Green & Gold protest to rumble on
Sir Alex Ferguson opined in his programme notes for the Newcastle game that the Ã¢ÂÂone situation which clouds the new season is the continued opposition to the Glazer family.Ã¢ÂÂ
The United manager added that he had Ã¢ÂÂno problem with the green and gold campaignÃ¢ÂÂ and that Ã¢ÂÂfans are entitled to protest as they see fit Ã¢ÂÂ but not to the detriment of the team.Ã¢ÂÂ
The objections about UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs ownership arenÃ¢ÂÂt going away and not even a man of FergusonÃ¢ÂÂs power and influence can change that. They exist because United fans have genuine and legitimate concerns abut the future of the club. They exist because fans resent the fact that the most financially successful club in world football was effectively bought on tick and plunged into a massive debt.
Many decided to Ã¢ÂÂwait and seeÃ¢ÂÂ after the takeover in 2005. They saw their season tickets rise at rates higher than any other club in the Premier League to the point that the waiting list diminished and they were put on open sale this summer.
United could strike commercial deals with snake oil companies or war criminals for all fans care, but hammer them with price rises and thereÃ¢ÂÂll be uproar, just as there was when United revealed their inner financial workings in January as they sort to finance a ÃÂ£500 million bond. That appalled not just the political fringe, but the usually tolerant supporting majority.
The green and gold campaign was spawned and it was hugely visible and effective. It won approval from most in an increasingly divided red fan base. Those divisions and intolerance of the opinions of others have been one the saddest aspects of the Glazer takeover.
The protests also made people at the club realise the extent of the opposition to the Glazer ownership, a constant and embarrassing reminder that had to be explained to visiting directors. This wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a noisy minority as some in senior positions Old Trafford had claimed, but included most match going fans.
Well, seeing as you asked so nicley...
Granted, some of them didnÃ¢ÂÂt know what they were protesting about. I stood outside Old Trafford Metrolink station before the Liverpool game in March with the lads selling G&G scarves. They couldnÃ¢ÂÂt keep up with the demand, yet it was apparent that many buyers had little clue why they were handing over a fiver - other than because everyone else was.
It was easy to cynical about tourists wearing green and gold while clutching bags of official merchandise Ã¢ÂÂ but it was a simple and striking way for many to demonstrate that they wanted the Glazer family out. And it worked, to a small degree. Do you think season ticket prices would have been held if it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt for the green and gold?
Still, it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt high profile enough for some. Asked for his opinions about the green and gold campaign, one former United legend who still lives in Manchester replied: Ã¢ÂÂThe what? Never heard of it.Ã¢ÂÂ
The actions of some fans also baffled. One, who had made several anti-Glazer flags, found himself sharing a lift with Joel Glazer in America pre-season. What did he do? Smiled and requested a photo with him.
And FergusonÃ¢ÂÂs fear of protests having a negative effect on the team are unfounded because the campaign galvanised the all too frequently mournful Old Trafford atmosphere. Would Burnley and Hull at home in January been half as lively if the fans were stood up in full voice protesting? The players have never been targeted, nor the manager.
Many fans wonÃ¢ÂÂt be around to protest as they didnÃ¢ÂÂt renew their season tickets, yet Old Trafford will be full more often than not - though thousands of former match going fans will now watch games in pubs or FC United at Gigg Lane. And the Glazers only have themselves to blame.
The manager has made his position clear and he clearly thinks the Glazers are terrific owners. Compared to some of the autocrats heÃ¢ÂÂs worked for in the past, they probably are. The Glazers let him get with doing his job Ã¢ÂÂ which he continues to do exceptionally well - because they know heÃ¢ÂÂs UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs greatest asset.
Ferguson is more powerful than those who employ him, but that power does not extend to stopping the fans protesting.
Will history prove them right? For that weÃ¢ÂÂll have to wait and see.