by Simon Bailey
My mum hates football.
She loves racing, athletics, tennis, snooker, rugby, just not football. But within her dislike of football is her loathing of anything Manchester United.
Even as a dedicated non supporter of football, my mum, I am proud to say, is an ABU. Anyone but united. Whilst they were capturing the Asian markets and building their global brand and bank balance, back home they were the team we all wanted to see lose. Except for the United fans themselves of course.
But while the groundswell of public opinion was undeniably anti-United, the press were always friendly to the point of obsequiousness. United and their British manager and players could do no wrong. The water had been walked on.
Now that United are in decline in terms of global brand and bank balance, Arsenal have emerged as a club with a very good global profile, and a very healthy financial situation. The appointment of Gazidis was inspired and things are so finely tuned that the current membership of the board and shareholders are poised to rebuff any potential hostile takeover.
As United were building their brand, they inevitably did it on the back of good performances on the field and league tables. This is the yeast that rose their bread. Sold out fixtures every week and a unified fan base that loved everything about their club completed the list of ingredients.
If we visit the United bakery today, we can see that many of the ingredients needed are out of stock. There is no doubting their position in the league right now, but their onfield performances have been nothing short of woeful. Rooney aside. Yes, the measure of a good team is to grind out results regardless of how well the game was played, but there is no doubt that they are a shadow of their former selves.
As for sold out grounds and fan unity and complacency, it’s all too obvious that the fans really hate the Glazers and tickets at United have never been so easy to get hold of. There’s a report in the press today that they are now doing telephone selling of unsold tickets to fans.
Back in London, things are looking rosier . It’s true that there are empty seats at the Emirates sometimes, and that there is a section of our support who do not support, but unlike at United our lot are the minority and they’re wrong. Whilst our D and Gers are unquestionably lunatics, the equivalent bunch at Manchester United have plenty of reasons to be worried. 710 million to be precise.
The British press have a long tradition of building up celebrity only to knock it down at the most unfortunate moment. Almost every famous person or organisation has been held on the pedestal until a suitably juicy story comes along.
They are also fiercely patriotic. The Scottish press slagging the English, the Welsh press slagging the English, the Irish press slagging the English, and the English slagging everybody especially if you have to go by boat or plane to get there.
So the pendulum has swung. Arsenal are now the football model to be envied and emulated. Our refusal to waste untold cash, our resistance to boardroom change coupled with exquisite on field performances and positive results have made Arsenal the latest darling of the press. No hint of financial doping, transfer irregularities, tax avoidance or off field embarrassment. The spot on that pedestal is ours.
Except that it isn’t. And never will be.
The way things have been going, and they look set to continue, it looks like the Arsenal aren’t going to put a foot wrong. We may lose a few, get knocked out of some competitions, and not be top the league, but this is no longer enough for the press to whip us with. After all, it’s been their line for years now.
And this is the point. Where was our build up? All I can remember is the press knocking chunks out of us for years now. This season it’s been Eduardo diving, Chelsea leading us by 11 points and now Gallas and his evil boots.
We have to face the reality that the reality that the press portrays is not our reality. They are never going to like us, especially while we balance the books, employ so many foreigners and play such beautiful football.
The answer then is simple. Let’s be more like United.
Just do it will you?
(Sorry I read the article and started to morph into a Man U steward. – Tony)