For the first time since 2010, the anti-Glazer movement has begun to take shape again, with fans becoming frustrated with the lack of investment.
Under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson, who repeatedly worked miracles with our players, many fans have grown apathetic to the Glazer ownership. In the past eight years, United have won the title five times, meaning plenty of anger and frustration has been softened with success.
Last year, with United falling to 7th in he league, the Glazers were probably third on the list of accountability for a lot of supporters. Ed Woodward’s incompetence in the transfer market coupled with David Moyes’ inability to transfer his skills from managing Everton to United allowed too many people to be distracted from the real villain.
Now that United have a top manager in charge, the Glazers’ performance has drawn more attention, despite Woodward’s best efforts to cock up yet another transfer window.
It isn’t right that the anti-Glazer voices only speak up during moments of dissatisfaction, but it would be foolish to believe it could seriously be any other way. When your team is lifting the Premier League trophy most seasons, it’s unrealistic to expect anti-Glazer chants to be heard regularly. That is certainly worthy of criticism but then you would just be criticizing human nature.
However, Sky Sports, The Daily Mail and other news outlets have scoffed at our complaints, comparing our spending with other clubs over recent years, as well as our spending this year compared with other years.
Having spent £72m this summer, on the surface, you could understand why people would be cynical about our frustration. However, they are totally missing the point.
League position last season
United finished 7th in the table in 2013-14. Every season since 1989-1990, United have finished in the top three. Whilst a better manager than David Moyes would have finished higher with that squad, it still should be recognised that our squad was on the decline at the start of Moyes’ reign.
Sir Alex Ferguson had just won the title with those players and he is a genius, but even he would have struggled for success last season. There were several key players who were a year further away from their peak, Michael Carrick, who had been shortlisted in the top six players for the PFA player of the year endured an awful season and Robin van Persie, the top scorer in the league for the previous two years running, was repeatedly injured. United’s squad was just not good enough to cope.
Bearing that in mind, United needed to strengthen last summer but all they did was overpay for Marouane Fellaini, it stands to reason then that United need significant investment this summer to even get to the standard they should have been last season. The problem is, other clubs have spent well again this summer, putting United even further behind.
Transfer spending of rivals
Whilst £72m is a lot of money, it is still less that what some of the teams who finished above United last season have spent this summer, and still in the same region as the others.
Liverpool have spent £89m, Chelsea £85m, Arsenal £66m and City have spent £52m.
The gap between United and these other teams was big enough already and now that gap is widening. What we had spent this summer wouldn’t have left us with a squad that could seriously compete with these clubs for the title before their spending, let alone after it.
Nemanja Vidic, the captain, Patrice Evra, the vice-captain, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Nani and Alexander Buttner have all left the club this summer. If United were simply aiming to maintain the squad size of last season, and not improve, we’d still need to buy six players. As it is, we’ve bought three.
Four defenders have left the club and two have been brought in. United have practically lost their back four and the only cover they had for left-back.
It’s not just the positions that are a worry, but the experience too. When you look at how many games Giggs, Vidic, Evra and Ferdinand had between them for United, playing at the very highest level, then it is a concern to see what relative novices have been brought in to replace them.
Luke Shaw (19), Ander Herrera (25) and Marcos Rojo (24) were all bought for their potential, rather than what they have already achieved. The lack of experience at the top level United now have in the squad is quite startling.
Manchester United are the most profitable club in England and one of the biggest earners in world sport.
United fans are right to expect that the money they invest in the club, in terms of tickets, shirts and other merchandise, should be spent to the benefit of the club. That doesn’t necessarily mean blowing other clubs out of the water, but at least matching the clubs they are competing with for honours.
As it is, when United fans collectively put millions in to the club, they are not seeing the benefit of that on the pitch. Clubs like City and Chelsea are in the red every season and that is not what United should be aspiring to, but United’s pot is much bigger than theirs, but we are lagging miles behind them when you look at the comparative spending over the past few years.
United’s maintenance of a world class squad has been poor. Whilst the likes of Van Persie and Juan Mata have shown some ambition in the market, the quality of the squad as a whole has been eroding ever since Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan and Michael Owen were brought in the summer that World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, was sold.
United have spent a total of £304m since that sale. 09/10 In this same period of time, City have spent £564m, Chelsea have spent £497m and Liverpool have spent £372m. Season by season, other teams have been strengthening their squad more than us.
For rival fans and media outlets to question the frustration of United fans just doesn’t make any sense. United finished 7th last season and the squad is arguably weaker this season, following the departures of more players than have arrived. For a club to be one “the most valuable sports franchise in the world” and be in that position is utterly ridiculous.