Angry Manchester United fans protest outside Old Trafford as hate campaign against Glazers escalates

09 May 2010 10:15
For the previous three years, Manchester United's season ended with Premier League winners' medals draped around the players' necks. This weekend, United's campaign closed with a green and gold scarf wrapped around it.

There is a Carling Cup in the trophy cabinet, too, plus the memory of Wayne Rooney in full flow, but when we reflect on the first half of 2010 at Old Trafford it will be surely to remember, above all, the power of a scarf.

That something so simple and relatively cheap could come to symbolise the economic discontent at one of the world's most robust sporting institutions is truly remarkable.

Up in smoke: Manchester United fans protest against the Glazer family

Even Sir Alex Ferguson must have thought so once again. As the clockticked towards six and Ferguson was handed a microphone in the middleof the pitch to address supporters, he turned towards the Stretford Endand saw thousands of raised green and gold scarves.

He did not mention that or the club's American owners, the Glazerfamily, during his short speech but he must have been impressed by thesheer endurance of the anti-Glazer protest by supporters. They are asmuch a part of United as Rooney's goals.

The club and the manager will have been less pleased at thepre-match scuffling outside the megastore before kick-off, where asmoke bomb was thrown, and with the 'GO' Glazers Out leaflets beinghanded out down Sir Matt Busby Way.

But these were further reminders that a significant section ofUnited fans have been politicised since the old colours of Newton Heathbegan to reappear in January.

Angry: United fans vent their fury outside Old Trafford before the clash against Stoke

Even with the prospect of a fourth consecutive League title stillalive, albeit on life support, the anti-Glazer party still maintainedthe organised pressure. Whistles handed out beforehand were blown withvigour at the beginning of the second half and at full time. AfterFerguson's brief address, he and the squad set off on a slow lap ofappreciation.

There were scarves thrown onto the turf, as there always are onthese occasions, but they were not red and white, and they wereavoided. For a player to pick up one and wear it on a day like thiswould have sent football electricity through an afternoon previouslyunplugged.

Ferguson had been filmed autographing a scarf at another recent game and that made its way onto the internet.

Presumably the squad know the score. Were Ferguson and the playingstaff not so stable, it could be said United were in for a potentiallyproblematic summer at boardroom level. It remains to be seen whatdevelops.

Mock-up: Fake banknotes showing the face of Manchester United's US owner Malcolm Glazer

As goal bulletins punched their way north from Stamford Bridge, aseyes scanned the greying skies for a sign of a planned protest planethat never appeared, and as AIG said a corporate farewell on theadvertising hoardings after 'four great years', the state of Uniteddominated the noise emanating from their own fans, and Stoke's.

'We're run by English,' was one of the offerings from the visitingsupporters. Stoke are few neutrals' idea of great entertainment. Thenagain, two years ago they were playing at Colchester. Manager TonyPulis mentioned afterwards that Stoke are 'debt-free', which will benoted by United fans.

In his programme notes, Ferguson had a message for those who deemthis season a failure. 'They should remember,' he said, 'that when Iarrived at Old Trafford, Liverpool were winning the Championship on aregular basis, while we had gone 20 years without the title.

Altogether now: Supporters' protest continued inside Old Trafford

'We changed all that and in fact have won the Premier League on 11occasions, so I think we have moved in the right direction. As for thisseason, we have to measure the successes against the disappointmentsand taking everything into account, I think we are on the credit side.

'It's not complacency, just common sense to conclude that we havehad a good season that has not been without its rewards. It could havebeen better but overall we are finishing in good shape.'

Ferguson promised that United 'will go again' next season. By the look of it, against a green and gold background.

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Source: Daily_Mail

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