David Moyes’ abject reign as Manchester United has come to an end. It’s come a lot sooner than most of us had anticipated after he was awarded a six year contract ten months ago, making him ‘the chosen one’; the successor to the great Sir Alex Ferguson.
But with Moyes out the door, have the causes for United’s poor season been severed? Or are the problems at Old Trafford rooted far deeper than those that appear to the naked eye?
Since the latter stages of the 2009/10 season very little anti-Glazer sentiments have rung out around Old Trafford. However with this campaign bearing no fruit in the shape of silverware, will Manchester United voice their antipathy with their controversial owners once more?
Following their takeover in 2005, you can argue that the Glazers decision making, at least on the footballing side of things, has been almost minimal. The seemingly autocratic way in which Sir Alex Ferguson ran Manchester United masked the underspending for a club of United’s stature. United’s spending under the Glazer regime has been dwarfed by that of Manchester City and Chelsea and perhaps even more significantly, they have been outspent by Liverpool and Tottenham in that time period. Whilst many will point to the on field success enjoyed under the Glazer stewardship, in reality it is more a further indicator to the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson. Over time Ferguson developed a well-oiled machine that continued the success that is so engrained in the club, despite relatively small investment in comparison to the clubs revenue. Where as many Premier League clubs reinvest the profits they make, United’s financial outlay has been very different. A sum of over £696 million has been spent on interest fees, bank charges and debt repayment, whilst a comparatively modest investment of around £383 million has been shelled out on new players. So although the spending under the Glazers has hardly been frugal, it should have been so much more for a club of United’s stature. Perhaps the most confused myth also lies in that unlike Roman Abramovich and Sheihk Mansour, who invest large amounts of their own money, the Glazers have simply used the clubs financial coffers, with their own personal investment almost non-existent.
One of the most telling examples of the Glazer reluctance to indulge in lavish spending is what happened when Cristiano Ronaldo was sold in the summer of 2009. The Portuguese winger was United’s star asset and when he departed Old Trafford for Real Madrid for a then world record £80 million, many thought the money would be used for a world class replacement. The incoming transfers that summer represented nothing of the sort with Antonio Valencia, Michael Owen and Gabriel Obertan arriving at Old Trafford to fill the void.
Whilst Michael Owen possessed great Premier League experience and the other two were seen as potential wingers for the future, none were of the calibre Manchester United required to continue their period of sustained success which had seen them win three consecutive league titles. It is often said for a side to remain successful, they need to invest and strengthen when they are at their strongest and that summer United significantly weakened.
So what now for the moneymen inside Old Trafford? The signs are that the Glazer may finally be beginning to loosen the purse strings with the arrivals of Marouane Feillani and Juan Mata for a combined fee of almost £65 million, although the formers performances will not offer much demonstration that you can achieve value for your money. The Glazers will not find another manager like Ferguson, a one off, a freak of nature so investment will be required and the sanctioning of a spending spree looks likely with a number of names being linked with United in recent weeks. But the austerity of the Glazer regime should not be forgotten despite the success they have enjoyed and it should be pointed out that United under Sir Alex Ferguson were successful in spite of them, not because of them.
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