By now I am sure many of you would have read about Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest rant in which he defended Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family. In his press conference, Fergie even went on to attack sections of the United fan base by claiming that those opposing the Glazer’s control over the club are not ‘real’ fans. Various journalists and bloggers have tried to make sense of the whole situation with many taking offence to Fergie’s attack, whilst others have agreed with his stance.
There have been dozens of articles showing all sorts of figures to prove just how badly the Glazer family have hampered Manchester United’s progress over the last 7 years whilst using words such as ‘IPO’ and ‘Bonds’, something which I don’t even want to pretend I understand. Now although I’m against the Glazer ownership, I’ve decided not to jump on the bandwagon and criticise Sir Alex for his comments. Instead, I feel its best that we try and make sense of what lead to him saying what he did.
The first theory put forward by many to try and explain Sir Alex’s attack is that he’s trying to promote the selling of season tickets at Old Trafford before the season starts. The logic behind this is that ‘if Fergie defends the Glazers and says we have money, then people would believe we’ll sign more players this transfer window ’. Yes, the idea that we’re still able to compete with City and Chelsea when it comes to paying hefty transfer fees and wages is one we’d all like to believe, however that might not necessarily encourage fans to buy season tickets. In fact, it could even have the exact opposite effect. If Fergie’s come out and verbally attacked large sections of the crowd, many would feel offended and be put off renewing their season tickets.
It’s then safe to assume that Alex wasn’t trying to encourage the sale of season tickets, so what was the idea behind his rant? If reports are believed, United are currently chasing various big-name talents across the globe, ranging from the likes of Lucas Moura to Robin Van Persie. If the manager was genuinely interested in signing these players, or any other top talent, it’s essential that the club is shown to be in good hands. How can a club where the manager is opposed to the club’s owner look like a promising attraction to anyone interested in joining the club? It isn’t, and so it’s a no-brainer that Fergie would defend the Glazer family. A club with a stable foundation is an attractive one, so even though our current state isn’t such, Sir Alex is still trying to make it look like that’s the case.
Another major issue here is that Sir Alex is fast approaching his 71st birthday and is undoubtedly in his last few seasons as a football manager. As such, he can’t afford to unsettle his squad as he plans one final assault before the end of his incredible career. We often forget just how big a task it is to sell a club, especially one the size of Manchester United. So if Sir Alex had come out and criticised the Glazers which in turn caused them to sell the club, the process of having them find new owners and carry out the paperwork could potentially end up dragging on for months, thus running into the start of the new season. As stated earlier, it’s essential that a club is built on a solid, stable foundation as this would stop the players from becoming distracted midway through the season. For obvious reasons, this is not something that Fergie would be willing to risk. I genuinely reckon that Sir Alex would have spoken up against the Glazer ownership a few years ago when he knew he still had a few more years in him but as of now, it’s too late to do anything about it.
You might then ask why Alex didn’t bring up the Glazer ownership a few years ago, but the answer is relatively straight forward. The club was still spending big until the 09/10 season. The likes of Nani, Anderson, Berbatov, Carrick and Tevez were all brought in before then for large sums of money. It was only post-Ronaldo that the full force of the ownership was felt where the money made from Cristiano’s sale wasn’t reinvested back into the team. Instead, only Antonio Valencia was brought in as a real notable signing.
Let’s forget about all that though and pretend Sir Alex had actually come out and attacked the Glazers. Do you really think the family would have sat back and let him get away with it? Of course he wouldn’t have. We forget that Sir Alex Ferguson, as legendary as he is, works for them. They’re his bosses. As far as we know, he could be risking his job should he even suggest that he’s against their ownership. Sir Alex has got three years left in him if not less, so it’s perfectly understandable that he’d prefer to play it safe and see out the remainder of his career in safe hands, and then maybe we’ll see him come out and tell it exactly how it is, once he has nothing to lose.
In fitting fashion, since The Dark Knight Rises has recently been released, I’d like to compare Sir Alex Ferguson to the caped hero himself! At the end of The Dark Knight, the quote: “Batman is the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a single guardian, a watchful protector. The Dark Knight” …seems to make a surprising amount of sense when you compare it to the situation Sir Alex has put himself into right now.
Think about it.