An underwhelming transfer window this past summer has left many Manchester United fans deflated for the upcoming season. Spending a measly £74.43m on new players pails in comparison to title rivals Liverpool, Chelsea and even Leicester City. This is what fans call the Glazer problem.
It’s easy to point fingers at the manager in such situations. This is because Jose Mourinho is a figurehead for the club. After all, he is the one selecting the team, deciding on tactics and attending press conferences.
However, the problem at Old Trafford has never been the Portuguese veteran. The problem on the red side of Manchester lies with the owners. It’s important to acknowledge how these parasitic owners are holding back the biggest club in England, and one of the three biggest in the world.
The Glazer Problem of Manchester United
A History of the Glazers
The Glazer problem began when they completed their takeover of the club in 2005. This takeover was incredibly controversial. Many fans were left disgruntled with the large amount of debt the club was put into as a result of the loans the Glazers took out. Since this takeover, United have spent considerably less than rivals Chelsea, Manchester City and even Liverpool. For a club who turns over the most revenue in the world, this is simply unacceptable.
Perhaps the most infamous example of the Glazers’ penny-pinching came in the summer of 2009. United had just sold Cristiano Ronaldo for a then-world record £80m. The club was in need of a world-class replacement and obviously had money to spend. Instead, United chose to buy Antonio Valencia from Wigan Athletic for £18m and Michael Owen on a free transfer.
This is, quite simply, disgusting. Replacing one of the two best players in the world with mediocre players is inexcusable from United, and it all boils down to the owners. The Glazers knew that Ferguson’s genius could mask deficiencies in the squad. In trusting Ferguson, they could keep the large majority of Ronaldo’s fee knowing they would still contend for titles. This penny pinching is still a common theme today.
In the summer of 2017 United refused to pay the extra £5m needed to acquire Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan. It was well known that Mourinho wanted him, but the Glazers refused to pay. The decision not to pay the extra money looks foolish in hindsight, as Perisic was one of the very best players of the 2018 World Cup.
This past summer, the Glazer problem has persisted at United. Once again the owners of the club have refused to pay the fees necessary to capture the players Mourinho desires.
The Glazer problem has been flagrantly evident this past summer.
It was well known in footballing circles that Jose Mourinho demanded a top-class centre-back. Toby Alderweireld was one such candidate. It was widely reported that United wanted Alderweireld and that he wanted to leave Spurs for a well-deserved pay rise. The Glazers, however, had other plans.
United spent the entire summer negotiating with Spurs for Alderweireld. But, as expected, the Glazers were unwilling to pay Daniel Levy’s asking price for the Belgium international. This left Mourinho incredibly frustrated, evidenced by his comments after United’s first league game of the season against Leicester on Friday night.
The United boss said, “I think football is changing and probably football managers should be called head coaches. I think we are more the head coach than the manager.”
Clearly, the inability to capture a top centre-back has left Mourinho incredibly frustrated, and who can blame him?
United generate the most revenue of any football club in the world. Yet they haggle over prices for players like they have the budget of a Spurs or a Newcastle. It makes absolutely no sense, and to pretend everything is okay because they finished second last season is incredibly naive. United’s first choice fullbacks are Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, their former wingers!
They were moved back to save money. These players have a combined age of 66 and need replacing for United’s style of play to improve and to seriously contend for titles again. Knowing these owners though, it may be a while yet before that happens.
Looking to the Future
If history has taught us anything it’s that you cannot trust the Glazers. They have yet to deliver a squad capable of winning a title post-Ferguson and their inability to acquire top-class talent this past summer leaves a lot to be desired.
Next summer, United simply must replace Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. Both of whom are now well into their thirties. In addition to new fullbacks, United may need a new defensive midfielder and new right winger. Nemanja Matic will be 31 and is already becoming injured rather frequently.
Also, Juan Mata simply is not a right-winger. He doesn’t possess the pace, strength, or dribbling ability to succeed in that position. United must improve in these positions in order to close the gap on their rivals. And this is without mentioning that other teams will improve too.
If United want to win their first league title since 2013, they must buy top class, ready-made players that the manager desires.
The Last Word
The Glazer problem at Manchester United will stifle any manager who hopes to change the squad for the better. Anyone who is hired under their tenure will be subject to harsh restrictions and underwhelming support. Their penny pinching has hindered the progress of the club in the past and what we saw this past summer was more of the same.
So to all United fans, I say this. Stop falling out with each other over the manager, as you have a much bigger issue that needs addressing. These owners are killing your club, and as long as they are there, the Red Devils simply won’t be able to reach their full potential due to financial restrictions.
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