I normally do not get agitated by articles, which display one’s passion for a club. In fact, it just strengthens the fact that there are some very zealous fans out there who are representing nothing but their love for that beloved team or nation that they support.
However, I recently came across this article written in July by a Manchester United supporter and a journalist for Red Army Fanzine – Sean McGuire. Long story short, he went on about how Manchester United is all about heart while simultaneously criticizing money-rich clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea.
Sean painted a very good picture of Manchester United’s faithful players like Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes emphasizing on the point that it was not the money that motivated them to play football or represent the club. This is wholeheartedly agreed with. It is just that one statement from Sean at the end of the article which bothered me. To a point that it drove me to scribble this response. He goes on to say:
“Manchester City are a soulless entity with no history, who have a half-empty stadium that is named after an aeroplane company. Chelsea are a faceless organisation that has its team picked by an oil tycoon oligarch who never watch a football game until he bought his Chelsea monopoly board.”
Not sure of the Chelsea fans but as a Manchester City fan, it is attacking to a certain level to hear such blatant assertions and I for one, am going enjoyed responding to this. Speaking purely as a MCFC’s supporter, I do recognize the history our rivals have. Pure and unattainable – Period. But you know what, MCFC has history too. Just because we did not suffer an unfortunate disaster like United did in the Munich disaster in 1958 and the following subsequent events, which drew a lot of attention, affinity and increased the likeable factor of the club, does not mean that we had not seen our share of obstacles. Let me point out that Manchester City was named earlier (1894) than Manchester United was (1904) although the latter was created two years prior to the former. We were the first Manchester-named club in the city to come into existence. That in it should stand for something.
Focusing on the “soulless” aspect of the statement, I have to admit that Manchester City along with Chelsea has raised the bar when it comes to big-money transfers. Something we all, as pure football lovers despise. However, this activity was not recently innovated in the world of football. Clubs like Real Madrid had been spending lump sum of money on transfers for quite some time, it was just that it did not enter the English league, yet.
On the flip side, coming to think about it, Manchester United are the only Premier League team that has an 183 K strong set of Green & Gold supporters that are fighting on a daily basis against the management. This again is the passion of the true supporters who are fighting against an ROI focused administration.
And the fact that the club entered the world of IPO’s last month explains how “soulful” the club is. As it currently stands, the IPO is not doing what it was meant to which is bring in more capital for the club to reduce it’s debt.
And for a similar reason the club sold its star playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo (who repetitively asked for a transfer out of the club) to Real Madrid for a fee of £80 million in 2009. The MUFC loyalists would say, “We do not want anyone in the club who does not want to be a part of it”. But they lie to themselves as the Portuguese played a very significant role in their presence in back-to-back Champions League finals, in addition to a hat trick of Premier League titles. And without any doubt, would love to have him there.
David Beckham at one point said that he never wanted to leave Manchester United. Well, he did and he went on to wear two whites (Real Madrid and LA Galaxy) and represent Calvin Klein as an underwear model. This was not about money at all.
And then there was this talk about the attendance. The ground capacity of Etihad stadium is ~ 47,405 and according to stats from Barclays Premier League through soccernet (Google it if you are concerned on the legibility of these numbers), the following had been the average attendances at the Etihad for the past 3 years:
- 2011/2012: 47,044
- 2010/2011: 45,880
- 2009/2010: 45,512
The above numbers are way above the “half-empty stadium” remark, which the writer had stated.
(Photo Credit: Alan Kiggin from Planespotters.net)
“Named after an aeroplane company”? Sean, Etihad is not an “aeroplane” company. It is an Airline. There is a difference. And yes, as a City fan it was uncomfortable to hear that the name was changed from the City of Manchester Stadium (the Eastlands). It’s sad to see history being done with in that manner. But that is the ill effect of the financial situation not just the sport is facing but also the entire world. And there are conflicting reports that the MUFC owners are considering rebranding Old Trafford. So everything is not all virtuous on how you guys would refer to as “the West end” of Manchester.
Sean concluded with the following:
“And none of these reasons are because we have had a rich owner pumping money into the club or because we have spent billions on overpriced players who only want to play for the money.”
Forbes allows me to base my rebuttal to the above statement purely on numbers. Keeping Roman Abramovich out of the picture, the Malcolm Glazer Family currently has a net worth of $2.7B (2012) while Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahayan’s net worth is $4.9B (2009 – Forbes did not have the latest numbers).
Now, I do not know about you but anyone whose net worth is in the Billions is yes, not rich, but “WEALTHY”. There is a difference between rich and wealthy. Chris Rock could not have exemplified between the two in any better way:
“Shaq is rich,” he said, referring to the all time great Shaquille O’Neal, “but the man who signs his check is wealthy. Oprah is rich, but Bill Gates is wealthy. If Bill Gates suddenly woke up with Oprah’s money, he’d slit his throat.” (Edited version)
Both Manchester United and Manchester City have wealthy owners. The only difference is that Sheikh Mansour bought the club with the money he had with no liabilities on the club. United owner, Glazer had been and is still paying off the millions in debts he owes since the time the club was purchased.
I admit to the fact that Manchester United can boast of a history that no other team could replicate, for now, in the Premier League. I also admit that the players (few of them) of the past where one heck of a breed, which is why I enjoyed watching Manchester United as a boy when my allegiances were still neutral. But all that does not give the right for a loyalist to be arrogant to this level. Displaying passion is appreciated but displaying arrogance based on wrong factual information is just plain !@#$%^ up (ten points to the person who guessed the word).
PS: This by no means was to aggravate the Manchester United fans. This article should be taken as a Manchester City fan’s response to a Manchester United fan.