How Man Utd lost its soul as well as its manager
The club's success in negotiating sponsorship deals only matters if the team performs on the field, writes Paul Hayward
Sacking a manager 10 months into a six-year contract is only one sign of vast cultural change at Manchester United. Another was Sir Alex Ferguson striding onto the Old Trafford pitch along an avenue of DHL flags to wave goodbye after 26 years in charge.
At a club less commercially motivated, Ferguson would have stepped onto a "clean" field, with nothing to distract the eye from the poignance of his retirement. In keeping with United's unashamed drive to accommodate corporate partners, the moment was commercialised as well as enshrined.
Soon after Ferguson gave way, United's marketing and social media departments turned hyperactive, as if the constraints that made the footballing side the beginning, the middle and end of everything had lifted.