Sir Alex Ferguson: Glazer Puppet? Or Playing The Long Game?


By Mr. Grant

Sir Alex Ferguson’s apparent “defence” of the Glazer family continues to divide the Manchester United support, and, following his latest offering, there is an increasing sense of vitriol and opposition among factions of the fans. The opposition comes from all manner of our fan-base; from those with a genuine sense of hurt and confusion; to those with a voice who perceive their opposition to SAF as something of a status symbol which places them on a higher intellectual plan to the rest of us; which elevates them above us because they are not “sheep” willing to accept, but they are “brave” and “big enough” to challenge and criticise, to the point where, that urge to stand out with a critique evolves in to a warped obsession (I could name names, but…). SAF is not above criticism, far from it, but he deserves far more than the contempt and delusional ranting of a support to whom he has given so much. And I’m sure that in writing this I “risk” being labelled the very kind of blind sheep some are so quick to brand anyone who might vest their energy in defence of Ferguson, but by whom? Those whose ranting is underpinned by a nonsensical and delirious urge to criticise Ferguson, irrespective of circumstances or the situation? Well, I care not what branding may be bestowed upon me by the unhinged.

I find the short sighted nature of those quick to persecute Ferguson for his public position on the Glazer family and their stewardship of the club, nothing but galling. And this is not because I’m a Glazer advocate; I am anything but. It is only by the genius of Ferguson that the Glazer family have not wrought disaster on our club and the day when they are banished cannot come quickly enough. The debt burden imposed by their take-over, and the well documented costs that we, as a club, must pay and sacrifice to what will likely be the end to which they aim; that they walk away with a gross profit, into their American sunset, disgusts me. The club has shipped £500million in interest payments, bond buybacks and so forth, simply in order to fund their stewardship, and as has been documented once and a million times over, that money could, and should have been invested directly into the playing staff, from the top end down. Indeed, were it not for the Glazers, then United would likely be the only club on the planet capable of matching anything spent by a City, Chelsea or PSG, but only, doing so within their means and while doing so, continuing to turn out a profit. The size of the club is staggering. As such, the question begs, how good might things be, or have been in recent years (putting trophies won to one side), were it not for the Glazers? In truth, looking back we’ll never know, and it’s a tragedy which is marred even more so by the fact that it has left Ferguson, in his twilight years, fighting the emergence of the billionaire clubs with their billionaire owners seriously curtailed, with one hand firmly tied behind his back. It is down solely to the genius of the man that United have continued to prosper in spite of the constraints imposed upon him, and the club, by the Glazer ownership.

Which takes me full circle, back to Ferguson. Do those so quick to seize on Ferguson’s every word when he delivered his latest public “support” to the Glazer family, with the vitriol of rabid dogs, really believe that Ferguson is happy with the position that they, as owners, have inflicted upon the club? Do they really believe that here, at the sunset of a glittering career, he is content that the club can no longer compete, financially, at the top table, and not because it’s incapable, but because of the nature of the constraints placed upon it by its owners? Do they really believe that he’s happy to be fighting these emerging multi-billionaire forces constrained and hamstrung? Do they really believe that Ferguson is happy with what the Glazer family have done to the club? That he’s “sold out”. They believe it? Really? I mean… really? Because if so, well, then the inability to look beyond what the man says publicly and frame it against the context of this bigger picture is quite staggering. I would take those fans (and fans who care they me be), and file them swiftly under a category reading “moronic ineptitude ”.

The same moronic ineptitude which has drummed up a number of laughable conspiracy theories, which include the notion that the Ferguson position is in order to protect his £6.5million per annum salary. I find it incomprehensible that anyone, far less the United support, would believe that a man who has achieved so much and who lives and breathes the club and the game, would, in the twilight of his career, be more concerned with raking in a few more coin than he would the club. He does not need the money. He’s earned more than he’ll ever need. It’s lunacy, it’s laughable and it’s an insult.

But this is just one of a number of theories which seek to both rationalise and castigate the Ferguson position which, when challenged, do not hold sway. I have yet to see one theory which stands firm against any form of rational assessment and which can’t be easily dismantled. Another one: “Ferguson favours the retention of the Glazer ownership over the half £billion debt and the serious constraints this places upon the club and its and his ability to compete, because <drum roll> the Glazers do not meddle in transfer selection or team selection (ala Roman, down at Stamford Bridge).” This, I would contend, goes beyond the ridiculous to the ludicrous, to the point that it doesn’t warrant response.There can never be a case of “better the devil you know”, when the devil you know brings with it such immoral tyranny as the Glazers in my opinion.

We also have those calling for Ferguson to publicly challenge the Glazers; to open fire with a hail of criticism; to attack and to oppose; to lead a fans revolt. First, what other support expects its manager to lead a public revolt versus its owners? None. It’s unheard of. It is, again, ludicrous. Why? Because there would only be one winner. Ferguson is in no position to challenge the Glazers and emerge victorious. He is in no position to sink their regime or to force a sale. They are not Martin Edwards. There is no Board behind him. The Glazers run the Board. If Ferguson was to publically oppose them and enter in to open warfare, then given his end is near in any case, and given the total control they have over the club, he would most likely be gone. The club would be thrown in to turmoil and no matter the net effect, the damage would be near catastrophic. If he spoke out now, what damage might that cause to the IPO, a move which, like it or not, has been designed specifically to ease the debt burden in order to increase our ability to compete? To what end would an SAF revolt bring us? Would it force a Glazer sale? Given the size of the club and the money it generates? Absolutely no chance. It may be damaging, but it would not be a terminal blow to the Americans. The club, with the Glazers, would go on, only perhaps with a genuine “yes man” in place instead of SAF. And one which, as with nearly all other humans on the planet, would not be able to deliver the success that Ferguson has, with the constraints imposed upon him by the Glazers. And so, at best, the club would be on the slide, perhaps going full circle, back to whence we came pre-Ferguson, or akin to that, to an end like Liverpool. Look at them now. And so for Ferguson, the only way to fight this enemy is from within. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and play the long game because the Glazers will not be going anywhere any time soon.

And thus my position on this is clear; Ferguson offers public support to the Glazer family for good reasons, and these are good reasons which, framed against the backdrop of the Glazer business model are effectively self-sacrificial and which are focused on the short, medium and longer-term health of the club. His latest offering was delivered, without doubt, in order to aide a successful IPO. If the IPO is a success, the debt burden will be significantly reduced and with it, the United ability to compete for top players and for major trophies will be significantly enhanced. This is for the good of Manchester United, Glazers or no Glazers. A man in Ferguson’s position, with his stature and legend, speaking out in support of the Glazer family and their running of the club can only aide a successful IPO, which again, is crucial to United. Ferguson knows this. And to this end, he is willing to risk the wrath of a fractured support because, in the grand scheme of things, he has said what he has said ultimately, for the greater good of Manchester United with a long-term view of re-placing it back to the position where it belongs; competing at the top, as the best, with the rest of the best, for the biggest prizes in our beautiful game, WITHOUT CONSTRAINT. Ferguson is playing the long game here, even if he as an individual does not have long left. His life is Manchester United and he is willing to be seen to be opposing the support, irrespective of what that support then thinks of him, if to an end that ultimately benefits the club. It is not rocket science.

This, of course, is just my view, and hey, it may be skewed by my heritage as an Aberdonian Red whose first football memories were of Ferguson leading an Aberdeen team to European glory, but I would stand this logic against anything I’ve seen which might oppose it to date and be clear in my conviction that this rationale is not just prevalent, but it is correct. SAF is one of us, and, while he may have many facets we do not like, and while he may not be the best at articulation, and while he may make mistakes, he has a plan for the good of us all, for the good of the club, and he deserves infinitely better than some of the bile currently thrown his way by the United support.

The inglorious end.

Mr. Grant. Aberdeen Red. Blind Sheep.

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  1. We'llneverdie on

    Brilliant piece, by far the most educated view I have read on the current situation in a long time.

  2. Sir, I salute you. Without doubt one of the more insightful articles I have read and one I completely agree with. I cannot for the life of me see how Sir Alex speaking out against the owners would ever help the club. He is a total legend and at best it would lead to a very short, fractured atmosphere, which would turn to poison when he was shown the door. We all know he would be, the Glazers OWN the club. They could sack him on gross misconduct and nobody could do anything about it.

    He has been at the club for almost as long as I can remember. I remember Big Ron, and then Fergie. I am very privileged and lucky to have been born when I was and the man lives and breathes the club… it is why every other fan hates him so much. He is a genius, loyal, Mr Man Utd. I doubt very much he is happy at the moment, but he is a bigger man than these so called fans and an utter professional. I know I have had to stand up in front of clients and do some very fast talking to save my employers ass. You do it for the greater good of the company and because of your own personal ethics.

    Like them or hate them, the Glazers own the club. For the club to be successful, the Glazers need to make money and vice versa. The IPO will shed debt, make us more competitive and allow them to take out more money in dividends. They have a very strong argument for it when other shareholders are expecting reasonable dividends themselves and can claim they are only taking a fair amount.

    So am I surprised Fergie is playing the long game? Not in the slightest. However his autobiography in a few years will probably enlighten many people… if the club are on a firmer footing by the time he calls a day.

  3. I honestly think Fergie is playing it smart. He is the master of mind games, saying what he needs people to hear rather than what he feels.

    The Glazers have backed him in everything or anyone he wanted to sign without question?

    By releasing this statement it will make it more difficult to the Glazers to say no when the time comes!

  4. an excellent read. since fergies comments i have read some comments from some sections of united support which are beyond belief. one going as far as calling him an old fool! fergie is no fool.

  5. Alfonso Bedoya on


    An awful lot of criticism for anyone who dares to have lost faith in our great Fergie… even uses the term “moronic ineptitude”… and uses it very badly in my opinion… but the defence of Fergie is based on nothing more than the writers “opinion”, that Fergie is too wonderful to be such a self serving ****!

    The “FACTS” suggest otherwise… Ferguson has made his bed with the Glazers… only he knows why… but in doing so, and with the unwavering support that he’s given them, he’s turned his back on all but the most naive of United fans… those who don’t give a shit what the Glazers do with our club… and it should be no surprise that those “moronic ineptitudes” have turned their backs on him

  6. Thank you Alfonso. I’m sure I mentioned your type somewhere within the first paragraph. And there is an certain irony in somebody dismissing an article as nothing more than the writers opinion, while at the same time, asserting his critique as “my opinion”. Maybe I should dismiss your raving on the same basis? But aside from that little gaffe…

    The only “fact” you can present in relation to SAF “defence” of Glazers is that he has publically defended them. As you yourself then state “only he knows why”. But you can’t give any rationale for that, can you? The article argues, quite clearly, that only a moron would truly believe that SAF is happy with what the Glazers are doing to the club. I don’t think that can be questioned. Do you genuinely believe he is happy to be hamstrung in the transfer market? To watch over half a billion £ flow out of the club as he nears towards the end of a glorious reign? Effectively left handicapped when fighting emerging billionare clubs, like City, no less. Do you GENUINELY believe he’s happy with that? Really? Then, sir, you are, in my opinion (back to opinions again), a moron. That is incredibly niaive. READ BETWEEN THE LINES.

    As the article states, he is doing the best job he can (meaning the best possible job anyone bar a very select few in world football could do) in these circumstances and any position he takes publically will be taken for reasons which best serve the club and that would be, at this moment in time, under these circumstances, short to mid-term.

    Indeed, I would ask again, what would you have SAF do? He is in no position to publically challenge the Glazers. He is in no position to force a sale. Any public opposition or campaign versus the Glazers would end one way, and he’d be out the door. They have complete control. They run the club. They own the club. They care not what the fans think – at all. So what would you have him do? Resign? And then what? They appoint some two-bit manager who would not come close to delivering the the success in the circumstances he has. And they’d still be there. But things would be worse. So I ask again, as you rant and rave, Fergie this, Fergie that, what would you have him do? What is your end goal here? WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

    Call it ineptitude – an inability to see the bigger picture. Call it moronic. Call it both – moronic ineptitute. Call it Alfonso Bedoya. Good bye for now.

  7. He speaks out about himself and his reputation but has nothing to say about the split of the IPO that would result in a huge inflow into the Glazers coffers and only £73 million going to Utd. Like you stated earlier, Fergie has the club at heart why no mention of this? Is this not relevant when talking about the IPO or is it better to speak to the press in order to get your reputation enhanced. I’m not saying that he should have slated the Glazers but something along the lines of…”it would have been great if more money was going into the debt repayment…” is not exactly over the top. He has plenty to say regarding “real fans” and how great they are but says absolutely nothing about that cash split in the IPO.

  8. Alfonso Bedoya on

    Mate… I can’t be arsed to argue with you… you don’t need me to tell you what, “I would have SAF do?”… you already know… and your answer to that, is to repeat that same ridiculous, sycophantic nonsense over and over… “how dare we criticise the Great One”…

    I will say this for you though… you’re very good at taking a short paragraph of, what is essentially … “you and your kind are ungrateful, “moronic ineptitudes”, who don’t deserve to worship at the feet of Sir Alex Ferguson”… and turn it into a tedious, over long rant, full of repetitive sentiments, flawed logic, and strangely worded insults… well done for that.

    Now, let’s see you permit that, in your pissy little blog.

  9. Ted, at what point have I defended the Glazers? I am as much LUHG as the next fan. A very obvious anti-Glazer agenda is the common ground shared by all United fans and anyone who cares about the club. Sadly, it has become popular among an unhinged and deluded faction of the support to associate anyone defending Ferguson to be pro-Glazer, which is ridiculous, and to demonise Ferguson, to the point where many appeared near devestated yesterday by the contents of his statement. What’s that all about? Absolute nuggets.

    Alfonso, when somebody appears incapable of even a basic understanding of straightforward rationale and logic, the need for repitition becomes evident, though sadly, it would wash over anyone with such a warped one track agenda. I also note that you failed to answer any of the questions posed. That’s because you don’t really have an answer, do you? Or at least, nothing which extends beyond “Fergysun a traitor! Fergysun should say bad fings about Glazers. Me real fan. Die Glazer Die”. And so on, and so forth. Anyway, must dash, have a nice weekend.

  10. Alfonso Bedoya on

    Bloody hell, it’s like arguing with Bart Simpson… what next pal?… “eat my shorts?”

    “Fergysun”? “bad fings”?… what the hell is that gibberish?… you spend so much effort trying,(and failing) to sound clever, that you don’t seem to realize, that you’re making a fool of yourself.

    You wrote this article, and therefore opened yourself up to criticism of your opinion… and your arrogant opinion, is that anyone who’s got the gall to criticise Ferguson, is a moron.

    And this is your reasoning…

    “And thus my position on this is clear; Ferguson offers public support to the Glazer family for good reasons, and these are good reasons which, framed against the backdrop of the Glazer business model are effectively self-sacrificial and which are focused on the short, medium and longer-term health of the club. His latest offering was delivered, without doubt, in order to aide a successful IPO. If the IPO is a success, the debt burden will be significantly reduced and with it, the United ability to compete for top players and for major trophies will be significantly enhanced.”

    That’s a hell of a statement, with absolutely nothing factual to back it up… just your opinion, your assertion that this is how it is… and it’s complete nonsense.

    The Glazers are trying to raise roughly £300m with this, their latest scam… and the bulk of it is going right into their pockets… of the rest, only £75m is expected to go towards the debt, and the math shows, that will reduce our yearly interest payments by £5m.

    That’s just swell… isn’t it?… good thing we’ve got Fergie looking out for us.

    There are much smarter financial people than you or I, that have had a long hard look at this proposal, and can’t see a significant upside for the club… just a winfall for the Glazers.

    And Ferguson sings their praises.

    And you’ve got the stones to call fans, “morons”, because they’re getting pissed off.

  11. or maybe you’re all clutching at straws. There is indeed a possibility that fergie is just being completely honest.

    All he’s said is that the owners have supported him fully in whatever he needed (eg. rooney on bench for contract row) and that there has always been money available.

    Now look at the reality. it appears this season that fergie’s gonna spend (or at least has available to spend) some real big bucks, kagawa, powell, moura and VP, maybe even baines. now it seems that he has the cash to buy these players broadly, and that the negotiating is on terms.

    All this transfer activity at the same time when there isnt the city-chelsea moneypit flying around as in the past few years.

    Perhaps the reality is this: when fergie has problems the glazers back him, when he asks for cash they give it to him, he wasnt buying in the bull markets of the past because he really didint see the value, perhaps now the bears are being bulled by uefa hes actually seeing some value, and perhaps none of these conspiracy theories (cus that’s what they are either pro-fergie or anti) are just imagination?

    just a crazy thought, but this is based on reality, assuming that all public sentiment from those involved is true, and doesn’t require any speculation at all!

    • Alfonso Bedoya on

      Relative to the other “big teams”, we haven’t spent much yet… and Moura and van Percie look less likely to join us every day that passes… just like last year… bookies stopped taking bets on Sneijder signing, but when the crunch came, we couldn’t make it happen… and the “Grants” all started bleating, “he wanted too much money”, and “glad we didn’t waste the money”…

      Before the Glazers came, Ferguson regularily broke the Premier league transfer record to bring in who ever he wanted, even duds like Veron… since the Glazers, his favourite saying is, “there’s no value in the market”… and fans like you and Grant just keep making excuses for what to everyone else, is smack in the face obvious! The Glazer ownership is hampering United in the transfer market… it’s quite simply a fact! And Ferguson lies to the fans to defend the Glazers plans.

      Wake the f*ck up and have a sniff… if it looks like $hit, and smells like $hit… then maybe it really is $hit!

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