by RAY FLEMING
WE have seen at Chelsea FC during the season just ended what the combination of an owner's apparently bottomless purse and an inspired manager can achieve in English football. Chelsea's all-round skills and sustained effort brought them a just reward in winning the Premiership. There is therefore no reason to doubt that Malcolm Glazer's millions will ensure comparable success for Manchester United in the future. Mr Glazer has borrowed heavily in order to buy the club and it would not make sense if he did not intend to ensure that United's future results justify his financial judgement. That being so, Mr Glazer and his allegedly “soccer-crazy” sons must be wondering why their plan to consolidate and enhance Manchester United's already fine reputation in English and international soccer has been received with such hostility by the club's local supporters. Don't they want even more silverware on the Old Trafford shelves? From Mr Glazer's perspective, this hostility must be difficult to understand. But perhaps if he had spent last Sunday following closely what was happening at the bottom end of the Premiership he might have come to realise that soccer in Britain, and indeed in most of Europe, is not simply a matter of winning big prizes. It is also a deeply tribal experience in which loyalty to one's team, regardless of its success or its misfortunes, is paramount. The supporters of the relegated Crystal Palace, Norwich and Southampton will be in the stands on the first day of next season, committed to cheering them to an early return to the Premiership. Ultimately, for English soccer supporters it is not the winning that matters, but the taking part. And the further from London one travels the more that is true. Manchester United is not just a football team, it is an expression of something profoundly and uniquely Mancunian and until Ralph Glazer understands that and acknowedges it he will not be truly welcome at the club he has bought.