United triumph fails to mask fans' anger
Manchester Utd 3 Burnley 0
Published 17/01/2010 | 05:00
Success on the pitch has always helped to gloss over Manchester United fans' concerns about the direction their club has taken under the Glazers, but even yesterday's victory failed to dampen the mood of rebellion inside Old Trafford.
The anger of United supporters against the Glazer family, who took ownership of the club in 2005, has never been greater following the release of the club's accounts six days ago and the associated issues with a bond that they are hoping will raise £500m.
Only the £80m sale of Cristiano Ronaldo prevented a significant loss in the financial year and the mention of a possible sale of the ground or the training ground has created unrest among the fans.
Following a public meeting in Stretford called by the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association and the Manchester United Supporters Trust (Must), the dissent spread around the ground in the closing stages of yesterday's game. There was significant anti-Glazer chanting and fans attempted to unfurl a banner that read 'Love United Hate Glazer'.
Three points may have kept them in touch with Chelsea as they seek a record fourth straight title but this display could not have been in sharper contrast to the Londoners' destruction of Sunderland, and there is a sense the mutinous feeling is going to increase.
"The difference now, compared to last week, or two weeks, or two years ago, is that the figures have been put down in black and white," Must chairman Duncan Drasdo said. "Everyone can see it. The reality is confronting people. The longer the Glazers are in ownership, the more damage it does to the club. There is no positive future with them.
"When you look at the fact we did not replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez last summer and Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar are all coming to the end of their careers, this really is a ticking time bomb. We need to act."
It looked like they would have bother on the pitch for long periods as they failed to break down a Burnley team that had a central defensive partnership that had made just two Premier League starts before yesterday.
Steven Fletcher, who was taken to hospital after suffering an ankle injury in the first half, wasted a great chance after Chris Eagles and David Nugent sparked a quick breakaway for Burnley, who had Brian Laws in charge for the first time.
It took a calm finish from Dimitar Berbatov, who swapped passes with Wayne Rooney, to open the scoring just after the hour. Berbatov, who had already hit the post, then had a shot saved by Brian Jensen only for Rooney to guide a shot into the corner of the net before Senegalese forward Mame Biram Diouf raced on to Antonio Valencia's long clearance to head in for his first United goal.
Alex Ferguson will decide tomorrow whether Berbatov requires surgery to cure a long-standing knee problem. "He could have come off at half time but he wanted to stay on. It was a funny game actually. We were very frivolous with our chances," Ferguson said.
"There are a lot of pluses but a scoreline of three doesn't really reflect the game," Laws, who is in talks with Portsmouth about keeping the on-loan Nugent, said. "We came with no fear and it showed."