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Stars And Gripes

Tony Cascarino: While Manchester United fans protest at Malcolm Glazer's take-over, one of their most celebrated old boys has performed a miracle at West Brom

Tony Cascarino, 20 May 2005

I’m all for fans caring about their clubs and having a say, but the reaction to Malcolm Glazer taking over at Manchester United has been totally ridiculous.

To turn round and say like the Shareholders United group have that “They may have to draft in the army to police the Cup Final” is, at best, stupid and, at worst, an incitement to violence.

I said it two weeks ago, and I’ll say it again now – Malcolm Glazer wouldn’t be getting half the flak he’s getting now if he wasn’t American. So what if he’s not fully au fait with the off-side rule? He’s demonstrated by acquiring a 75% stake in Man U that he’s an astute businessman, and an astute businessman knows that the best way to make money out of a club is to be successful on the pitch.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if Roman Abramovich had taken over two years ago at Old Trafford, there’d have been the same bleating from fans as there is now. I bet you a penny to a pound, if Manchester United win the league next season, they’ll be waving the Stars & Stripes and chanting “There’s only one Malcolm Glazer!”

Being opposed to the takeover is one thing, but burning effigies of a man they don’t even know outside Old Trafford, and threatening John Magnier and JP McManus with all sorts because they offloaded their shares amounts to mob hysteria. It’s like the tiny percentage of people in the anti-foxhunting movement who give their cause a bad name by vandalising property and scuffling with police. They’re not level-headed people with a gripe, they’re idiots.

One of the complaints is that he’s going to put ticket prices up. Well, given that United fans pay half what Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham pay to see their team, I don’t see much harm in that. Wayne Rooney didn’t cost half what Didier Drogba did because his side are based in the North-West. When something’s the hottest show in town, like United have been for the past 15 years, you pay accordingly.

As for doing an AFC Wimbledon and entering FC United in the North West Counties League, good luck! I can’t imagine too many of the Old Trafford faithful wanting to swap top of the table clashes with Chelsea for tricky away trips to Skelmersdale United.

Or, come to that matter, blood and thunder Cup Finals against Arsenal! Being their only chance of silverware this season, both teams are going to be up for it to the point where I’ll be shocked if there’s not at least one sending off. There’s always a rivalry between top teams, but in Arsenal and Manchester United’s case it’s developed into out and out hatred. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect we’re going to see fists and elbows flying at the Millenium Stadium. As for who’ll win, United know more than any other club how to unsettle Arsenal and break-up their game. Given how desperate they are to atone for coming third in the Premiership, I’m tipping Sir Alex’s boys to nick it.

Meanwhile, one of their old boys, Bryan Robson, can be very proud of the job he’s done at West Brom. The media went for him a bit when he was at Middlesbrough, but I thought he did a decent job of putting an unfashionable club on the map. Given that they were bottom when he took over, he’s up there with David Moyes and Sam Allardyce as one of the managers of the season. Of course, the Baggies staying up meant relegation for Nigel Worthington who’s done a fabulous job at Norwich and Iain Dowie who coaxed some marvellous performances out of his players, but couldn’t do anything about Crystal Palace’s smart arse of a chairman Simon Jordan. He’s full of talk and big ideas, but refused Iain Dowie the couple of million that would have brought Tim Cahill to Selhurst Park before Everton snapped him up. If West Ham are unsuccessful in the play-offs, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dowie, as an ex-Hammers player, takes-over. Give him a decent budget and he’ll win things for you.

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