The negative legacy of the Glazers at Manchester United

The Glazers have been the owners of Manchester United since 2005 and are widely perceived as the main culprits of the club's decline since manager Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013. A lot of people have felt that the Scottish papered over the cracks that the owners created and multiple reports, statements, and results on the pitch seem to confirm that the American family are the ones responsible for this institution's failings in recent memory.

Manchester United logo on the wall
Now that English billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his company, INEOS, have been delegated the responsibility of the football side of things in the institution, it is worth remembering the negative legacy of the Glazers. It is easy to say that they were the ones responsible for the club's decline without mentioning why, which is something that is going to be addressed here.

Not investing any money

This first point might seem controversial or bizarre because United have always been among the highest spenders every summer since Ferguson retired in 2013. Well, that is because this is a tricky point that only United supporters seem to be familiar with.

The Glazers, despite spending regularly every summer, have never invested any money into the club. All the money United as a club spends has been a direct result of the institution's own gains through commercial ventures, ticket sales, the players they sell, and a lot of other natural ways to make money.

Compared to several other institutions, United are restricted by their own board of directors, which is a major reason for their decline. Furthermore, the Glazers are always taking money from the club and investing it in other business ventures, such as the NFL football team, the Buccaneers.

Lack of investment in infrastructure

A football club is a lot more than just the manager and the players. It's the stadium, the infrastructure, the workers, and also the conditions everybody works in. All of this plays a major role in the situation United is in as a football institution and the Glazers are very responsible for that.

It has become a running meme online that Old Trafford, one of the most important football stadiums in the entire world, has a hole in one part of the ceiling that hasn't been fixed for years. So, when is raining during the matches, the people sitting there get wet. It may sound like a minor detail, but things start to pile up and this issue becomes a lot more telling of the owners' shortcomings.

Casey Stoney, the manager of United's women's team from 2018 to 2021, mentioned after her resignation that the club didn't provide quality conditions for the players. This included the lack of proper bathrooms, having to train at The Cliff, the old training setup of the men's club, and often dealing with poor pitches that led to several major injuries for players.

Several players of the men's team and several managers, such as Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær, have all been very vocal about the mismanagement of the club after their departures. Louis van Gaal, in particular, has been very vocal, even suggesting fellow Dutch manager Erik Ten Hag to not sign for the institution because it was "a commercial club".

There have been several examples over the years of the Glazers' mismanagement in terms of infrastructure and a lot of people who have worked there have been very vocal about it.

The lack of football people in leadership roles

A figure that most football fans are not familiar with during Ferguson's latter years was David Gill. He was the head of football operations and retired in the summer of 2013 along with the Scottish manager, with a lot of people, including United legend Patrice Evra, mentioning how his loss was huge for the club moving forward.

Ed Woodward, a banker by trade, was moved to Gill's position in 2013 after working closely with the Glazers even before their acquisition of United. It has been common knowledge that Woodward wasn't a man with experience in football and it showed during his management of the club in terms of negotiating contracts, signing players, hiring managers, and overall, everything that had to do with the sporting side of things.

Furthermore, Woodward was replaced in the summer of 2021 by John Murtough, a man who joined United during the 2013-14 season as he had worked with then-manager David Moyes at Everton. While a bit more experienced than Woodward in football, Murtough never truly worked at United either, which is shown in some questionable signings, such as signing Ajax's Antony in the summer of 2022 for such an inflated sum.

The lack of vision and planning led to a snowball effect that United hasn't recovered from. In many ways, things have only gotten worse, which is something that needs to be taken into account. Not having the correct people in the football operations department is perhaps one of the biggest reasons the Red Devils have struggled to come back to their best level for more than a decade.


The Glazers have been, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst thing that has happened to Manchester United in the last thirty years or so. The club is moving to a new era with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and most fans hope that this is a step in the right direction. However, the damage that was caused by the Glazers is something not every club can recover from quite easily.

This is something worth taking into account. It may take some time before the younger generations can see Manchester United at the top of its game once again.
Kelvin Tingling knows most things about football and also likes to write about it. Kelvin lives in Buenos Aires and his favorite team is Boca Juniors.