Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward is back from his holidays and getting stuck into signing some top class players – or at least trying to give the impression that he is.
But he’s going to have to pull off some impressive deals – much better than his record suggests he is capable of – to please many United fans.
Because, in case you haven’t noticed, quite the protest campaign has been building while he’s been away.
Fans who are unhappy with the way the club is being run have been making their voices heard on social media protesting against the club’s owners.
They have been deleting the club’s app, cancelling their subscriptions to MUTV and boycotting the club’s ‘commercial partners’.
Last Wednesday, the hashtag #GlazersOut trended globally on Twitter and fans are going to try to do it again on Wednesday 26th June at 20.05pm – the year the Glazers took over the club.
Paddy Crerand’s live fan phone in on MUTV was cancelled last night, presumably to prevent unhappy fans calling in.
And the protest is moving into the real world on Saturday when there will be a protest outside the ground at 2pm.
Most fans are prepared to put up with the club’s owners as long as the team is doing well. They don’t expect to win trophies every year but they do expect to be competing for them. And they don’t expect to have to put up with the kind of abject performances they saw too often last season.
United were so poor for most of the season that fans expected the club to be busy in the transfer market over the summer. That hasn’t been the case, apart from the signing of Daniel James.
Some fans will be appeased by some decent signings. Neymar is the latest big name player to be linked with a move to the club in a straight swap for Pogba. The words frying pan and fire spring to mind.
But other fans aren’t going to be happy even if United sign Neymar, Mbappe, Messi and half the Ajax first team. Because the problems at the club aren’t just about the lack of transfer activity. It’s about the way the club is being run.
According to the press, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s transfer war chest is £100m – a pitiful sum in view of the state of the team and the fact that United are one of the world’s richest clubs. Money which should be spent on players is being taken out of the club – £1bn since the Glazers took over.
And there is still no sign of a director of football being appointed.
Those ‘at the top’ of our great club should be ashamed. The great shame is that they won’t be.
The way they are repeatedly able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is astonishing.
— antanddec (@antanddec) June 24, 2019
Yesterday, no sooner had Newcastle United announced that manager Rafael Benitez would be leaving the club than celebrity fans Ant and Dec went on social media urging owner Mike Ashley to “get out of our club”.
When it comes to celebrity fans, Manchester United probably have more than any other club in the country – if not the world.
But when it comes to backing the #GlazersOut campaign, they are keeping their heads down, with one notable exception – a well known actor from Salford.
If he can do it, why can’t the others?
The same goes for former players. Of the hundreds of former players who could speak out, only a handful have done so. Take a bow Willie Morgan, Lee Sharp, John O’Kane and Jules Maiorana. Otherwise, the silence is deafening.
If you’re one of those fans, celebrity or not, who isn’t behind the campaign, you might want to read Michael Tunstall’s article here.