Man Utd fan protest is sloganeering in a bubble
Brighton fan and FootballTalentspotter blogger Frankie Alunga gives us his views on the ongoing supporter protests at Manchester United...
Most football fans don't need an additional reason to hate Manchester United.
Almost unrivalled success, the Ferguson inspired 'us against the world' attitude and the glory hunting fans are usually enough.
However, the current media furore over the anti-Glazer protests is threatening to take this to new levels. And yes, I am aware I sound like a bitter success-starved lower league fan.
Ã¢ÂÂLove United; Hate GlazerÃ¢ÂÂ. A catchy slogan certainly, albeit unimaginatively pinched from Love Music; Hate Racism. And the yellow and gold campaign is as eye-catching as it is wonderfully simple.
But, and here is where it gets annoying, the overall campaign reeks of a middle class prawn sandwich brigade grumble against the very secure backdrop of knowing that, however bad things get, someone will come and 'rescue' United.
Love United, Hate Glazer, Make Empty Gesture?
Whatever the debt, whatever the problems, Manchester United will not go bust. Some knight in shining armour - or half a dozen in red - will come along. Life at Old Trafford will go on.
On the same day as Manchester United fans were protesting about the Glazers while their team owned AC Milan, just a Van der Sar drop kick away Chester City went bust over unpaid debts of ÃÂ£26,000.
Not ÃÂ£26milllion. Not even ÃÂ£260,000. ÃÂ£26,000. ÃÂ£26,125, to be precise. Had one in three Manchester United fans chosen to not buy a programme and instead send their loose change a few miles down the road, a football club with 125 years of history would still be in business, for the time being, at least.
A few years ago Wrexham were having trouble with a speculative property developer. As a fan of Brighton and Hove Albion - a club which has faced the very real threat of going out of business - myself and a few others organised a day of support for our Welsh cousins.
At the Withdean Stadium a crowd of little over 6,000 dug deep and collected around ÃÂ£2,000. Other clubs across the country did similar, some featuring WrexhamÃ¢ÂÂs plight in their match day programmes. Manchester United - if my memory serves me right - did neither.
Back in the late 1990s my beloved Brighton nearly went the way of numerous other clubs before them. The still hated Bill Archer used the club as a way to make a quick buck.
Pertinent slogan, but it's not very catchy, is it?
Where once our old Goldstone Ground stadium stood, there is now a Toys R Us and a Burger King. Is the Stretford End in danger of being sold to build a Sainsburys? Not in a month of United injury time.
Faced with extinction, the Brighton faithful mobilised. A home game with Mansfied was boycotted; another game against York abandoned after a peaceful pitch invasion; a veritable army of Seagulls fans marched on the owners Lancashire home. The protest was relentless. It had to be. Had it not been, the club would have gone under.
And there, I think, is my issue with Manchester United's protest. Large parts of the media have held it up as some sort of trailblazing campaign, the first mass football protest movement of its type.
It is no such thing. It is people happy to sing a few songs, buy a yellow and green scarf but not run the risk of missing a Rooney goal.
They could stay away from Old Trafford (indeed, a survey has shown that 59% of United season ticket holders are considering doing just that next season - will they go through with it?). They could refuse to buy anything at the ground. They could even, heaven forbid, have a day when each fan instead goes to their local non league or lower league club decked out in their gold and green.
Of course some did. A hardcore of traditional supporters ditched the plush surroundings of Old Trafford and formed their own club, FC United of Manchester - preferring to start again with a club they could be morally proud of, rather than sit back and watch the moneymen pervert the team they once loved.
All power to those that did. Incidentally, FC United are playing punk football outfit St Pauli at the Millerntor in Germany to celebrate St Pauli's centenary on May 15. An afternoon for proper football, as far removed from the plastic goings on at Old Trafford as it possible.
Against Milan last night, ITVÃ¢ÂÂs Clive Tyldesley revealed it had been mooted that the United supporters would remain outside Old Trafford for the first ten minutes. But, he added, "these supporters are just that - supporters, and whatever is going on they will support their team". That just about sums it up.
"I don't even remember playing for Norwich..."
The pinnacle of the protests down in Brighton was a Ã¢ÂÂFans UnitedÃ¢ÂÂ day where supporters from all over the world came to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Albion crowd to show their backing.
United have for so long existed in a bubble, cut off from the real football world which exists just miles away at Stockport, Chester, York or Wrexham. They are unlikely to find too much sympathy in those places now.
When the second United goal went in against AC Milan the anti-Glazer chants started. By then though, it was more of a Beckham love-in anyway. It seems it is far easier to sing protest songs when your team is winning than send a bigger message by staying away altogether.
The green and gold campaign is just indicative of the Ã¢ÂÂbig fourÃ¢ÂÂ. The real battle for football's future is going on at a club near you.