Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fergie deflects attention from real issues with withering attack on fans. It's a PR disaster and one that won't help United's latest IPO...

Things aren't going too well for Manchester United both on and off the pitch. Ferguson's shadow squad have just completed the first-leg of the 2012 summer tour in South Africa, with two unconvincing performances.

Off the pitch, the Glazer family are in the process of making their third attempt to launch an IPO (Initial Public Offering), this time on the New York Stock Exchange. The previous two attempts to sell shares in the club in South East Asia failed miserably and if we are to believe reports from across the pond, the proposed NYSE IPO could also suffer the same fate due to lack of interest.

This latest IPO will not be helped by Ferguson's stinging attack on large sections of United's supporter base who oppose the Glazer family. For the record, United didn't have a penny of debt prior to the 2005 Glazer family takeover - since then over £500m has been drained out of club coffers to pay swinging interest payments. The Glazer family borrowed over £500m to fund their heavily leveraged acquisition of United - this debt has been transferred onto Manchester United. Despite paying out over £500m in interest payments and charges, after seven years, those debts are still in the region of £430m. 

With concerns that Ferguson needed to add quality to his squad this summer in order to compete with Manchester City and that the manager is being hampered by the club's financial position, no wonder supporters have genuine concerns about the long-term well being of Manchester United.

It's also worth noting that even the Glazer family have now tacitly admitted that they want to reduce these mountainous debts - that is the stated intention behind this latest IPO. The NYSE IPO prospectus  highlighted that debt could hinder the club if left unchecked. Let us also not forget what United CEO David Gill, famously said in 2004 - "Debt is the road to ruin".   

Ferguson was ill advised to deliver what will be interpreted as an attack on many of the club's supporters; as far as market analysts are concerned, this verbal volley may well be viewed as yet another "red flag" and it could well be another reason not to buy into this latest IPO.

It's worth asking why Ferguson chose to deliver this stiff rebuke to the anti-Glazer movement: was it to deflect attention away from the fact that his squad needs strengthening, and because the manager doesn't have the funds at his disposal? Yet if we believe Ferguson, the Glazer family are "great owners" and they have always supported him in the transfer market. 

No matter what Fergie says about the Glazer family - talk is cheap. It is now seven years since Roy Keane was sent on his way, despite continuing to win silverware, United haven't come close to finding a suitable long-term replacement. 

Earlier this week, Ferguson suggested that Michael Carrick will be the key man for United this coming season. This blog takes no pleasure in putting down our own players, but Carrick isn't even an England regular. He has failed to cement a regular starting place in the England team. In the eyes of many observers, Carrick is a 'poor-man's' Pirlo. It wasn't that long ago that Carrick fell out of favour with Ferguson;  he was in and out of the team amidst talk of a possible departure. Admittedly, Carrick played very well for United last season - but as we all too painfully saw against Barcelona in those one-sided Champions League Finals he desperately needs help in the engine room.

Ferguson may well have signed Japanese star Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell, but both lack Premier League experience and it remains to be seen how well they will fit into the United squad and what part they will play, but neither are seasoned box-to-box midfield generals.

Over the weekend, Ferguson gave us a lamentable excuse for United's awful Champions League failings last season. According to the manager, he 'made too many changes'. Ferguson used to be known as "Tinkerbell" due to his continual tinkering with his team, but over the years his squad rotation system has paid dividends, most famously with the all conquering 1999 treble winning side. Ferguson' assertion that United's failings last season were down to too many changes will only fool the deluded and the blinkered.

United are in serious danger of being left behind by big spending Manchester City. Ferguson continues to paper over of the cracks by asking veterans Scholes and Giggs to carry the team. By his own admission, City are signing players who are in the right age bracket, the ones with experience aged between 25 and 27. Fergie says that City don't have any over 30 year-old's in their squad, he also questions their youth policy. In contrast, Fergie says that 31 year-old Michael Carrick will be United's 'key man' this season...

The United manager can point fingers at City when questioning their policy on signings, but it's beginning to sound like sour grapes. As Fergie well knows, and as Arsenal fans have found out to their cost, principles don't always win prizes...

This blog fully supports Ferguson the manager and his team - we don't support the man and there is a difference. We applaud the manager's stance on signing young players and turning them into superstars. We don't not support the Glazers' and like many fans' we want to see that huge debt mountain wiped out.

Ferguson has worked near miracles with a limited budget at his disposal and despite doing the job magnificently, albeit with one hand tied behind his back, you have to wonder how much longer United will continue to get away with it.


  1. Fergie has been telling us for years there is no value in the market, yet previous to 2005 we found the money to pay £29m for Rooney, and a similar amount for Rio, pre Glazer we bought Veron for a whopping fee as well.
    Yet post Glazer we have been limited to a apend of around £50m a year, and most years considerably less has been spent, the cracks are beginning to show as our better players age.
    Fergie can say what he likes, I was supporting United when he was a nobody at Aberdeen, he has the fans to thank for not being shown the door in 86, and this is how he repays us.

    1. You are preaching to the converted. Very disappointed in SAF, but it's no great surprise is it? Personally was supporting United for nigh on 20 years before he arrived and will be still supporting the club long after he's gone.

  2. You can't blame the Glazers for Ferguson's failure to sign a replacement for Keane. He's spent plenty of money on other positions in the team that were less important. He could have bought a top midfielder for the money he spent on Berbatov.

    Of cour United can't outspend teams financed by generous billionaires. We have never spent on that scale, nor have we ever needed to.

    1. Fergie is the manager, he is responsible for signings. The Glazers are the owners, if they don't give the manager the necessary funds to his job, then the whole things starts to go pear shaped - that is the big danger. To clarify, Keane left in 2005 and yes, I do blame Fergie for not finding a long term successor.

  3. But I don't think Ferguson is attacking the fans and I don't think he is trying to deflect attention from the "real issues" whatever they are.

    The key comment from that interview for me was when he said that the Glazers understood that money needed to be invested in the team in order to protect their investment in the club. A successful team is in their interest too. It amazes me that so many fans don't get this and assume the Glazers are happy for the club to fail.

    We spent a lot last summer and it looks like we will again this summer. It wouldn't surprise me if we got title number 20 next season. Why all the negativity?

    1. That interview was very damaging in more ways than one. If Fergie doesn't buy a first class central midfield player United will be lucky to finish within 10 points of City.


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