Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time.More info
Manchester United and Liverpool have always been rivals on and off the field and any activity at the old arch-enemy will always be viewed through a United lens.
Both clubs have come under intense scrutiny in recent years due to their respective ownership models and it reached boiling point earlier this year after news broke that both teams were involved in the European Super League fiasco, with both sets of supporters making their voices heard in response.
If we had to compare the two, United’s fans’ protests ultimately proved more effective – and raucous. So much so that the Premier League fixture between the two teams was postponed last season because of people breaking into Old Trafford and demonstrating on the pitch.
The scenes that day were largely unprecedented and luckily the fans’ message to the owners got through as both clubs dropped out of the proposed breakout league.
But there was still a disgruntled atmosphere within the United fanbase because the fact the proposal came to be in the first place emphasised just how toxic the Glazer ownership has been since the family wrestled control of the club in 2005. Their absent ownership was the primary reason behind the protests in May.
The response was rewarding, but not enough.
Joel Glazer set up a fans forum meeting with all the main supporter groups of United’s following and spoke for the first time since he actually took over the club. That in itself was an indicator of the disillusionment fans feel towards him.
On top of that, there have been new fan-based initiative plans put in place, which offers supporters the opportunity to buy shares in the club and have voting rights on major decisions.
Recently, the club announced their intention to install floodlights and a new all-seater stand at their Carrington training complex as part of a facilities upgrade. They’ve also just given Old Trafford a much-needed paint job, just before the season started. But that is just the start of what is needed off the pitch.
On it, United have brought in high-quality recruits over the summer in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo to supplement a promising group of players in an attempt to make title challengers become title winners, though there remains an argument that this was primarily done to appease an increasingly apathetic fanbase.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival was the pinnacle of United’s recent transfer business More will be required to demonstrate that understanding of what fans truly want. And with United’s rivals making clear off-the-pitch improvements, it’s a timely reminder that no-one can rest on their laurels at United with Liverpool having just been given the green light to begin construction on their £60million Anfield Road stand expansion.
A ceremony is planned next week to start the redevelopment, which will see the capacity at Anfield increased by 7,000 to more than 61,000.
Liverpool last had work done on Anfield back in 2016, when they redeveloped the Main Stand and increased the capacity to 54,000. Certainly, they’ve been upgrading the stadium over the years.
United, on the other hand, last increased the capacity of Old Trafford as far back as 2006, which saw 8,000 seats with the addition of second tiers to both the north-west and north-east quadrants of the ground.
The fact that this happened over 15 years ago is another indication of how far United have fallen under the Glazer family and how their rivals have shown impressive foresight with issues at the club fans care deeply about.
FSG are not the perfect ownership model, far from it and Liverpool fans would attest to that. Indeed, this move may be solely seen as a move to placate supporters, but it has been well-received by supporters who demand more. At United, it increasingly feels like the owners are playing a catch-up game.
You may notice this piece of writing has been produced by a name you’re not familiar with on our regular Manchester United content.
That is because we are expanding our horizons and starting to bring even more to you from a whole host of different voices. We have appointed a whole host of people who – like our journalists – care deeply about what’s happening at Old Trafford – but sit in the stands rather than the press box.
We want to give you raw, authentic fan voices about the big issues at Man United – which is why the story you have read today might sit on the Manchester Evening News for now, and is part of the MEN family, but is not representative of those who work there full time.
Keep your eyes peeled for more info on where you can read more from this author in the future. But in the meantime, we hope you enjoy what they have written.
The recent news of Liverpool giving their ground a facelift shows how far United need to come in order to catch up with their rivals.
Before Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United looked miles ahead. Despite being just one point off the current league leaders this season and finishing above them in the Premier League last year, it does feel that they are still lagging behind.
Off-field success is what, in part, leads to on-field success. Although the gap is closing, there is still some work to be done to go ahead once again.
Should the Glazer’s increase the Old Trafford capacity? Follow our UnitedOnMyMind writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.