Actions, we are often told, speak louder than words. The ugly scenes that unfolded on Monday night at Ewood Park offered a kind of twisted backing to the statement as for the first time it became apparent how much inept owners can ruin a football club.
Forget the likes of Coventry, both Sheffield teams and even Portsmouth – whose departures were undoubtedly unfortunate – here we saw a team that had lifted the league 17 years ago plunge into second division, following 18 months of farcical management by their owners.
Sunday, bar a shock of epic proportions, will see the second episode of this sad saga as Manchester City will lift their first title since 1968, while United will have to finally come face-to-face with the skeleton they’ve been hiding in one of the Old Trafford’s closets for seven years now.
United – the richest sport club in the world in terms of profits generated every year – have punched above their weight since 2005 when, following the Glazer’s takeover, they’ve been forced to pour hundreds of millions of pounds into the American’s coffins to repay debts and interests.
Fergie’s ability and determination paired with a solid and talented group that had been assembled prior to 2005, assured United a successful run even when Roman Abramovich expensively assembled Chelsea ran away with back-to-back leagues in 2004 and 2005.
While the red half of Manchester saw trophies coming in, the blue half of the city looked on in astonishment as a different kind of flow was aimed towards their club, a flow that might not guarantee success but, in modern football, will go a very long way towards securing it.
United, of course, have spent money of their own – as early as last summer, almost £50 million were forked out for DeGea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones – but their net spending in the last five years is £51.6 million, almost a tenth of Manchester City’s £418.9 million and below the likes of Villa, Sunderland, Spurs and Stoke.
If City win the league on Sunday, no doubt the words “power” and “shift” will be mentioned for weeks, perhaps months. It will hurt United fans, but it will hurt even more to know that City have been helped by an inside job, started when an American took over at Old Trafford, a cold winter day seven years ago.