Where were you on the evening of the 26th of June 2019? If you are a supporter of Manchester United, you were probably on Twitter, venting your frustrations at the Glazers with a hashtag like thousands of other like-minded reds were at the time. Or maybe you were arguing with those behind the protest instead on the same platform, with somebody who ended all of his tweets with “hope this helps”? Whatever your opinion was of the #glazersout protests in the summer, it was the biggest protest against the club’s ownership since 2010.
But just like in 2010 when slowly the scarves started being put back away in drawers, the hashtags and yellow and green emoji’s eventually retreated back to a strange corner of the internet. Like every protest against the glazers, this one didn’t work. Not only did it not work but it also caused more division and more anger between supporters. The toxicity that belonged on the terraces 20/30 years ago was now been replaced with someone calling you a glazer puppet over the internet, for disagreeing with you on a subject that you have probably been more involved with over time and know way more about.
Like any echo chamber, the glazer protesters didn’t want to hear why they were wrong and why it wasn’t going to work, they had formed a community which gave almost bot-like responses to anything that disagreed with them. The same statistics about debt and Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s win ratio as permanent manager were often thrown back at anyone that dared to question the tactics of those who had obviously organised protests before and were experts in how to find a buyer that had £4 billion spare in his back pocket.
MUST (the same organisation who were behind the protests in 2010) were also called out for staying silent on the matter as was this very site. #boycottfulltimedevils was growing amongst the “Love United, Hate Glazer” community as apparently we were employees of the club for not understanding that a hashtag will force the owners to sell the club.
The whole phrase of “Love United, Hate Glazer” had been completely hijacked from those who wanted to support the club but were angry at the owners. The anonymous accounts behind these protests didn’t love United. It was clear to see that from the start. Any opportunity to criticize Solskjær’s team selection or press conference got an aerosol thrown on the bonfire of people that supported the manager and didn’t change their profile picture to the other team that United was playing that weekend.
Match going fans were told by non-match goers that they were part of the problem for not singing anti-glazer songs and were scared of the club taking their season tickets from them. For a very brief period, the Luhger’s were kings of the United cyberspace. A caller on MUTV who called out the glazers and got cut off was supposed to be the turning point for the club getting nervous about the pressure from fans.
However, as we saw with 2010 and the Red Knights, pressure from fans is one thing but actually having someone to buy the club that has £4 billion pounds is a different issue. The club is well aware that some people are unhappy about the owners, some even took upon themselves to call United’s ticketing and membership number to sing ant-glazer songs down the phone. What they can do about it though? Realistically what power does a turnstile operator or the guy that sorts out your Euro away credits have over the club? None. They are employees and some have families and mortgages to fend for. You might not like your boss but would you actively take part in a protest that would get you sacked that you know wouldn’t work? Don’t lie, you wouldn’t.
Whilst United fans argued with each other and fans from other clubs laughed at our embarrassment of a fanbase at times, there was one lot who came out of this well. Fans of FC United of Manchester set up their own club in 2005 after they were frustrated with the Glazer takeover. This is a protest. Fans of FC have been there for 15 years and haven’t left even though United won a UEFA Champions League and got to three other European finals during their existence. They haven’t stopped once. It’s a protest against the Glazers not against the poor form of the club. That’s a big difference.
Since the summer, where have the hashtags and debt Jpegs gone? They’ve disappeared. Why’s that? Because United have started to pick up again and probably would’ve got a space in the Champions League next season.
Where were Mike and his merry bunch of men at the start of the 2014/15 season when Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay all joined the club? They weren’t there because they were happy with the signings. It’s only now when United need to have a solid two to three year period of trying to rebuild a young squad of players that they’ve started to get annoyed. Because according to some corners of Twitter, it’s just like FIFA. We can buy whoever we want, whenever and they’ll all fit into the squad perfectly and that’s how you run a football club.
As talk speculates about Newcastle United’s new Saudi owners, the cycle has begun again on twitter of United “fans” calling for the same country that is currently allegedly committing war crimes in Yemen and murdering journalists to buy United out. According to some of our “fans” on twitter, success is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter whether your owners have blood on their hands, being able to reply with ‘L’ to a Liverpool fan after we’ve beat them is the most important thing. Twitter bantz is more important than absolutely anything in the whole world according to some people.
United’s owners aren’t perfect, that’s something we can all simultaneously agree on. The club’s soul hasn’t been completely sold yet though. There are still some small glimpses that there’s some diamonds in the rough. Take Old Trafford’s signage being lit up to spell out NHS or the club not furloughing staff compared to it’s “socialist” rival over on the River Mersey.
These are small things, granted. Maybe it’s just blind optimism but it shows that there’s something there, that there are some people who still care and want to do the right thing. That maybe, the club is finally moving in the right direction again. Believe it or not, there are some good people that work for United. Not everyone is a greedy capitalist who buys sporting institutions that they don’t have the money for. Take those who work in ticketing that decided to compensate the United fans that had made the trip to Austria or Marcus Rashford and Odion Ighalo all donating to charities and helping those less fortunate in society out.
We might not win another title under the Glazers, they aren’t saviours by any means. That doesn’t mean that we can’t support the team and recognize when the club has made good efforts to help supporters out or when players support local charities. We may have bad owners but it could be a lot, lot worse.