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Opinion: Reds too good to boycott!
Published : 11 Mar 2010 11:01:05Rss feed
There is a fundamental flaw in expecting die-hard Manchester United supporters to revolt - it's a contradiction in terms. Which is why it was no surprise to see not a single empty seat in the house at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. For all the talk of 15-minute boycotts, it was business as usual at the Theatre of Dreams, which is surely the greatest threat to the Red Knights' hopes of ousting the Glazers. Wave all the green and gold scarves you want - and David Beckham sported one as he came off the pitch - it's only when United fans talk with their feet that the club's much-maligned owners start to listen. Beckham said: "I'm a Manchester United fan. When I saw the scarf I put it round my neck - it's the old colours of United. "To be honest, it's not my business. I'm a United fan and I support the club, I always will. "It's nothing to do with me how it's run. That's to do with other people. "I support the team. I will always support the team." It was always going to be a big ask to expect supporters to stay away on a real glamour night. And there's the conundrum. At a time when the big matches just keep on coming, when will United's disillusioned support be driven to stay away? Fulham on Sunday looks a far more likely opportunity to make a stand - but after that the chances become increasingly limited. Chelsea, Liverpool and at least one more Champions League opponent still have to come to Old Trafford before the season is out - so what chance any empty seats on any of those occasions? Green and Gold If there was any danger of the Green and Gold campaign choosing this night to make their most forcible point - Sir Alex Ferguson chose his programme notes to appeal for unity. "I don't think I really have to ask you to get behind the team this evening," he said in full tub-thumping mode. "Old Trafford will be rocking, just as it was when we took on Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-final with so much to play for. "Whether you are wearing the traditional red-and-white or the protest green-and-gold scarves, we will be united and speaking with one voice to get us safely through." He needn't have bothered. While green and gold - the colours of this particular revolution - punctuated Old Trafford's stands, protests went no further than scarf waving and banners. It will take more than that to make the Glazers pack their bags. If the Americans have proved anything, it's that they have the stomach for the fight. Near riots didn't stop their acrimonious takeover in 2005 - and so far the signs are that no amount of supporter unrest, nor the sum of £1.5bn will be enough to convince them to sell up. For their part, they insist they are in it for the long haul. And even if it took the world record sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to avoid United making a loss for the last financial year, they appear unmoved in their intention to remain in situ. Nights like Wednesday's would have done little to convince them to walk away - which is another problem for those desperate to see them off. The success just keeps on coming. Arguably United's most reviled owners have presided over the club's greatest period of success. Love or loathe them there is no denying United have collected trophy after trophy during their five-year tenure. Three successive Premier League titles could become four this season. Last night's hugely impressive victory against AC Milan has put them a step closer to a third successive Champions League final. While the `Love United Hate Glazer' strewn from the Stretford End is evidence enough of supporter unrest, should United triumph in either the league, Europe or both this season, that will be the enduring memory of the campaign, rather than the banners. It was notable that it wasn't until the last 10 minutes of a match that had long since been won that the anti-Glazer murmurs became a roar. The loyal supporters deserve credit for as much. As much as they "Hate Glazer" they "Love United" - and no amount of dissatisfaction could be allowed to jeopardise their idols' European pursuit. Whether they can stick to that philosophy and still succeed in their bid to oust their American owners is the million dollar question. The Manchester United Supporters Trust currently boasts nearly 127,000 members. The Red Knights have advanced their takeover campaign by appointing a team of financial advisors. Ironically, the men concerned advised United on its £790m takeover by the Glazers five years ago. Guy Dawson, an investment banker from financial services group Nomura, will lead the team along with Andrew McNaught. What do you think? Have your say.
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