Yesterday, Gary Neville was critical of prospective new Leeds owner, Massimo Cellino, who has sacked the manager and was then the cause of protests by the fans outside Elland Road.
The word Neville used to describe Cellino was “imposter”. Whilst it’s admirable to see Neville speaking out on behalf of the fan, it is unsurprising that his comments caused quite a reaction amongst United fans.
The Glazers have taken £600m out of the club since plunging us in to unimaginable debt to buy United in the first place. £600m. People can point to the success United have had since 2005 and the players we have bought in that time, like Robin van Persie and Juan Mata, but any success we’ve had is in spite of them. When you consider how much we’ve won despite being massively outspent by clubs around us, in England and on the continent, imagine what we could have achieved if we had spent even a tiny fraction of that £600m on a few more world class players.
The Deloitte table revealed that United are the 4th most profitable club in the world, behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Over the past 5 years, Real Madrid have spent an average of £106m a season, Barcelona £61.3m a season and Bayern Munich £48.1m. For the sake of comparison, City have spent £106m a season, Chelsea £88.6m and Liverpool £58.4m. United have spent, on average, £47.2m a season. (Stats from TransferMarkt.com)
Out of interest, the £600m the Glazers have pocketed works out at £66m a year.
It’s not just our ex-players but our own fans who are apologists for the Glazers, who for some reason can’t admit that obviously the club would be better off if we weren’t saddled with debt. That doesn’t mean we would have to match the likes of Real Madrid, City or Chelsea for spending, but at least invest the money the club has generated to ensure that United remains competitive.
Over the past week or so I’ve seen United fans on Twitter defend the Glazers by pointing to the £37.1m they spent on Juan Mata. They? No, this is our money. Unlike City or Chelsea, the club is in a position to spend £37.1m on a player because our worldwide popularity puts us in a position to be very profitable.
Now, I don’t want to give Neville too much of a hard time. It stands to reason he can’t speak out. His brother works for the club and I imagine Gary is eyeing a future position for himself at United, which all our fans would welcome. Plus, any remark Gary made about the Glazers would probably be twisted and turned in to criticism of the club by the media.
Still, it would be better for people to say nothing at all than try and argue that the Glazers haven’t damaged our club. That United isn’t suffering because we have owners who have taken £600m of our money for themselves, instead of reinvesting it in to the squad.
After the AC Milan game in 2010 when the anti-Glazer protests reached a peak, David Beckham picked up a green and gold protest scarf as he walked off the pitch. The ground erupted. Finally, we had somebody of a huge profile who clearly loved the club endorsing our protest. I left Old Trafford buzzing that night.
Then I heard Beckham’s post-match interview, where he denied having any knowledge of what the scarf represented and distanced himself entirely from any anti-Glazer stance. “I’m a Manchester United fan and when I saw the scarf I wanted to put it round my neck,” he said. “It’s the old colours of United but, to be honest, it’s not my business. I’m a United fan and I support the club. I always will, but it’s got nothing to do with me how it’s run. That’s all to do with other people. I just support the team. I will always support the team.”
Maybe one day, when the Glazers have gone, we’ll get to hear their real opinion on them. But for now it should come as a surprise that we don’t hear our heroes criticising them.