15 reasons why everyone hates... Manchester United
Please note: Manchester City will get the return treatment too, so no, we aren't just picking on you. Oh, and the below doesn't necessarily represent the views of FourFourTwo. Now, to the fury...
1. The establishment club
It’s not only ‘bitter’ Blues who question the fairness of David Gill sitting on the boards of Manchester United and the FA while also being part of UEFA’s Executive Committee.
Gill’s far-reaching influence shouldn't really come as a surprise, though, as United – like double-barrelled peers and Russian spies – have long been firmly entrenched in the ‘establishment’.
Sir Matt Busby, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson. Bill Shankly, Kenny Dalglish and Bob Paisley. Spot the difference. We can probably expect knighthoods for Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney in the post soon enough.
2. A brand, not a club
At the last count, United brag about having over 30 official commercial partners, ranging from tyre companies to noodle suppliers. While other clubs equate success with silverware, the PLC from Salford has a managing director who proudly announces their social media reach exceeds that of Justin Bieber’s.
It's an odd sensation to feel embarrassment on behalf of an enemy. There should be a word for that. Is there a word for that?
3. Killing the FA Cup
The erosion of the FA Cup’s prestige can be sourced directly back to 2000, when the trophy holders decided to pull out of the tournament in favour of the ill-conceived World Club Championship in Brazil.
Strange, then, that the doom-mongers who mourn the present state of our national treasure concentrate their wrath on clubs who field under-strength sides, leaving United free to enjoy 56 consecutive televised games – all accompanied by the commentator’s flowery praise for their ‘proud association’ with it.
If the demise of the FA Cup’s standing has been death by a thousand cuts, United began the process with a stab to its heart.
4. Favoured by officialdom
Conspiracies cease to become conspiracies when clear and consistent patterns emerge, and seven offside goals already this term brings to mind Richard Scudamore’s claim in 2014 that "Manchester United’s decline is bad for the Premier League".
Widening the frame reveals a welter of highly dubious decisions from the Ferguson era, with referees swayed by fear, reputation and the prospect of having their ability or fitness questioned on the back of every national newspaper by a knight of the realm.
Those who believe football is a level playing field presumably also get soap stars confused with their characters and think the government have their best interests at heart.
5. Buying success
Due to the remarkable one-off crop of 1992, the myth persists that United blood their own players. In actual fact, splurging eye-watering sums on new signings – and thus vastly inflating the market for the rest of football – has been their raison d’etre for years.
Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba are just three monstrous purchases that stand out from countless examples of financial doping. It almost guarantees success, at least when you disregard the fact that the most expensive squad in Premier League history seem permanently moored in sixth place.
Each smashing of the transfer record is naturally accompanied by widespread celebratory press coverage, a reverence which sharply contrasts to the castigation dished out to others who spend to improve.