Manchester United: Sir Alex Insists All's Well As Club Lurches Like a Sick Beast

illya mclellan@illya mclellan @illbehaviorNZSenior Analyst IOctober 21, 2010

A huge figure in world football, Sir Alex Ferguson cannot hide his worry all the time.
A huge figure in world football, Sir Alex Ferguson cannot hide his worry all the time.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester United, the red devils, a name synonymous with success and trophies. A club that has seen legends of football grace its pitch with their footballing majesty. A club that was the benchmark for world footballing success a little over four years ago, when they won the English premier league, the champions league and then the world club championship in a succession of triumphs that left other footballing giants wondering what it was they could do to emulate their success. 

The answer to their question was simple.

Merely to wait, as the club was bled of its financial power by the owners, who have sunk their vile and disgusting claws into it and sucked away not only the means by which the club maintained its superiority and advantage, but also the dreams and happiness of fans the world over. Fans who wish only is to see their team perform at the pinnacle of its strength and to light up their lives in a way that gives them hope and glory, in lives that are often lived struggling to see a way out of the despair that the modern world visits upon them.

The Glazer family have taken a club that has for the last twenty or so years consistently been one of the highest performing clubs in terms of revenue and trophies, to a point where their most recognizable player, Wayne Rooney, has said that he does not think the club is good enough any more for him to play for. The situation which they have placed the club in meant that after the sale of their most bankable asset, Cristiano Ronaldo, they were unable to use any of the money gained, a record in the history of transfer dealings, to attempt to replace the talent that left the club when he made his way to Spain. 

The form of the team has dipped rapidly since Ronaldo's departure, partly due to him leaving but also because of the club's inability to afford replacement for his excellence on the field of play. The clubs fans have staged a campaign by which they tried to rid themselves of these Glazers, opportunists who have latched on like leeches to a wounded animal stumbling in a marsh, opportunists who have no sense of the history of the club, the significance of such things as 'the Busby Babes', or the Munich tragedy, or the European triumph of 1968, opportunists who seek only to gain power and wealth at the expense of the happiness of millions of fans.

United have started the new season with form that would have fans of many clubs in great spirits, the trouble for United is, they have looked below the standard the club and its fans have set for themselves, struggling to away draws and looking entirely unconvincing even on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford.

United are starting to look a bit like an aging Lothario, still convinced of his charms, but then finding that he just does not quite have the powers he once took for granted. 

The clubs debt has blown out to a staggering 720 million pounds. An outrageous amount in that it could probably buy all of the teams in one of the lower English divisions. 

The major problem for those who wish for United to be a success on the pitch, is that off the pitch they remain successful in terms of money made and the value ascribed to the club as a financial entity. The Glazers have repeatedly said that the club is not for sale, this despite the fans anguish at the state of the squad and the strengthening of many premiership rivals, which has meant that United can no longer go to grounds where three points were almost guaranteed and take these points.

Deficiencies in the squad have taken the swagger from their play and weakened the squad to the point where they can not even have a team of squad players capable of seeing off a newly promoted side on their own pitch. The disturbing thing for United now is that it seems they have to put out their strongest side for as many games as they can, because the depth of talent that was once taken for granted at the club, no longer exists. 

All the while, the Glazers are in the ground for home games, like a pack of evil trolls, grinning fiendishly as they look over the club that they somehow managed to sink their filthy talons into, like vultures feasting on carrion, they can afford to hold the club for so long, taking out money to ensure their financial prosperity, until some hyena in the form of the banks comes along and cleans up the remains of this footballing legend.

The future for United looks decidedly grim at this point, under-performing in the league and in realistic danger of not qualifying for the champions League. Looking at the form of their major rivals in the league, they are no where near as strong as they once were and teams such as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, could well finish above them in the league, something a United fan would have laughed about a few years ago.

All this means that world class talent will be even less likely to join their ranks and also could deal a financial blow that would put them into a downward spiral that could lead to administration and beyond.

The giant that is Manchester United has been crippled, but like any proud monster it struggles on, lurching about desperately, trying to strike fear into the hearts of its adversaries before they can nimbly step aside and put it out of its misery.

Not since the end of the tenure of the legendary Sir Matt Busby have things looked this grim for United, the club even being relegated in 1974, only six years after they had been at the pinnacle of Europe.

The side that won in Europe in 1968, had by 1974, lost the legendary figures of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, and terrible form in the league led to relegation and ridicule and a twenty seven year period where they did not win the top division in England.

In 2010 they appear to be about to lose Wayne Rooney after having already lost Cristiano Ronaldo, two players integral in the success they experienced in the champions league trophy win of 2008. Interestingly, a third player who was vital to this success has also been rumored to want away, Nemanja Vidic, who was said to be courting possible European clubs with which to ply his trade. 

Could this be a remarkable coincidence? A knight of the realm coming to the end of his tenure at the club, the loss of key players, and poor form in the league being things that are occurring now and that at the end of the sixties led the club into a cycle of stagnation that was not escaped from until twenty seven years later.

The one thing about football fans is that when the glory days are upon them, they begin to think they will never end. The truth of everything is that there is an end to everything. This could well be the end of United's magnificent run. It only remains to be seen if Sir Alex Ferguson can work one more season of magic, to keep United in the top four, so that they can keep close to their rivals. If he cannot, and they slip out of the champions league spots, it could be a dire future for this giant of football, a future that the fans dare not speak of, for fear that their worst fears may be realized.


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