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Old 10th May 2010, 10:16   #1
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Default Green and gold campaign falls flat at Theatre of Disillusionment

Manchester United supporters' green and gold campaign falls flat at Old Trafford
By Ian Chadband, Chief Sports Correspondent
Telegraph 10 May 2010

They stood in their thousands at the end, brandishing their green and gold scarves aloft, determined that even though the Theatre of Dreams had been transformed inevitably into the Theatre of Disillusionment, at least they could drown their anti-climax with one last vigorous seasonal message to the Glazer family.

It was a weird and striking sight all right. The United players on their lap of honour, having to carefully tiptoe past the scarves being hurled at them, doubtless under a three-line whip from the club burghers not even to look at these devilish symbols of protest, let alone pick one up, especially after Sir Alex Ferguson himself had just been screened on YouTube recently signing one of them.

Then there were Stoke’s partying crew, still rubbing it all in with gleeful chants of “USA”. It is difficult to protest with any great efficacy when opposition fans are asking “Are you Norwich in disguise?” And it is even harder when the atmosphere in the ground feels as flat as yesterday’s Boddingtons.

According to regular Old Trafford visitors, this was the most vociferous protest yet organised against the Glazer regime, yet although there were reports of fans clashing with police in front of the East Stand, a smoke bomb being set off in the Megastore and stink bombs near the directors’ entrance, inside the ground it really felt a pretty low-key, distracted affair, with supporters understandably torn between support for their team and heaping odium on the owners.

It all made for a weird afternoon. With the spirits of 70,000 effectively crushed after six minutes when the Stoke fans’ little dance of celebration informed the stadium of Chelsea’s early opener, a perfect platform looked to have been set for a sustained, vociferous protest.

Yet it never really materialised. A plane, barely noticed, had flown over the ground trailing a “Glazers Out” banner before kick-off, bearing a number of support to text. Ah, a very 21st century protest, this.

Then, as the second half began, thousands blew whistles and held aloft placards handed out before the game. These were brief explosions of defiance, but like the protest chants of ‘Glazers Out’ which quickly fizzled out whenever the Stretford End tried to rouse the support, it ended up feeling just a bit half-hearted.

Perhaps recent revelations had dispirited some of the protestors. After all, if the Glazers really had turned down a £1.5 billion offer for the club from a Middle East investment group, did that not suggest no amount of protest scarves, being flogged at a fiver a time, was going to halt their determination to hold on to the club?

Of course, it might have helped if there had been someone in the family to discomfit. Typically, not one of the Glazer clan made it to the game — now wouldn’t that have been an historic first, had a team won the title with none of the owners there to witness the moment? — with co-chairman Avram’s trip having conveniently been stranded by the volcanic ash disruptions. A green and gold coloured cloud, doubtless.

No wonder there is such widespread support for United fans’ stand against owners perceived throughout the game to be playing fast and loose with a great club. Yet protests cannot be easy to make volcanic when your club remains so relentlessly successful, despite its owners. At Liverpool, maybe, but when you’ve won the Carling Cup and lost the championship by a mere point, the deluge of success under the Glazers can hardly be said to be diminishing. Not as yet, anyway.

United finished with some delightful stuff here to quickly woo minds away from negativity. And after Fergie had taken the mike to tell the fans how magnificent they still were, he boomed “Of course, we’ll come back next year — that’s exactly what Manchester United do”. Yes, whether in green and gold or red, white and black.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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