Twitter is home to trolling as much as reasoned debate.
A dispute took place last week involving some of those involved in the #GlazersOut movement and Manchester journalist Andy Mitten. Mitten is editor of Manchester United fanzine United We Stand. Some on Twitter had taken issue with Mitten not questioning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer regarding the #GlazersOut movement at the Press Conference in Perth.
Mitten had initially tweeted saying that he was in fact in Brisbane, five hours away. The tweeters then accused Mitten of having sold himself to the Glazer family despite Mitten having regularly covered the topic in the United We Stand fanzine and podcast.
The question is though: why are factions of the #GlazersOut movement now targeting journalists instead of taking more direct action? Also: is Andy Mitten really the central Manchester United figurehead who has drank the Glazer Kool-Aid and chosen to stay quiet?
The #GlazersOut movement is fine on a superficial, Twitter-based, ‘while there is no football on tv, let’s feel like we are doing something by getting this thing trending’ type of way. Its origin is entirely earnest; that the Glazer family have mismanaged Manchester United, bled the club for almost one billion pounds and allowed Ed Woodward’s chaotic premiership to continue year after year. On the back of this, these supporters want the Glazers to sell the club. Few could argue.
But as it stands, the #GlazersOut movement is no more than an internet pastime for people trying to pass the time until football returns. Trending on Twitter – what the fuck does that even matter?
If the often-anonymous Twitter users (hiding behind an Eric Cantona 1993 avatar) leading #GlazersOut are using their movement to prepare supporters for what might be ahead; then this is fine. If those trying to lead the charge on Twitter want Manchester United supporters to be prepared for what they might need to do in October, November, and December should results and general management of the club continue to go awry, then that might make sense. But what are they trying to achieve now?
As it currently stands, it looks as though #GlazersOut is not only rudderless, but those involved appear unaware of how a significant long-term strategy could ever work in practice. ‘Trending’ does not equate to action. #GlazersOut will only ever matter if Manchester United supporters actively choose to take its principles to heart, which to date they have not.
The movement will only matter if people boycott United merchandise and that of their sponsors, if they cancel their MUTV subscriptions and if supporters are actually willing in November and December to take part in stadium walk-outs; not by retweeting a ‘Boycott United’ tweet from a fanboy United Twitter accounts based in New Hampshire or New Delhi.
Abandoning purchasing Manchester United jerseys is all well and fine if people do it, but most would doubt that the #GlazersOut movement is the reason that Liverpool jerseys are outnumbering Manchester United jerseys ten-to-one this summer.
Another problem with the #GlazersOut movement is that its lacks real credibility or leadership. Some on Twitter can target Andy Mitten all they like, but is he really the figurehead who sold himself? This is where the movement fully ventures into trolling territory. These people should probably take a history lesson before tweeting journalists.
Let’s not forget it was Alex Ferguson’s fallout with John Magnier and JP McManus in 2003 which led to the pair then selling their shares in Manchester United to the Glazer family. It was Alex Ferguson who preached financial prudence in the post-2009 years and lamented a “lack of value in the market.” It was Alex Ferguson who spoke of being always well paid by the Glazer family, something which continues to this day.
And then – how realistic is the #GlazersOut campaign to succeed? The campaign to rid Newcastle United of Mike Ashley has failed abysmally. Manchester and Manchester United are far more attractive and commercial prospects than Newcastle admittedly, but also vastly more expensive and thus far the only person linked with an interest in Manchester United has been Mohammad Bin Salman.
You’ve heard of Mohammad Bin Salman. He’s the Saudi Crown Prince worth an estimated $17 billion.
Imagine the transfer budget.
In June, The Guardian reported that there was ‘credible evidence’ that he was responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
And it very well might come down to the Glazers or Bin Salman. Who would the #GlazersOut movement choose if it came down to a straight choice between the two?
There is the genuine fear that the #GlazersOut movement is built on a foundation of sand and it is nothing but idle, internet talk. Time will tell. It’s easy to retweet something, but will these people feel as strongly — having spent £300 on tickets and travel to get to a United game in November — when the crowd are walking out in protest in the thirtieth minute, because that is what a real campaign with conviction and aims is all about? How strongly are their convictions going to be then?
Will all these supporters feel as strongly about the Anti-Glazer movement after signing Harry Maguire? Will they feel the same way when David De Gea re-signs for the club, or will that #GlazersOut feeling be a little less potent? What happens the movement if Solskjaer’s United thump Lampard’s Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season?
Should Manchester United’s forthcoming Premier League season start badly — and I don’t actually believe it will — then rumblings of protests might start appearing around Old Trafford.
But trending on Twitter in mid-July before pre-season has even started? Give me a break.