Glazers Not to Blame for Manchester United’s Trouble

Since Manchester United’s exit from the group stage of the Champions League, many theories have been proposed to explain why the Red Devils have struggled recently. The most baffling of these ideas points the finger of blame at the Glazers, the controversial owners of United.

Over the last five years (2006-2011), Manchester United’s net transfer spending is 8th highest in the Premier League at £58.9 million. Sunderland, Stoke City, and Aston Villa are all above the world’s most valuable club, as well as Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City. At first, it seems that the Glazers may actually be restraining the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson by limiting his transfer funds, but a closer look leads to a different conclusion.

Obviously, Manchester United start every season with a much better squad than the likes of Stoke City and Sunderland. Their squad also contains many more valuable players they can sell, which counts when calculating net transfer spending. Stoke have been forced to operate with a high net spend because the players they discard do not bring high transfer fees.

Liverpool and Tottenham have both spent a boatload of cash in an effort to finish in the top four, which brings money into the club. Manchester City and Chelsea have bought plenty of expensive players in the last five years in order to compete for the title. Both also started with average or below-average squads before they landed “sugar daddies.”

From the Glazers’ point of view, there hasn’t been a real need to splash the cash on new players. Manchester United have lifted the Premiership trophy in four of the last five seasons and made it to three Champions League finals (winning one) in the same amount of time. There is no incentive to invest heavily in the squad when a club is consistently finishing above all of their competitors.

While the Glazers can be blamed for the debt their takeover caused, they should not become the scapegoat for every minor failure. The suggestion that United must now spend big on three or four players to compete is utterly ridiculous, as their squad was already superior to that of Basel and Benfica even with the injuries. The blame should rest firmly on the shoulders of Ferguson and the players.

When United have won trophies in the past, Sir Alex Ferguson and his players garnered all the praise, with no mention of the Glazers. Yet, when the difficulties arise, the owners are tossed to fire, with Ferguson made to look almost like a victim. This double standard should not exist.

The way British media has reacted to the recent struggles of the Red Devils is different than their treatment of Chelsea and Arsenal during their hard times. When Arsenal got off to a terrible start to the season, Arsene Wenger was openly mocked by the pundits. By the way, Arsenal’s net transfer spending in the last five years is the lowest in the Premier League at -£31.3 million. As Chelsea were experiencing difficulties, the papers went right for the neck of Andre Villas-Boas.

With that said, Manchester United still would benefit from signing a creative central midfielder, but it will be difficult for them. There’s no doubt that United could pay a large transfer fee for Wesley Sneijder, but his reported wages (over £200,000 per week) are the problem. If they signed him, Wayne Rooney, Nani, and the rest would line up for their increased piece of pie. This is the new reality for most clubs since Chelsea and Manchester City first flexed their financial muscles, and United are finally starting to feel the effects.

The Glazers will not increase their investment in the squad to match City and Chelsea because they treat the club as a business, not a hobby. And for those United supporters calling for their own sugar daddy, be warned that there are side effects. Would Ferguson put up with an owner who wanted to exert some power over player selection?

No overhaul is needed at Old Trafford, nor should panic be in the minds of the Red Devils faithful. United’s last elimination in the group stage of the Champions League in 2005 did not trigger the end of the empire. Only a fool would say that United are out of the title race, with only two points separating them from the top spot in the table.

9 thoughts on “Glazers Not to Blame for Manchester United’s Trouble”

  1. ‘The Glazers will not increase their investment in the squad to match City and Chelsea because they treat the club as a business’

    Exactly, We want it treated as a football club not just a money maker for them scrounging americans

  2. Exactly right. It’s not that we cant afford sneijders transfer fee and 200k wage demand it’s the knock on effect it will have on the wage bill when other players contracts are renewed. As much as I would have liked sneijder during the summer his age and his alleged demands mean the deal wouldn’t have made sense.

    As for the owners as much as I hate the debt they put on the club they have to be given some credit for they way the have stayed out of SAF way and just let him get on with winnning titles.

    I still say the glaziers will sell up when fergie announces his retirement.

  3. I also agree. They’ve been hit by some really unfortunate injuries and that’s affecting them. No amount of depth or retooling can make up for losing Vidic.

  4. good article i think SAF is in a class of his own.right or wrong with his resume the fans will cover for him.what if the Glazers were British would there be the outrage?since they are Americans they are an easy mark.i agree with the other posts Sneijder sounds good but all the ramifications would not be good for the team plus his you think that winning titles and not having to be the top spenders is a double edge sword?false sense of talent or depth.i think if your honest things were good at the beginning of the season before the injury bug struck and i know all teams have injuries to deal with.

  5. Finally! Some sense from a football writer! I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for someone to write an article for any football blog/paper saying exactly this. Sure the debt changes the degree to which United can do their business, but it hasn’t yet stopped them from getting anyone they want, and won’t in the future. Ferguson is the boss, and he gets his man whenever he’s truly determined to get them. Ferguson not wanting to waste money on an unreasonably expensive, injury prone and anemic Dutch midfield maestro is not equivalent to United being unable to buy “anyone” because of the debt. Ferguson knows that there’s too many players who can’t live up to their price tag regardless of their talent (Torres, Veron, Carrol, and Berbatov to a lesser degree), and so spending shrewdly leads to more relaxed players who perform at a higher level when called upon. There’s no real mystery to it.

    When he says there’s no value in the market, he doesn’t mean there are no players he wants, he means there are no top quality players who can be purchased for a realistic price. Everyone knows Modric isn’t worth 40 million, Bale isn’t worth 35, Sneijder isn’t worth 35, and Nasri isn’t worth 25. The market is inflated, and until it comes back down to Earth sometime in the future, certain teams, United included, won’t buy into the madness. Do they risk missing out on a title in the process? Possibly, but when you’ve been at the top for more than two decades and are revered around the world as one of the all time greats, these things ultimately matter little in the end. United have established themselves in the upper echelon of world football, and can’t be kept down for very long, much like the likes of Real, Barca, Milan, Juve, and so on.

    As for the Champions League exit, it happens. Ferguson played weakened squads throughout the group stage to give certain players vital experience and games (as he’s done for many years now), and for once it didn’t work. Simple as that. It’s not a crisis, it’s just a part of football. He took a necessary gamble, and it backfired. Don’t expect United to make a habit of it. Fact of the matter is that United have been decimated by injuries since sometime in September, haven’t looked very convincing since the first half against Chelsea at OT, and yet are only two points behind the injury-free, high flying superstars of Manchester City. United may not win the title this year, in fact I’d be somewhat surprised if they do without twice-player-of-the-year Vidic and another accomplished midfielder, but anyone who even entertains the idea that United permanently are on the way down is foolish and sadly mistaken.

  6. Man U is also in the process of a £700/ $1 billion IPO in the Singapore stock market. It was to go through in September but fears of a shaky stock market it was put on hold. This would sell off 25% of lower voting shares and keep Glazers as the controlling interest but almost entirely eliminate the debt. Also put Man U in perfect position for new Fair Play rules in 2014. Despite what some may post here, they do not use Man U as a cash cow, and in the past year have paid back £170m of the debt, while turning a modest profit.

    Man U is the most valuable brand in sport. Worth close to $2 billion. And that figure has only risen in stature since the Glazers took over.

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