Brennan's brief | 

Why the Glazer family are not the only ones to blame for the state of Manchester United Football club

Keeping it in the family: Malcolm Glazer's children all have shares Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Keeping it in the family: Malcolm Glazer's children all have shares Photo: GETTY IMAGES

John Brennan

There are lots of people to blame for the state of Manchester United football club – I’m just not sure the Glazer family who own the club are one of them.

You see over the last nine years they have backed four managers, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in the transfer market to the tune of £1 Billion net, that’s after also spending the money that came in on sales of players. And just today they announce the appointment of new boss Erik ten Hag.

The managers are the people who bought back Paul Pogba for a British record transfer fee, when the club had already let him go for nothing earlier in the Frenchman’s career. Those same managers bought Alexis Sanchez and Angel di Maria, who were never going to fit in at United, they are the managers who bought Chelsea cast-offs like Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic.

They are the same managers who bought three strikers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo when all were in their mid-30’s. They ought to have been bought when they were in their mid-20’s.

Do you remember back when the Glazer family bought Manchester United? They were the fans’ choice back then, over the Irish businessmen John Magnier and JP McManus, who were asking questions about the way the club was being run at the time.

Did the supporters look into the Glazers’ background and the way American sport is run? American sport is run as a business, not a community asset. It is a business from which the owners make money. It is called capitalism.

The Glazers were always going to take money out of Manchester United and they have done so ever since they bought the club, but they haven’t taken the money out at the expense of buying players. No, any players the manager wanted they got, and the mish-mash was there to be seen at Anfield on Tuesday night.

Remember someone at Manchester United thought Harry Maguire was £10million a better player than Virgil van Dijk. Because that’s how much more money United paid for Maguire than Liverpool had to shell out for van Dijk,

But perhaps the glory days of taking money out of the club are over for the Glazers. They are going to have to back the new manager, presumably Erik ten Hag, massively in the next three or four transfer windows, while the new boss clears out the stables.

It was interesting to hear Roy Keane speak of players, Cavani, Matic, Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard to name just four, openly wanting to get away from United. Nobody ever wanted to leave United voluntarily. You left when, like Keane and Jaap Stam, the manager mercilessly shifted you out.

The Glazer family have another problem. Fifteen years ago, Old Trafford was the jewel in the crown of English football stadia. Since then, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City and now Liverpool have rebuilt their grounds to a standard, if not a capacity, that is way above Old Trafford.

United’s problem is that the side of the ground you don’t see on TV backs onto a daily-used railway line and houses. It is not possible to build a bigger stand on that site. What the club may have to do, at massive expense, is do what Spurs did and turn their home ground around at an angle of 90’ and use all the space around the ground – which the club has bought up over the years – to construct four new stands.

That too will eat into even United’s deep pockets. The days of the Glazers taking millions per annum out of the club might be over for ten years or so. Will they want to hang around for that, or will they cash in now?


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