Thursday, June 09, 2005

Metro: Never mind the Glazers, think about the football

Source: Manchester Metro News
Lanigan: Never mind the Glazers, think about the football

Published: 09 June 2005

HOW many of the 67,000 fans at Old Trafford, I wonder, instantly thought of Malcolm Glazer when Wayne Rooney fired in that sensational volley against Newcastle?

What proportion of the Red multitude gave the American predator with a kinky taste in trousers a moment's consideration during the penalty shoot-out at the Millennium Stadium that cruelly denied Manchester United the FA Cup last month?

And how many times did the club's vilified new owner cross the minds of the United faithful when they noticed that their £30m record producer and boy-racer Rio was hitting the headlines for everything but his football?

I guarantee the answers are that on no occasion did concerns about take-overs, share dealings and florid Floridians enter the heads of the planet's biggest band of soccer-loving supporters.

The reason? Simply because they appreciate that football is still, despite the distractions of conspiracy, money, greed and cheating, about players and what happens out there on the pitch.

The excesses of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Ferdinand and others frequently decorate the news pages, but it is the 90 minutes they spend on the field of play that define their place in the hearts and minds of the true fans.

Strange, then, that as the Glazer boys finally move in, there still exists a substantial nucleus of dedicated United followers who have got their shorts in a twist about what is happening in the boardroom.

Their resolve and sincerity are hard to criticise but their mind set must be questionable as surely no rabid Red brought up on Charlton, Law, Best, Robson, Hughes and Cantona would choose to watch a bunch of part-time hackers in the North West Counties League rather than the current crop of United stars.

The proposed formation of the breakaway FC United appears a futile exercise to me as the enlarged Theatre of Dreams will still be bursting at the seams for each match and the 75,000 observers will be preoccupied with their heroes' efforts to regain the Premiership title.

The colossal debt that the Glazers have incurred in buying the club is a worry, but not one that should dominate the thinking of the ordinary fan who can still feast on the skills of Scholes, Giggs, Van Nistelrooy and Rooney.

Not surprisingly, Brian Kidd has turned down the opportunity of managing FC United and other targets Sammy McIlroy and Asa Hartford will not doubt follow suit.

Despite the realistic view of spokesman Russell Delaney on what the new club could achieve, it really is a misguided venture as the only winners will be the eager supporters who quickly grab the Old Trafford season tickets discarded by the defectors.

THE intention was to fill this space with a eulogy on Ricky Hatton, but every word of praise that occurred to me had been done to death by a boxing media who finally discovered what a first class fighter and top-class individual the lad from Hyde is following his epic world title victory.