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Malcolm In The Middle

The fans may not like it, but Malcolm Glazer may be Manchester United’s best hope of catching Chelsea next season, says Tony Cascarino

Tony Cascarino, 05 May 2005

Maybe I’m missing something, but the fans’ opposition to Malcolm Glazer taking over at Manchester United seems to boil down to one thing – he’s American! I honestly think that if his name was Oglazervich and he’d made his money in the Russian oilfields, those same supporters would be outside Old Trafford now demanding that the board accept his offer.

I heard the same, “He doesn’t understand our game”, arguments two-years ago when Roman Abramovich took over at Chelsea and now you’d be lynched if you said anything negative about him in South-West London.

What it boils down to is a fear of the unknown, and not appreciating what Malcolm Glazer’s achieved in America. When he bought the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 1995 they were worth $195 million. Eight years and a Superbowl win later, they were valued at $671 million, which is a 300% return on his investment. This is a man who wants to make money by winning things, not asset stripping.

What is damaging to Manchester United is that until the matter’s resolved, Alex Ferguson can’t be active in the transfer market. If you look at Man U’s successes, they always came on the back of Alex signing players for what at the time was a record British transfer fee. United’s chances of winning the Premiership without bringing in the modern day Roy Keane, Gary Pallister or Steve Bruce are neglible. Ten years ago if Alex had wanted Steven Gerrard he’d have got him, whereas now he’s third or fourth in the queue.

The other problem he has at the moment is Rio Ferdinand. Does he say, “This is what we’re prepared to pay, take it or leave it”, or do whatever it takes to keep him at Old Trafford? If Man U were winning things I’d say the latter, but they’re not and you can’t be handing out a hundred and fifty grand a week to one player when there’s serious squad rebuilding to be done.

What I don’t buy is that Rio “owes” United because of the way they “stood by him” during his nine-month suspension. If it had been someone like Nicky Butt, or Louis Saha now, who wasn’t so crucial to the team, they wouldn’t have waited around for him. There’s no loyalty in football, just expediency.

The other big debate this week is whether Everton or Liverpool should get the fourth Champions’ League spot. Overlooking the fact that neither of them has actually achieved the required objective yet, I have to say “Everton” because at the moment that’s the rule.

David Moyes could argue with some justification that the only reason they splashed out £6 million on James Beattie is because they’re chasing fourth place. Knowing it would take third to get them into the qualifying round, they may have spent their money differently.

On the promotion front, it’s “well done” to my old Ireland teammate Mick McCarthy for winning the Championship with Sunderland. When you consider that they were rumoured to be £40 million in debt when he took over, what he’s achieved there is incredible. It’s certainly one in the eye for Eamon Dunphy who has a bee in his bonnet about Mick. I remember Dunphy as a journalist saying that he could beat Mick McCarthy over a certain distance, and then having to hand over money when they had the race and Mick wiped the floor with him. Even if he wins the Premiership, Eamon Dunphy will never admit that Mick McCarthy is a good manager.

It’s interesting that of all the ‘80s and ‘90s Ireland players who went into management, Mick and David O’Leary are the only ones who’ve really established themselves. Liam Brady, Ronnie Whelan, Ray Houghton and John Aldridge all gave it a shot, but soon discovered that it’s a bloody hard job and not always a well-paid one. I was sounded out 18 months ago about managing a Championship side, did my sums and discovered I’d be earning £30,000 less a year than I’m getting now for my media work. Add in long hours, the abuse that comes your way when things aren’t going well and the lack of job security, and you can understand why a lot of ex-pros give it a go and then say “Never again!”

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