Home » How the Glazers have turned Man United from heroes to zeroes in 10 different measures

How the Glazers have turned Man United from heroes to zeroes in 10 different measures

by Red Billy

Roy Keane dubbed Manchester United “the new Spurs” after the side’s dismal 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur yesterday, a crunching “ouch” of punditry reminiscent of the crunching tackles he dished out as a player.

It’s easy to get deflated after a poor start to the season that has been only marginally better than the horrific start to 2022/23, but Keane has a point: United are now the perennial underachievers in English football, on the fringes of the top four but never quite good enough to win anything and never able to build a squad strong enough to really challenge for the title.

Should the club finally be sold this year – something that itself is now in doubt – that will be the Glazer family’s legacy: they turned United from one of the top three or four teams in the world into one struggling to even reach the top three or four in England.

The actual amount of money invested in those 18 years is not the issue. The issue is that all the decisions have been made, and continue to be made, by men who know nothing about football, from Joel and Avram Glazer at the top of the tree to (formerly) Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold down to the likes of (previous negotiator) Matt Judge and completely out of his depth director of football, John Murtough.

Millions, possibly by now billions, have been wasted on poor strategizing, poor transfer targeting, poor negotiating, the dishing out of brainless contracts and poor loan and sales decisions.

When the Glazers took over Manchester United the club had one of the greatest managers in the history of football in Sir Alex Ferguson, and one of the world’s best and most respected chairmen of the era, David Gill. To replace these with the likes of David Moyes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the aforementioned Richard Arnold and Ed Woodward, the Glazers turned United from having one of the world’s best managers and the world’s best chairmen to being something of a laughing stock at times.

And if you accept the idea that Sir Alex performed both manager and director of football roles, United had one of the world’s best DoFs in 2005. Now they have Murtough. Probably not even the best DoF in his own house. City have Txiki Begiristain, Liverpool had Michael Edwards and now Jorg Schmadtke, Arsenal have Edu, we have Murtough, with no football experience whatsoever and no previous job experience.

But the Glazers’ legacy can also be seen in terms of infrastructure. The stadium United were beaten in yesterday is light years ahead of Old Trafford in every conceivable respect. In 2005 when Malcolm Glazer plunged the club into debt to execute his hostile takeover, Old Trafford was also among the top stadiums in the world. Now, it is an embarrassment. Now, there are stadia in the Championship and arguably even League 1 (for example, the newly and amusingly named Toughsheet Community Stadium in Bolton) that are in better nick than the semi-derelict wreck that sits at the end of Sir Matt Busby Way.

As Cristiano Ronaldo pointed out in his infamous Piers Morgan interview, the neglect is not restricted to the stadium, either. The training facilities at Carrington, the envy of most of the world in 2005, are now substandard.

In terms of inclusivity, United were one of the pioneers of proper sections for people with different abilities. Nowadays they are among the league’s worst in terms of accessibility, ranked next to bottom by Age UK Mobility in 2021. It is shameful.

There is also another area where the Glazers have taken United from heroes to zeroes. United used to stand as one of the world’s most morally responsible clubs. From the days of sacking manager Tommy Docherty when it was found he was having an affair with physio Laurie Brown’s wife to selling Jaap Stam because he told tales out of school, United had a moral backbone.

Under the Glazers, however, United are reportedly plotting to bring Mason Greenwood back into the team with complete disregard for the message it sends to impressionable young men across the world. While unsustainable debt has left Manchester United close to financial bankruptcy, their latest manoeuvres regarding Greenwood leaves the club teetering on the brink of moral bankruptcy, too.

The fiasco that saw United buying in to the failed European Super League project in 2021 is another example of decaying morals. Fans were ashamed that their club was willing to enter into an unethical venture that would harm grassroots football beyond all recognition. It was left to the players at the time to lead the revolt against the money-grabbing executives.

And speaking of money grabbing, the one thing that the Glazers have championed above all these other considerations is commercial success. Football, ethics and people’s lives has been secondary to making money.

But has it all been worth it? Well, no. Because even on the soulless barometer by which the greedy tycoons measure themselves, United have deteriorated. In 2005, United were the world’s richest club and had been so for eight consecutive years. In 2023, despite the world’s biggest and most loyal fanbase and all the Glazers’ worst efforts, they have slumped to fourth.

There is not one single measure by which United measure better, or even equal, after 18 years of Glazer ownership than they did before. If there was one shred of decency in the bones of the current owners, it would surely scream at them to finally do the right thing and bow out while there is still a club left to salvage.

10 factors of success by which United can be measured:

Measure 2005 2006-2023
On-pitch achievements World’s elite PL also-rans
Squad building World’s elite Top half of PL
Managers World’s elite Mostly substandard
Chairmen/CEO World’s elite Abject failures
Sporting director World’s elite Non-league standard
Stadium Among world’s finest Semi-derelict
Training facilities Among world’s finest League 1 level
Accessibility Among world’s best Second bottom in PL
Ethics and morals Among world’s best Without merit
Wealth World’s richest World’s fourth richest

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