Viet Nam News
by Paul Kennedy
I have no idea how much it would cost to rent an airplane. A small one, just for an hour or so. I’m guessing it would set you back a fair few đồng.
On Sunday a group of Manchester United fans decided to do just that. Not because they wanted to fly off to some exotic destination, instead they headed to Burnley.
For those of you not familiar with the Lancashire market town in the north west of England, Burnley is about as exotic as watching Fifty Shades of Grey with your mother.
The United fans hired the plane to fly a protest banner over Burnley’s Turf Moor Stadium as their team played below calling for the resignation of their Chief Executive Edward Woodward.
Don’t confuse this Edward Woodward with the actor of the same name who starred in the hit 1980s crime drama, The Equaliser – although there has been times this season when Manchester United would have given their right arm for an equaliser.
United’s Chief Executive is currently the prime target for abuse from a section of supporters who feel he is the person responsible for the poor start the Old Trafford team have had this season.
Sunday’s banner read: “Ed Woodward: A specialist in failure.”
This may well be the case, and maybe it is time for Ed to call it a day and step down but it’s not him who picks the team.
That’s Jose Mourinho’s job. And right now, I think ol’ Jose is loving, for once, the fact that the attention is not solely on him.
I like Mourinho, he’s a cool customer and has an amazing trophy collection having won titles in England, Italy and Spain.
But right now I feel Jose is perfectly playing the role of a politician. After losing 0-3 at home to Spurs, he stayed on the pitch and congratulated each player with high fives and handshakes before applauding the Old Trafford faithful as he headed down the tunnel.
And after their 2-0 victory at Burnley he actually climbed into the away end hugging supporters and gave away his water bottle and, bizarrely, his coat.
Jose is gaining the support of the people. He’s having a pop at the press on an almost daily basis and creating a real ‘us against them’ mentality at Old Trafford.
He’s a very clever bloke.
For me, what he’s managing to do is deflect the problems on the pitch away from him and his team and move them upstairs at the feet of the men in suits who run the club, in particular, Ed Woodward.
But is he really to blame?
Manchester United are an extremely successful football club, one of, if not the, biggest in the world and Ed’s job is to continue to make them a commercial success and profitable, which they are.
Where, to quote the banner flying from the back of the plane, he has failed is by not backing the manager in the transfer market.
Woodward’s first transfer window in 2013 was described as disastrous by the Daily Telegraph after they failed to sign a number of targets and bought the poodle-like Marouane Fellaini from Everton.
The following year manager Louis van Gaal complained United’s commercial activities could hamper the team’s success and this year a number of the manager’s transfer targets were reportedly vetoed by Woodward causing increasing tensions.
That being the case, Jose has to play with the hand he is dealt. He can’t buy anyone until January so he has to roll up his sleeves and get on with the job.
And as for the supporters, they too play a key role in United’s success. Flying protest banners over grounds is, in my opinion, pointless and a waste of money.
What they are better off doing is supporting their team through the good times and bad. And right now it’s about as bad as it gets. — VNS