Due to Manchester United’s commercial success over the past decade in particular, they are viewed across the world has one of the wealthiest sports teams on the globe. They are a brand that are recognised throughout the world, even if you’re not a football fan. The prestige that comes with this has the obvious positives. However on the footballing transfer market it has become an hindrance for United and their ambitious supporters.
What has become clear over the past 10 years and even more recently as social media has become much more influential, is that other football teams, in England and especially in Europe have a lot to gain from having an association with a club like Manchester United. What we see in the transfer market from smaller clubs and to certain degree even clubs of a similar statue to United, is sometimes they will fabricate a link between themselves and United to enhance their own reputation. For example if a football club is looking to sell a player they will often manufacture a story for a press release that suggests Manchester United would like to purchase that player. Why do they do that? Well they do it because instantly these stories are viewed around the world and for a club or player to be seen to be linked in some way to the brand that is Manchester United instantly raises there profile. Let’s look at the recent signing of Donny Van De Beek from Ajax. One hour after his transfer to United was confirmed his social media following went up by 20,000. United won’t have an issue with this however because from that point on he is their player.
It’s the hundreds of players the club are linked to every season, some of which United have never shown an interest in that really concerns them though. The reason this is such a cause for concern has shown clearly this summer particularly. Convincing media reports that are often put out on social media, linking Manchester United to certain high profile players of other clubs that are admired by Manchester United fans around the world, build unfounded excitement. Fans take these stories as the truth and expect these players of admiration to them to be wearing the red of United next season. When for whatever reason the club doesn’t sign these players (most probably because they were not interested in the first place) fans become outraged and there is a social media frenzy which in turn becomes detrimental to the club. Pressure builds on the board members and the owners who will fear for the impact it has on the business side of things. It’s almost impossible for the club to do anything to stop these stories and it’s important to point out its not only clubs that will do this. Agents have become a massive part of modern football and they want their players to join Manchester United and if that’s not possible then at least make their player look appealing to a team like United by suggesting there is a level of interest there.
You could say that Manchester United are a victim of their own success and that may be true but they are also victims of not being able to live up to some the lavish claims and promises that they’ve made to their fans and the footballing world in recent years.