QB Fernandes

14/01/2024 14:27

QB Fernandes


That the Glazer family, who took over Manchester United football club, centered at their Old Trafford stadium, built 1910, adjacent to the Bridgewater Canal, off Warwick Road, north, Greater Manchester, county of Lancashire, bordering the city of Salford, and roughly delineated by former toll gates, Brooks’ Bar to the east, and Trafford Bar to the west, as part of the 19th century Turnpike system of mercantile traffic, residential exclusivity, and road maintenance, are from the United States of America, was a fact that normally impinged but slightly on the consciousness of the average supporter.

 Malcolm Glazer, born in Rochester city, Monroe county, New York state, whose stake in the club was 2.9%, after purchasing his first tranche of shares on March 2nd, 2003, for £9m, had 100% by June 2005, costing £790m, and although he died on May 8th, 2014, in the incorporated town of Palm Beach, on a barrier island in east-central Palm Beach county, Florida state, founding First Allied Corporation in 1984, as a holding company, with Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Conrail freight, and former US’ President George H. W. Bush’s oil and gas, Zapata Corporation, for example, as well as the American Football team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa city, Florida, his legacy to his family was inestimable.

 On June 7th, 2005, sons Avram and Joel, Executive Co-Chairmen from July 1st, 2005, and Bryan, were first appointed to the board as non-executive directors, and sons Kevin, Edward, and daughter, Darcie, in 2006, although on December 24th, 2024, Jim Ratcliffe, through his Ineos chemical conglomerate, were given control over soccer, after buying 25% of the club. Despite apparent seeming success with Alex Ferguson, appointed in November 1986, and continuing until retirement at the close of the 2012-13 season, the impact of the Glazers on United was discernible.

 Before 2005-06, under Ferguson’s stewardship, the F.A. Cup, 1990, 3-3 and 1-0 in the replay against Crystal Palace; the European Cup Winners’ Cup, 1991, 2-1 against Spain’s FC Barcelona at Feijenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, Holland, and the European Super Cup, 1-0 against Red Star Belgrade at Old Trafford; the 1992 League Cup, 1-0 against Nottingham Forest; the 1992-93 Premier League championship; the F.A. Cup, 4-0 against Chelsea and league ‘double’ of 1993-94 and 1995-96, 1-0 against Liverpool; the Premier League title of 1996-97; the ‘treble’ of league, F.A. Cup, 2-0 against Newcastle United and European Cup, 2-1 against German Bundesliga club, Bayern Munich, at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium in 1998-1999, as well as the Intercontinental Cup, 1-0 against Brazil's Palmeiras at the National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan; the 1999-2000, 2000-2001, and 2002-03 league titles, and the 2003-04 F.A. Cup, 3-0 against Millwall, at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, while Wembley was renovated, were won before the Glazers’ takeover.

 The League Cup of 2006, 4-0 against Wigan Athletic, Millennium Stadium; the league title of 2006-07; the double of league and European Cup, 1-1, at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, Russian Federation, against Chelsea, a.e.t., and 6-5 on penalties, in 2007-08, as well as the World Club Cup, 1-0 against Ecuador’s LDU Quito at the International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan; the double of League Cup, 0-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, a.e.t., and 4-1 on penalties, and league in 2008-09; the League Cup of 2010, 2-1 against Aston Villa, and the titles of 2010-11 and 2012-13, were won with the Glazers.  

 Ferguson’s retirement saw something of a drought in terms of success. Fans had seen the appointment of the business suited manager before, with Frank O’ Farrell, 1971-December 9th 1972, when the joke at ‘the Theater of Dreams’ was that he only came out of his office on match days. Although it was no surprise to the terraced ranks to find David Moyes of Everton appointed to succeed Ferguson, despite the emergence of protégé Adnan Januzaj of Belgium, as a possible future left footed playmaker, with 15 starts and 12 appearances for 4 goals, it was no wonder to see him leave at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, having done what he’d done for ‘the Toffees’; kept the club from being relegated.

 That Malcolm Glazer’s death had a deleterious effect on the club’s chances is moot, although he didn’t live to see former Netherlands’ manager, track suited Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who'd looked more like a trainer than Moyes, after buying Spain’s playmaker, Ander Herrera, for €36m from Athletic Bilbao, win the 2014 International Champions Cup pre-season tournament in the United States on August 4th, 3-1 against Liverpool, at Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens city, Miami-Dade county, Florida. However, Gaal’s experiments with three central defenders and wing backs, as well as inverted right footed left wingers, and vice versa, left fans feeling they’d gotten off lightly, when he was sacked, after winning the 2016 F.A. Cup, 2-1 against Crystal Palace.

 A pattern was beginning to emerge. The Glazers owned division South's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, when that National Football Conference (NFC) winning  team won Super Bowl XXXVII against the American Football Conference (AFC) winners, division West’s Oakland Raiders, 48-21, on January 26th, 2003, at the San Diego Chargers' Qualcomm Stadium, California, with quarterback, Brad Johnson, who in the American public imagination, corresponding to the role of playmaker in soccer, made an 8 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, Keenan McCardell, increasing the Buccaneers' lead to 27-3.

 The idea of the playmaker, as equivalent to the role of the quarterback, at the pivotal, central hub of the team, was to predominate at United, whose traditional two man midfield, with a holding ball winner and distributor, allied to a playmaker, behind twin strikers, and dependent on wingers to left and right, was to be modified by the diamond, consisting of a playmaker ahead of the two man midfield, and behind a single striker, assisted by two forwards, after the fashion of the quarterback (QB) in American football, handing the oval ball to a rushing back, who’d run with the ball, or throwing to left and right wide receivers in the anticipation of a touchdown (TD) in the opponents’ end zone, 6 points, followed by a place kick between the posts, 1 point, to emphasize the success, 7 points.

 Successful sans pareil, Portuguese José Mourinho, dubbed ‘The Special One’ by the English press, abrasively won the 2017 League Cup, 3-2 against Southampton, and Europa Cup, 2-0 against Ajax, Amsterdam, at Friends Arena, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden, bringing the hard tackling and long range passing and shooting abilities of France’s Paul Pogba back from Italy’s Juventus for €105m, where he’d signed as a free agent, after winning the F.A. Youth Cup with United in 2011, 6-3 against Sheffield United on aggregate, and four consecutive Serie A titles later; 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16.

 However, after converting Herrera into a defensive midfielder, with Belgian Marouane Fellaini, who’d been brought with him from Everton by Moyes for £27.5m, and Pogba ahead of him, rather than Herrera in his former diamond role as playmaker, behind the attack, Mourinho was dismissed in December 2019, after first losing charismatic Swedish goal scoring center forward through injury, Zlatan Ibrahimović, brought from Paris Saint-Germain age 34, as a free agent, and then losing the 2018 F.A. Cup Final, 0-1 to Chelsea's Belgian center forward Eden Hazard's penalty on 22 minutes, despite the herculean efforts of Zlatan’s replacement, bought from Everton for £75m, Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, 16 goals that 2017-18 season, and 12 more in 2018-19.

 José was replaced by former United striker, Norway’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who the board predictably thought they’d manage, but those who remembered the appointment of former player, Wilf McGuinness, as the legendary Matt Busby’s successor; F.A. Cup winner in 1948, 4-2 against Blackpool, and 1963, 3-1 against Leicester City; league titles in 1951-52, 1955-56, 1956-57, 1964-65, 1966-67, and the European Cup in 1968, 1-1, and 4-1, a.e.t., at London’s national stadium, Wembley, weren’t surprised when Solskjaer didn’t do well in the league, and had difficulties in getting past the semi-final stage of cup competitions.

 McGuinness was sacked, and replaced for the 1971-72 season, when United led the league before New Year, by O'Farrell, after Wilf lost the League Cup semi-final of 1970, 3-4 on aggregate to Manchester City, as well as the twice replayed F.A. Cup semi-final of that year, 0-1 to Leeds United, after two 0-0 draws, with legendary goal scorer, Denis Law, on the substitutes’ bench, and again the 1971 League Cup semi-final, 2-3 on aggregate to Aston Villa.

 History was repeated and Solskjaer suffered a fate similar to McGuinness, and indeed Moyes, who though losing 1-2 in the 2013-14 season’s away leg of the League Cup semi-final at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, despite a headed goal on 51 minutes from Serbia's center back, Nemanja Vidić, at the far post for a corner from the left, 1-1, won the home leg, 1-0, after a corner on the left from Januzaj, back heeled by England center forward, Danny Welbeck, finding Northern Irish center back, Jonny Evans, who headed in on 37 minutes.

 To many fans Sunderland were inexplicably given another 30 minutes. Normally, the game would have been over, as away goals count double, in the event of an aggregate draw, 2-2, that is, as United scored away, 3-2. However, a temporary rule change required a result, and after United’s Spanish ‘keeper, David de Gea, had fumbled right back Phil Bardsley’s low shot along the ground and into the net on 119 minutes, 1-1, Januzaj, playing a one-two with England center back, Chris Smalling, ran on to cross the ball, left and deep inside the area, for center forward, Mexico’s Javier Hernández, to oblige with a strike, left footed at the far post on 120+1 minutes, 2-1, a.e.t., 3-3 on aggregate. Only right midfield, Scot Darren Fletcher, from a quintet that also included Welbeck, Januzaj, England center half, Phil Jones, and Brazil’s right back, Rafael, scored as United lost on penalties, 1-2, a.e.t., in front of an incredulous Stretford End.

 Despite Solskjaer’s buying the playmaker United's American backers had been missing, Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes from Lisbon’s Sporting CP for €80m on January 20th, 2020, who scored 18 goals in 2020-21, as the team reached the 2021 Europa Cup Final, they lost at Stadion Gdańsk, Poland, 10-11, a.e.t., on penalties, to Spain’s Villarreal, when the game had ended in a draw in normal time, 1-1.

 Together with semi-final defeats for Solskjaer in the 2020 League Cup, 2-3 to Manchester City on aggregate, F.A. Cup, 1-3 to Chelsea, and Europa Cup, 1-2 to Spain’s Sevilla, at German club FC Köln’s neutral RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne, that was failing, like McGuinness and Moyes. Glazers’ owned Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV, against AFC division West’s Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, at ‘Ray Jay’, Raymond James (Financial) Stadium, ‘The New Sombrero’, Tampa city, Hillsborough county, Florida, on February 7th, 2021. QB Tom Brady threw, in the first quarter, an 8 yard TD pass, 7-3, inside flank to Rob Gronkowski, tight end (TE), and defensive blocker, that is, when Kansas’ QB, Patrick Mahomes, had the down,1 followed by another TD throw of 17 yards to ‘Gronk’, as eligible Buccaneers' offensive receiver, in the second, 14-3, and a throw of 19 yards to wide receiver, Antonio Brown, for a 1 yard gain, TD, in the end zone, with six seconds of the first half remaining, 21-6. However, cue B. Fernandes, United’s defeat again in the League Cup semi final of 2021, 0-2 to Manchester City at Old Trafford, was failure.

 Former Leipzig manager, German Ralf Rangnick, was invited to fill the role of interim manager until season’s end in December 2022, and Dutch manager of Ajax, Erik ten Hag was appointed for 2022-23, which finished relatively successfully, as Fernandes fulfilled his role as diamond playmaker in ‘the American Dream’, behind on loan Dutch center forward, Wout Weghorst, England’s Marcus Rashford on the left, and inverted left footed winger, Brazil’s Antony on the right, with Brazil’s Casemiro, right midfield, and Brazil’s Fred left midfield, behind him, as QB Fernandes’ United won the League Cup, 2-0, against Newcastle. Only time, and 'diamond Jim' would tell, if 4-3-3 was going to prove a better strategy, than 4-2-4.


1 A QB in possession has four downs to advance the ball ten yards or more to get it into their opponent's end zone for a TD.