peterbirks: (Default)
As I expected the second that Andy Ward said that Chelsea were the nap of the day at 8-to-11 to beat Manchester United, Chelsea appear to be heading for defeat. Personally, I hardly ever bet odds-on. "Back the better team that's getting points" is a good principle. So this was a no-bet game.

But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about the troubles at Manchester United. Me being me, this is not, of course, anything football-related. In the immortal words of Tessio in The Godfather, "tell Mike it was strictly business".

The Big Book of Football Managers' Clich├ęs contains some classic one-liners (although not many one-worders; the best of these surely being Gordon Strachan's response to a reporter's request for a quick word. "Velocity", said our Gordon, before departing apace) and one of these is surely "No player is bigger than the club".

Unfortunately, in the case of Manchester United, this may not be true. The team's tour of the far east last summer, sans David Beckham, was poorly attended. Now it appears that shirt sales are falling as well and, most worryingly, a survey by a branding company found that 30% of "fans" now followed players rather than teams.

Manchester United will always fill their own ground, but that is a snippet of global income. No longer will 80,000 people be willing to watch a friendly in Singapore where the goalkeeper plays at centre-forward. The brand, as they say, is not what it was.

I suspect that Glazer may have taken the company private at just the wrong time.


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