As Man United supporters broke into Old Trafford and caused Sunday’s game to be postponed to protest their owners, FSG should have taken it as a warning.
There are times when the events around the game are more important than the game itself.
For Liverpool fans, there has rarely been a foreign and less interested atmosphere around a trip to Old Trafford, despite its ramifications for the Champions League race.
To be played in front of an empty stadium, even if the Reds win, they would hand their Premier League crown over to Man City, and with Leicester and Chelsea retiring, the chances of scoring a top four are slim.
It was less disappointing, then, that the maelstrom swirling around Old Trafford caused the game to be postponed, forcing Jurgen Klopp and his players to return to Merseyside.
Instead, the protests against the Glazer family – which United fans have opposed since their takeover in 2005 – should be viewed through the prism of virtue, even by those of a Liverpool persuasion.
Violence is never the answer, with scenes of fans damaging property, clashing with police and swinging goalposts while holding cans of Strongbow Dark Fruit, an ill-fated side spectacle that dominated the final pages.
But the message sent to United owners was vital, following an attempted coup by six of England’s biggest football clubs.
Enough is enough. The fans want their clubs to come back. Football is a community, not a commodity. It will never be theirs, it will always be ours.
The Super League was the tip of the iceberg for United fans, worn out by the lack of commitment between them and the Glazer family, who have used a historic club as a lucrative cash cow.
However, this provided the launch pad for an uprising, as the scenes from Stamford Bridge and the Emirates and the strong messages sent by players and managers themselves served as proof that fan action can lead to the change.
United supporters will undoubtedly be criticized for the way the afternoon unfolded, with the grim skirmish scenes drawing the cameras more than the calls of ’50 +1′ and ‘Glazers out. but they may well feel that there was little other option. .
When Liverpool fans launched one of their most successful protests against FSG, over their plan to raise ticket prices up to £ 77, their anger was shown in influx from Anfield, 77 minutes after the 2-2 draw with Sunderland.
But with Old Trafford closed to supporters, that was not an option on Sunday, and instead stepping onto the pitch and urging – for better or worse, due to safety concerns – to abandon the scheduled match sent a similar message.
There are many forms of protest, and the hope is that it will be successful and inspire not only a change in the United hierarchy, but a broader change in football as well.
Fans need a bigger voice, and while logistically a German-style 50 + 1 model is unlikely to be introduced, the events of the past few weeks should convince even the most stingy of owners. that their vitality is in the stands.
This is where FSG comes in.
It has now been 12 days since John W. Henry’s apology to supporters in the hours following the collapse of the Super League, in which he underscored his intention to “restore confidence” and “work in the best interests of the world. of your club ”.
Since then, the fury at the Liverpool owners has subsided, with calls to sell the club giving way to a ‘best the devil you know’ approach.
Club chief executive Billy Hogan – who is widely claimed not to have been part of the Champions League break-up plans – has pledged to meet fan groups and was spotted at Anfield for the draw 1- 1 with Newcastle.
Spirit of Shankly will share their concerns with Hogan on Tuesday, after reiterating their desire for “positive and meaningful change,” but there will always be reservations about whether that change will happen.
Unfortunately, like their United counterparts, Liverpool fans have been here with FSG before, and for many the Super League proposals were a bridge too far.
The £ 77 ticket plan was canceled and FSG was forgiven; the attempt to brand the word ‘Liverpool’ failed and the FSG was forgiven; the leave of non-playing staff was canceled, and FSG was forgiven.
But the follow-up to the Big Picture Project with the Super League left Henry, Tom Werner and Co. on thin ice.
Like United owners in the past, success on the pitch has masked the cracks for FSG with many of these cases, but there is a sense of real change around football now, and the protest at Old Trafford was proof of that. .
The FSG should see this as a warning that their actions have consequences and that supporters will no longer put up with the whims of their club owners.
Don’t forget that a win for United on Sunday would have kept their title hopes alive, and a postponed game would almost certainly disrupt preparations for a Europa League final in which they already have a foot and a half.
But their fans found it necessary to force the game to be called off, regardless of its impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players.
The same could certainly be seen outside Anfield, with the last years of Hicks and Gillett’s regime proving it, and with fan power becoming more important than ever, FSG will have to make real fines to ensure that this is not the case.
Engaging with supporters is the first step, but it cannot be a symbolic gesture – as Merseyside will see it through.