Manchester United fans have long requested for a change in ownership. So, when the Glazers finally announced their intention to sell back in 2022, the fans felt they finally got their wish. But little did they know how taxing the entire process would be on the fans.
After their initial announcement, the Glazers contemplated the sale for almost a year, entertaining bids from Qatar and Sir Jim Ratcliffe. The process had extended and delayed for such a long time, that the fans almost gave up on the possibility of seeing a new face in the boardroom. But INEOS’ successful acquisition has confirmed the sale of Manchester United, at least a part of it.
When the announcement finally came in December, it was revealed that Sir Jim Ratcliffe would join Manchester United for a 25% stake in the club, and oversee the footballing operations. Having said that, what is next for the club and the fans?
The impact on the players
With every change in ownership, the impact and ripples always flow across all directions. Be it the fans, the staff, the coaches, the players, everyone experiences a change of aura when the new owners walk through the door. Whether they bring certain expectations, or a sense of calm and patience varies from every takeover. But it also attracts an expectation from the players as well. The commitment shown in the transfer market could directly influence the players’ tenacity and dedication on the pitch.
Bruno Fernandes has already fired clear indications by requesting for additional reinforcements from the incoming owners. Despite boasting some of the brightest and most expensive talents a club can afford, United has stumbled their way until December with wins and losses in equal measure. The captain understands better than most that fresh faces could spark a jolt of inspiration and motivation to turn the season around, or whatever is left of it.
The impact on the manager
Erik ten Hag may be kicking himself for taking over Manchester United amidst the current state of affairs. The Dutch head coach delivered a decent season in 2022/23 alongside silverware for the trophy cabinet. Everyone had expected and hoped to take things up a notch and battling Arsenal and Manchester City to a strong finish, but it has been anything but that. United languishes perilously close to mid-table as the season edges closer to the halfway mark and it has popped many questions surrounding ten Hag’s long-term viability at the club.
While ETH delivers on many fronts and qualities a club like Man United desires, the misfiring season has undone all the good he had put in during his debut season. And such a misfiring season would definitely attract a keen eye from the new owners, INEOS in this case. If ten Hag does not manage to turn things around or bring back a sense of stability, he may be gone before he and many others may like or prefer.
The impact on the fans
The fans are the ones who are most impacted from an emotional standpoint. The new ownership could bring in potential downfall, or a change of fortunes that could lead to a dynasty like no other. United fans would surely hope that Ratcliffe delivers on the promise many have come to expect from the acquisition. Otherwise, it will be yet another period where the fans are left frustrated with little to no control of where the club is headed next.
They do have something to be hopeful about, as Ratcliffe is a United fan himself, and that exponentially increases the odds of success and stability for the club in the upcoming seasons. Whether that happens is an entirely different prospect in reality when compared to the fantasies one dreams of.