Fellow IPE blogger Emmanuel and IPE@UNC have a strong rapport (I hope), forged from disagreeing about nearly everything, but he has sunk to a new low in his hatred of everything American: bashing the Glazer family, American owners of venerated English soccer team Manchester United:
Loyal Manchester United fans and Britons in general abhor the Glazers for being ugly Americans and, worse yet, debt-laden ugly Americans [is that redundant?] seemingly hellbent on ruining the finances of such a storied team. There has been a strong grassroots movement via the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) to throw out these Yankee bums.
Now, look. I'm a huge Liverpool supporter in the EPL. Huge. My wife has learned no to speak to me for at least a half hour after Liverpool has lost. My only sports passion stronger than Liverpool is St. Louis Cardinals baseball. (Full disclosure: This blog is divided: Alex is an Arsenal supporter. As far as I know, Dr. Oatley and Sarah have no affiliation.)
Liverpool and Manchester United are heated rivals, so I'm about to do something that I should never do: sing the praises of Manchester United. A Liverpool fan praising the Glazers is like a Red Sox fan saying good things about George Steinbrenner, and I truly hate doing it. But Emmanuel has brought out the nationalism in me -- which is very hard to do, I might add -- and I feel compelled to defend the American Glazers against his attacks. I've previously poked fun at the fact that Manchester United are now sponsored by the U.S. government (via AIG), but here's the thing: since the Glazers took over, debt or no debt, Manchester United has been remarkably successful. Here is Manchester United's list of accomplishments since the Glazer family took charge in 2005:
2005-06: FA Cup winners
2006-07: EPL winners
2007-08: EPL winners, UEFA Champions' League winners
2008-09: FIFA Club World Cup winners, Carling Cup winners, EPL winners, UEFA Champions' League runners-up
2009-10 (in progress): Carling Cup winners, possible EPL winners
Now I'd say that's a helluva record, considering that in the previous 5 years their total silverware was one FA Cup (2004) and one EPL championship (2002-03). Hmm... maybe all that American cash, even if serviced, has done some good for the team. Emmanuel decries the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, but ManU made a healthy sum on the deal: he was bought for £12.24mn, and sold for £80mn. I'd say a 650% profit, plus a closet-full of silverware in the meantime, is a good bit of business, wouldn't you?
Emmanuel wants to say that Barcelona is better-run. That may be. But Barcelona is also the best team in the world, an extreme outlier in every sense. You can't copy their model simply by booting the Americans out. It's just a touch more complicated than that.