The English media can
smell blood at Old Trafford as Manchester United battles to stay in touch with
runaway Premier League leader Chelsea and the club
starts to visibly fray at the edges. Which must make US
businessman Malcolm Glazer start to work up a sweat over just what he bought
into when he purchased the one-time king of UK soccer earlier in the year.

Now, as United finds
itself facing serious questions on and off the pitch, manager Sir Alex Ferguson
elicits little if any sympathy in the media, because over the years he has treated
them with massive contempt. Even
the fans are now tiring of his petulance and questioning his record of recent
years including a succession of dud signings and following his decision to stop talking to the club’s own TV
station because someone dared to criticize him he was booed off the pitch by the United
fans after the club’s
2-1 loss to Blackburn at the weekend.

While the injury to
his indispensable captain Roy Keane and the two-match Champions League suspension
of Wayne Rooney has done nothing to improve Ferguson’s disposition, much of the reason for him now
feeling the heat is essentially self-inflicted.

At his Monday news
conference, the stroppy manager refused to answer any questions relating to either
United’s slump in form or the fans jeering, set against a background of a club
and its players showing all the signs of a very unhappy locker room. But
when the hacks still persisted with these questions he spat the
dummy and walked out, although this is hardly a first for a manager who brooks
little or no criticism of his methods.

“What happened on
Saturday was a build-up of ill feeling that has gone on for a long time,”
Johnny Flacks, the founding member of the Independent Manchester United
Supporters’ Association (Imusa), told The Guardian.

“The supporters
have been accustomed to mediocrity for too long and this was the moment when
they decided that enough was enough. You can argue whether it was good, bad or
indifferent to boo the manager but what other option do supporters have to show
their displeasure?”

Earlier today United managed
to defeat Portugal’s Benfica 2-1 in a home Champions League
match.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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