Blackout fails fans, club and manager



Sir Alex Ferguson’s club-wide media blackout, imposed after Manchester United’s defeat to Liverpool at the weekend and the Scot’s recent FA charge for improper conduct, will prove counter-productive both to the man and the organisation he represents. In this de facto certainty lies. After all, failure to communicate not only robs supporters of an essential link with the team but allows a coverage vacuum to grow in which the media controls the agenda.

Routinely obsessed with the coverage he garners, Ferguson has repeatedly cancelled his Friday morning press conferences this season and has now taken to boycotting the club’s own TV channel MUTV too. Yet the Scot’s tirades at the media are now routine – with more than half a dozen journalists banned from attending conferences at Carrington – and he has made little effort to build relationships with the media.

In Ferguson’s place hacks required to fill column inches and broadcast hours will seek out alternate editorial angles. They’re unlikely to offer the positive coverage Ferguson so desperately seeks.

Of course, somebody should have reminded David Gill about the current media blackout, with the United chief executive appearing in front of a Parliamentary Select Committee today – in full glare of the cameras – to extol the virtues of the reclusive Glazer family.

Aside from the now routine claim that United’s huge debt makes no difference to the club’s transfer market spending or long-term security, Gill also claimed – bizarrely – that the club is excellent at communicating with supporters.

“As an executive team, on behalf of ourselves and the club do have extensive communications with our fans,” claimed Gill in front of MPs today.

“We take those elements of fan communication very seriously. We look at ways of comforting them that their club is being run properly. We understand the importance of communication, we don’t take it lightly.”

Indeed, there is no little irony that Gill should claim in Parliament that the Glazers have “delegated Alex Ferguson” to talk to the fans in the week United’s 69-year-old Scot is refusing to do precisely that. Perhaps it is little wonder United’s manager is taking his cue from the owners – the Glazers have given one interview in more than five years of ownership.

However, Gill said the club will never talk to groups opposed to the Glazer regime, including the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST).

“We don’t communicate with certain fan groups,” added the 53-year-old ceo.

“If we’re going to be castigated for not speaking with one or two groups who have very specific agendas, then so be it. Unless they change their situation I do not see a reason to sit down and talk to them.

“They have a devout aim to change the ownership. They’re [fans' groups] well-organised but they’re very domestic. We’ve done studies that show we have 333 million followers from around the world. We get thousands of emails, we got 36,000 phone calls last month.

“A lot of the fans want to ensure that there’s money to be spent on the team, that they come to a safe, modern stadia, that [United] play exciting, attractive football. And I think we’ve delivered on those accounts.”

However, Gill forgets that the supposed 300 million plus fans outside of the noisy “domestic” contingent contribute almost nothing to United’s financial status. The summer tour nets around £5 million per annum but overseas casual fans spend little else. Around one third of United’s income comes from match days at Old Trafford, another third from UK Sky TV subscribers and the other third from other media rights and commercial sponsorship.

And while United’s global fan base contributes indirectly to the club attracting new sponsors the global media also plays an important part in communicating the club’s message. One that the club cannot influence if it refuses to engage.

More to the point, fans can argue that press coverage of the club ‘makes no difference on the pitch’ but it clearly affects both the manager’s thinking and his actions. Ferguson’s aim may well be to foster the now clichéd ‘siege mentality’ but if the media ban is extended for any length of time and players cannot fulfil sponsors’ commitments the Scot will surely hear about it.

However, it seems unlikely Ferguson will hold his weekly press conference this Friday, although time will tell whether the Scot speaks with ITV ahead of United’s FA Cup fifth round clash with Arsenal on Saturday. The United manager is also required to hold a press conference 24 hours ahead of the club’s fixture with Marseille next week.

By which time the FA may well have handed down a four match touchline ban to the 69-year-old for questioning referee Martin Atkinson’s “fairness” – it’s a subject on which we’re unlikely to hear from Ferguson or anybody else at the club again.

In the meantime the United manager has been widely lampooned for his stance in boycotting the media and criticised for his comments about referees. It can hardly be the type of coverage the Scot seeks.

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Comments

  1. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    fuck the media anyway,

  2. So Fergie’s getting a little crotchety in his old age, I couldn’t really care less. Who gives fuck about post-match interviews and pre-match press conferences all that other obligatory crap? There’s nothing interesting that ever comes of it, it’s all just boring cliches or stupid “gotcha” moments when a manager is pissed off after a match. I’m not seeing why I should care at all about this, and if something good comes of it in terms of team psychology, all the better.

  3. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    i think we all know that as a bloke fergie is the king of all cunts

  4. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    If the media in this country was fair and unbiassed… I’d agree… but the press here takes too many liberties.

    Ferguson gets “lampooned”, whether he speaks to the press or not… as does anybody who happens to have an opinion of their own.

    The press has always used a bit of creative exageration to promote a story… but the press in this country takes the piss… no regard for the good of the game… no honour or ethics… just blind greed… and the freedom to be malicious… that’s not right.

    If I was Fergsuon, I’d hold audience with all the top managers of the league, and see if they’d all be willing to boycott the media. I bet he’d find a lot more allies than enemies on this issue.

    Redknapp would join him for sure… and I’d bet many others would as well…

    Let’s see how the press, and the FA would feel if all the clubs said fuck off…

  5. Gill says, “A lot of the fans want to ensure that there’s money to be spent on the team, that they come to a safe, modern stadia, that [United] play exciting, attractive football. And I think we’ve delivered on those accounts.”

    I’ve been watching the first half of the Barca-Arsenal 2nd leg and the gulf in quality between United and Barca is astounding. I remember Xavi was talking about Scholes recently and he said, “In Spain, if the crowd sees you afraid of running with the ball, they will jeer and boo you. That’s why most players in Barcelona and generally in Spain will not be afraid of being on the ball”. In this game, not once did any Barca defender give the ball to their keeper. Whereas, every week, we see Carrick, Smalling, Rio, Vidic, van der Sar playing a minigame in our half of the pitch.

    Now when I look at the United side this season, I haven’t seen one player wanting to run with the ball and show some quality apart from Nani, Rafael and Rio. 2 of them are defenders. It is excruciating to watch United play and for some reason this seems to happen in 3 year cycles. Don’t forget we had to endure 3 years of trash from Ronaldo before he came good and then he went to Madrid. I personally don’t have the patience to watch the trash United have been serving out every week this season.

    Also, English football does not exist in a bubble. There is no way it can be said that non-domestic revenues do not affect English clubs. If United hadn’t won the 99 Champs League, I doubt English football would have been so famous now around the world.

    End of the day, football is a televised sport meant for entertainment. If it’s not entertaining, fewer people will watch it. Fewer people, fewer sponsors, lesser tv revenue etc.

    FFS in short, I don’t want to watch Bolton style play. Show some freaking quality.

  6. redknapp takes it up his arse

  7. Blog Commenter said:
    Actually Redknapp is pretty popular with the media, from what I’ve seen and read.

    Course he is

    He and the media have pretty much guaranteed him the England job while managing to totally undermine the current, much better manager

  8. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    sidney said:
    Course he is
    He and the media have pretty much guaranteed him the England job while managing to totally undermine the current, much better manager

    Yeah, well let’s see how much the media likes him, when he IS England manager and he loses his first game.
    And by the way, Redknapp threatened to stop doing interviews, when he was facing punishment for criticising a ref.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  9. Redknapp is a backhand receiving thief. He will be found guilty at Southwark before this year is over.

    SAF can do whatever he likes with the press. They are London driven anyway so they can get lost!!

  10. Have to say I disagree with the view that the press can get effed – as United fans, don’t we have a right to hear from Fergie, or at least Phelan, as to why he sent out a 2 man central midfield on Sunday, bearing in mind that he was playing 2 centrebacks who’d never played together before? The answer presumably is that Fletcher had been unwell (this is the rumour doing the rounds, not confirmed by the club) – ok, follow up question then is what other fit central midfielders does United have at the moment? (The answer is Darron Gibson, which speaks for itself.) Alternatively, why not play Giggs in midfield – because we don’t have anyone who can play at left wing, and that’s because Fergie wouldn’t spend in the last 2 transfer windows. Ok, next question – was it also the case that Fergie played 4-4-2 because he couldn’t rely on a single striker, given that he would have had to choose between an out of form Rooney or Berba who just cannot deliver in the big games…

    Could go on and on – the point is that if Fergie had his way and didn’t have to front up to the press, we’d never get the chance to hear his thoughts on these subjects.

  11. Self Destructive mode, but he gets away with it every time.
    Up to now he has always alienated the Media and Fans but has got away with it after a few Utd’s wins or winning a title or two, as Knobby said “a king of cunts”, I don’t think that, he has in my opinion the best and the worst of his Scotish breed.

    LKHF
    Ober-Faffer
    MUFC: THE RELIGION

  12. St Newlyn says:

    Fergie reserves a right not to speak to anyone if he so wishes. However, it never does you any favours to go in hiding particularly if you feel your actions are justified. It’s not an approach I would advocate.

    What I do find disgusting are Gill’s comments. The comments ‘right to snub protests’ and “At the same time, we’re not going to engage in structured dialogue with organisations like that.”

    These organisations contain Man Utd fans. Lifelong Man Utd fans who’s families past and present are responsible in some part for the existence of the club. Irrespective of any perception on agenda’s Gill and the Glazers have a moral obligation to communicate with all involved in the debate. They do not have to agree. You take the position of refusing to speak to those that disagree with you at your peril. History will remember Gill as a person who lacked the integrity to face critcism with objectivity.
    I would have expected someone with integrity to acknowledge the discourse and work to improving communication.

    He has presented himself as nothing short of a vile, arrogant, deluded individual.

  13. Not sure how he’s letting the fans down – unless he’s gonna stop doing his article in the mathday programme

  14. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Yeah, well let’s see how much the media likes him, when he IS England manager and he loses his first game.

    And by the way, Redknapp threatened to stop doing interviews, when he was facing punishment for criticising a ref.

    Yeah, Redknapp and Fergie have highlighted that they’re asked questions about refereeing decisions which, if they answer the questions truthfully, they get fined.

    They should just ban talk of referees in interviews and press conferences and if the manager has a problem with a referees’ performance, he should write to the Referrees’ Association, the FA or whoever in private. Referees should be interviewed separately by the media and asked to justify their decisions. This will improve things on so many levels and would mean that the managers and media will focus on the real reasons the game was won and lost – rather than boring pap about referees’ decisions.

  15. To be fair, if we’d got results at Liverpool and Chelsea no fans would give a shiny shite whether Fergie fulfilled his media obligations or not. I’m just annoyed that this media blackout / siege mentality / mind-games or whatever you want to call it it taking much attention away from the utter bollocks we’ve witnessed on the pitch this last month.

  16. This is nothing new. Fergie has refused to explain why we didnt turn up in Rome in 2009.

  17. uncleknobsucker from Liverpool needs to get a life seriously…..

  18. I like this from Fergie – who cares about what is said after the game. Players interviews are another oddity – they don’t add much to the whole event anyway.

    And Barcelona were on a different planet last night at times. Just shows us that the English mentality of physicality over skill has to go.

  19. I am disappointed that because of this media ban,we didn’t get to hear from Ryan Giggs who has overtaken Bobby Charlton’s record last Sunday.

    Fergie is free to do whatever he likes in the best interests of Manchester United but how many times have we seen Wenger or somebody else boycotting the media?

    If you don’t want to talk to the media fine.Why not allow Phelan or the players to talk?

  20. MATTHEW RILEY says:

    what a ridiculous article waste of breath writing this shit no pundit on tv or football journalist asks him questions the fans want to hear anyway.like why’s the midfield shit? why have you not replaced giggs and scholes? why has the team gone backwards since winning the european cup in 2008? where is the ronaldo money? why the fuck did you buy bebe? the list could go on.

  21. Blog Commenter said:
    Have to say I disagree with the view that the press can get effed – as United fans, don’t we have a right to hear from Fergie, or at least Phelan, as to why he sent out a 2 man central midfield on Sunday, bearing in mind that he was playing 2 centrebacks who’d never played together before? The answer presumably is that Fletcher had been unwell (this is the rumour doing the rounds, not confirmed by the club) – ok, follow up question then is what other fit central midfielders does United have at the moment? (The answer is Darron Gibson, which speaks for itself.) Alternatively, why not play Giggs in midfield – because we don’t have anyone who can play at left wing, and that’s because Fergie wouldn’t spend in the last 2 transfer windows. Ok, next question – was it also the case that Fergie played 4-4-2 because he couldn’t rely on a single striker, given that he would have had to choose between an out of form Rooney or Berba who just cannot deliver in the big games…

    Could go on and on – the point is that if Fergie had his way and didn’t have to front up to the press, we’d never get the chance to hear his thoughts on these subjects.

    What a load of rubbish. Since when did Fergie or any top manager answer those sorts of questions truthfully anyway? They’re not going to undermine team morale or give important information to the opposition by saying things like “well I didn’t play Player X because he’s really easy to turn by pace on his left hand side”, or “I’ve got a major injury crisis at the moment so I’ll definitely be playing the following 11 players in the following formation for the next 3 matches”, or “let’s face it, Berba is shite and I’m giving him the rest of the season to prove himself or he’s out, but please don’t print that because his confidence is fragile”.

    99% of what gets said in the formal pre-match and post-match interviews and press conferences is total tedium, completely bland PR shite that the journalists have to try really hard to exaggerate into fake drama, usually by deliberately mischaracterising what’s been said.

  22. In any case this “blackout” will be over in a day or two if it’s not already. It seems like a perfectly logical reaction in the wake of Fergie getting charged after the Chavs match, then his team getting done at Liverpool with one of his best players (the best this season) getting deliberately roughed up by Carragher. I don’t think Carragher intended to give Nani that sort of injury, but he definitely went in to reduce him because Nani had just been switched to that side, and Carragher thought he’d “send a message”. He’s an old and slow fuck now though, so the tackle was a good bit more brutal than he’d intended.

  23. Given our current situation, I’d rather that the manager and players kept quiet until the end of the season. Concentrate on the job in hand.

    I hate it when the (usually most under-performing) players come out with all this ‘we’ve got to do better’ crap after a bad result. Fletcher is a particular culprit.

  24. herbie simms says:

    Ferguson needs to stop blaming referees everytime we lose and start dealing with the players and gettiing his team selection right.

  25. Fergie speaks http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/892020/sir-alex-ferguson-breaks-silence-to-assess-arsenal-threat?cc=5739

    About Liverpool: “I have no excuses for the poor performance at Liverpool, who were the better team and deserved their win,” Ferguson said. “I was disappointed because we didn’t perform to the level I expect and which, to be fair, we generally achieve.”

    Fair enough

  26. Is that what those quotes are taken from? FFS the article makes out he’s done a press conference/interview

    So will there be no pre-match and post-match press conferences this week either?

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