Manchester United fans' Glazers Out protest changed the transfer window
Manchester United have made a big statement in the transfer window with moves for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.
While this is surprising considering some of the inept summer windows United fans have had to endure, painfully 2018 and 2020 spring to mind, it was also quite inevitable after the strong Glazers Out protests held by supporters earlier this year.
There had to be a response. United fans hijacked one of the Premier League’s glamour fixtures, managing to get the United versus Liverpool match called off. Even the replayed match looked touch and go at times.
The game getting called off made headline news around the world. It was the biggest sporting news of the weekend at the time, and was reported by CNN and various other leading outlets in the Glazers’ home country of America.
Co-owner Joel Glazer met with supporters (via comfort of an online video call) and communicated for the first time in 16 years. If you discount his announcement and apology for the Super League, which provided the fuel for the protests.
Give United fans the assist
United supporters took the ball and ran with it. There were six English clubs who signed up for the Super League. But only one club had been plunged into £445 million debt.
One club has seen stadium facilities left to rust and let rain pour in through the roof.
One club was taken from being a Champions League winning behemoth, to reaching the quarter-finals just twice in eight years, if we were fortunate enough to even qualify.
So United fans said enough was enough, and demanded the owners leave.
They did not agree to leave, but what they agree to, was to start acting like responsible owners for the first time in 16 years. A leopard does not change its spots overnight and this may simply be a sticking plaster solution to try and appease the fans. So United fans will proceed with caution amid the jubilation of signing two top quality players.
If this is part of a longer-term strategy, well, the summer deals are a start towards getting the team winning on the pitch again. Finally the manager is being backed and is being given a squad capable of mounting a serious title challenge.
Joel Glazer promised a raft of measures to give United fans the club they want. These include a club share scheme, fans being invited onto an advisory board, and investment was promised into the team and stadium.
Many of these actions will take time to judge. For investment into the team, the club appear to be getting it right this summer. This was the easy part, and doing big deals for big players is what we expect. Why should United settle for second or third best in the market (if we are lucky) as we have done for years since Cristiano Ronaldo left the club in 2009?
United, free of Glazer debt, would generate enough money to fund big signings year on year. For a club of this stature, a transfer window like this should not be the exception, it should be routine. The owners are a hindrance towards progression.
A lot of credit is being given to United’s new director of football John Murtough, while Ed Woodward is trying to leave on a high note. Credit should only be minimal. It’s possible the Varane and Sancho deals would have been done anyway, but we will never know for sure. It is the fans who really deserve the applause. The protests got the deals over the line.
The fan protests have woken the owners up, and have served to seal the summer deals we want. And they might continue too, with more signings expected. There is no indication that United are done.
The summer deals feel like a reactive apology from the Glazers, trying to buy their way into good favour with the fans. Any goodwill gained will only be short-term, and most supporters will be able to see through it. The club’s debt still remains, with no plan communicated to cut it down.
The protest worked in that it got a reaction from the Glazers, and the team and club may end the year in a better shape. But more long-term, if United fans want the Glazers to go, the protests have to be stepped up rather than calmed down. For now, they are showing no signs of leaving, so the job is not done yet.
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