • Comment number 91.

    United are like that nearly empty tube of toothpaste you thought would be done ages ago but you just keep squeezing that little bit more out before you buy a new one. Very little investment over the past few years, haven't convincingly addressed their midfield gaps, no particularly good young players coming through yet they are still on top. This is in contrast to their main rivals who have invested heavily into players and youth set-ups and only Chelsea so far have been able to keep up (just). You can thank Fergie, but Ronaldo and now Rooney have played a big part, like them or not they are those special type of players that the rivals seem to lack and Man United always seems to have one or two of these. They're really getting a lot of mileage of Giggs character too.

  • Comment number 92.

    as much as it hurts me to say this as a Liverpool fan, Man Utd are currently the best team in the land due to a combination of an excellent, if rather arrogant, manager, some true quality players bought for vast or low fees (VDS was on par with the Cantona signing maybe the young mexican will be there soon) and the most true business in football. Everyone is trying to copy them and immation is best form of compliment to me. Liverpool are copying the model to the letter at the mo. The problem will come is when the Giggs and scholes replacements are found, if possible in Giggs case, and same can be said for the manager.
    a word of caution over the debt though we thought that it would never happen to us but last October we nearly went into adminstration as the banks wanted their money back. eventually the banks will want more if not all back from United, so how will that be paid. We were only sold to Fenway because the price was too good to refuse. Are the Glazers willing to sell the club that is worth much more than their NFL team and seems to give ready cash flow to support their falling shopping malls? I'm reading the Brian Reade book and it is scary what was done to us. I truely hope that United do not have to go through it. Like us you have a great tradition to uphold

  • Comment number 93.

    at least Utd and Liverpool will be alright under the fair play rules. pity UEFA will have to bend them for the 2 spanish giants. Barca are £364 million in debt and Real over £250 million according to some reports but the no one who has the debt whereas UTd is well documented and ours has been written off

  • Comment number 94.

    In my opinion, Fergie has worked wonders with a pretty average squad this season (by United standards), and this summer should signal significant changes.

    On top of VDS the likes of Brown, Kuszack, Owen, Obertan, Scholes, Hargreaves will surely leave, and i'm not so sure about the futures of Berbatov and Anderson.

    Aside from a keeper, the priority is a Scholes replacement, a creative midfielder who can score goals. Valencia isn't good enough to be a regular starter, and Giggs can't play left wing week in week out, so a winger would also be useful. If Berbatov leaves and Welbeck is sold, another striker will be needed, and we could do with another CB.

    Neuer, Sneijder, Cristian Eriksen and Falcao would be my choices... at 25, 26, 18 and 23 respectively their best years are ahead of them. However, finances dictate that we can probably only afford one of these stars.

    In my opinion, Fergie will purchase just one big name player aside from a keeper, and then rely on the likes of Welbeck, Cleverley, perhaps Pogba and King from the youth setup to fill the voids

  • Comment number 95.

    @69 Here, here

    My last game as a ST holder for 12 years was the CL 1/4 final last year.

    In the final minutes when VDS was rushing to get a kick up field an Irish bloke next to me said "why is he rushing we're in the lead in the tie"

    I nearly punched him.

    I waited til the final whistle and walked out never to return.

    Whatever happened to the guys that used to sit next to me? Dunno they disappeared to be replaced by a different tourist every week. And why?

    ST holders won;t go and buy merch every week, whereas a day tripper will!

    80,000 fans and OT's atmospher is worse than when it was half that.

  • Comment number 96.

    What the anti-Glazer set need to remember is that if it wasn't the Glazers, it would have been someone else. The assumption seems to be that the Glazers prevented some nameless person who lives on a lake of oil on an island of gold from buying United. Naive, stupid, and in any case, the numbers just don't bear it out.

    Far more likely you'd have been bought by a single, pair or consortium of boobs on the scale of Hicks and Gilette. Or the entire Icelandic Banking Community.

    The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence, and if it is, it's because the septic is leaking.

  • Comment number 97.

    football doesn't need the glazers or any oligarch, oilman or dictator. it only needs the fans. which is all it would have if fifa or the fa had any balls. clubs could then spend what they could earn, subject to sensible financial restrictions. of course, there wouldn't be any kickbacks either.

  • Comment number 98.

    Let's review:

    Arsenal : All promise and potential but no end product. Need to spend big this summer in order to win anything.

    Man U : Many top players on the brink of retirement. Need to spend big this summer to replace, and keep competing.

    Chelsea : Spine of the team is getting old, next year is their last chance at a CL before a major rebuild. Need to spend big this summer before it's too late.

    Man C : Spent 100's of millions and 4th place is a success. Need to spend big this summer to have successful first year in CL.

    Spurs : Fantastic year in the CL, but no Europe at all next year (most likely) so there's fear they won't be able to keep their big stars, unless they retain 4th next year. Need to spend big this summer to get back in CL.

    Liverpool : The future is bright but have a long way to go before being a top 4 team again. Need to spend big this summer to continue the rebuild.

    Is it just me or is there a theme developing here? Are there enough top players out there for all these cubs to "spend big" in the summer? And won't it all just balance out if they all do?

    With a 7 point gap back to the 7th place side will this gap just keep growing? (we all know Everton don't have the money needed to strengthen), Maybe we're dawning on a new era of the "big six" instead of four.

    On a side note, what do people think of O'Neal to replace SAF not the Chosen One? Or after a year or two when said Chosen One moves on to the "next challenge"?

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 83, Glad you got the banter - not many do!

    I agree that we do need some sort of stadium upgrade, yet I think it's only a matter of time the builders come into Anfield and expand it to the desired 60,000. I did a lot of research on FSG when they came in, and what I found was enough to convince me that we are in safe hands. They had a similar approach to the Boston Red-sox when they bought them out in 2004. The cry was for a whole new stadium there; yet they saw that Fenway Park was a Baseball institution as Anfield is to football. They dismissed that idea and have revolutionized Fenway Park to a top notch sporting arena. One thing I caught after their take over was when John Henry said that Anfield was in better condition than they expected. In this instance, I think some relative success on the field will see vast improvements in the stadium around it. Anfield and Liverpool go as hand in glove in football legend as does OT & United; therefore part of the overall marketable image.

    Make no mistake, these aren't certainties, I know I'm theorizing; yet I can't help but believe, based on their achievements in Baseball, that we may be seeing a whole new Anfield within the next 5 years. I just hope we get some decent builders who weren't in any way involved with Wembley!

    Only when 'New Anfield' is in place, can we hope to compete as financially strong as United. In the meantime, we'll focus on our first XI and how well they're doing, and you focus on winning some trophies. May be the last few coming to OT for quite a while ;-)

  • Comment number 100.

    64 (+80). At 15:30pm 4th May 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    Candidate for post(s) of the day I reckon... finally someone with sense, well I never!

    I was going to comment on the blogs reference to Barca "overtaking" Man Utd but by the time I had written most of my post I had lost the will, besides no one ever comments on logical / sensible stuff.

    And as for the comments about "not keeping Tevez" - he didn't exactly score a hatful of goals while he was with us - yes he was useful but as Sir Alex said he was a try-er and it covered up for other things. He wasn't worth £35m and the only reason he has been banging them in for bitters is (just like them) is because he has a huge chip on his shoulder about not being good enough for us - match made in heaven.


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