Jose Mourinho is in a funny position at present. This time not with the owners of MUFC, but with the fans. As recent as last week, Jose was seen by the sky cameras, shushing his lips, aimed at the fans for booing Lukaku’s recent performance and the substitution of Marcus Rashford for the eventual match winner, Tony Martial.
Now Jose is telling people to stay calm, relax and trust him, which is fine. The problem their is while all the time United were swatting away teams in the early season by the 4 goal margins, just lately, performances have been a little hard to come by.
The missing Paul Pogba, has caused a difference in the set up of the side. But lets not take anything away from the team as it has been a massive improvement on the last four years, domestically, I digress. The atmosphere at Old Trafford has reportedly become a talking point, first with the boo’s and now with Jose, touching on it with his programme notes.
Now here’s the thing. The problem with top-flight football is that with all the money circulating in football at the moment, the common football fan can no longer afford to watch their local Premier League side week in, week out. Thomas Cook, and other ventures such as Seatwave etc, buy up the tickets that are left on general sale, and sell them on at a hefty price to anyone who’s interested.
Don’t get me wrong, there is always a bulk of fans that will be season ticket holders, the rest though is a free for all. United’s away support is brilliant. Singing from the first minute to the last. Recent seasons though at Old Trafford have showed that there is a decline in a rigorous home support. An early goal is always a plus, but of that doesn’t come, the Stretford End, which has grown in executive capacity, begin to grow restless.
United introduced a singing section. An experiment in which to improve the atmosphere at home matches. The acoustics were also looked at. Top of the range PA systems put in place. Unfortunately, at the moment there just doesn’t seem to be the same vibrant atmosphere for home matches.
Millions of people flock to the UK every year to visit various places of interest. Theme parks, castles, zoos, art galleries and other historical hot spots all come under the same description, they are tourist attractions. Add to this list now some Premier League football stadiums. With stadia growing bigger by the decade, the demand to put bums on seats increases, and it seems that any old (or young) bum will do!
Manchester United have had a capacity of around 75,000 now for about ten seasons and, apart from the odd League Cup tie against lower league opposition, tend to sell out week in week out. Now Mr Owner/Chairman will be rubbing his hands together at the thought of pound notes lining his pockets from the masses of people in attendance, but how many are actual locals, UK citizens even? A large proportion of people will be season ticket holders, then followed by members and finally general sale, the real free for all. People from all over the world sitting side by side in unison cheering on their heroes. So does it really matter where the money comes from as long as someone buys the ticket?
Like Manchester United, Arsenal also pretty much sell out every game at their beautifully designed Emirates stadium. 60 odd thousand Wenger in/out punters all parting with some serious cash to watch The Gunners shed blood sweat and tears to finish… 4th. Large sections of the crowd are dominated by tourists from all over the world. Many of these day trippers are paying ridiculously over the top for tickets which at face value sell for no more than £60.
Anfield last season, saw the completion of the new main stand taking the capacity to over 54,000. As recent as last season following their defeat to Championship club Wolves in the FA Cup, a fans video had gone viral, airing his displeasure of atmosphere in top-flight games. His points made were again around too many day trippers who are not that interested in how Liverpool were performing, just posing for selfies and making sure they had their half and half scarfs as a token reminder of said day. Again, to the football club itself, do they really care who sits in the seat as long as someone does?
West Ham have moved into their nice shiny new pad in the summer 0f 2016 and having experienced it myself, can vouch for them joining the dreaded 50k club. As a recurring theme for this post, it seems that any club whose capacity exceeds the 50,000 seats mark, tends to have the day tripper stamp all over it. One unhappy Hammer commented on BT Sport Football that there was a lad sat in front of him in the Home supporters end wearing a Barcelona shirt and dabbing every time Manchester City scored! This was during last seasons 0-5 defeat in the FA cup. Now had this been at Upton Park, I’m pretty sure this would not have been tolerated!
The only Premier League team, and a possible exception to the rule is Newcastle United. With a capacity of 52,000 and being the only team in the city helps. The majority of the crowd on home games are fanatical Geordies, mainly non-t-shirt wearing ones at that!
So beware Tottenham and Chelsea. Both are expanding their stadiums over the 50k mark and into major day tripper territory. Rumours circulating as I write this are that a large number of attendees at the currently small Stamford Bridge are already day trippers, although not to be confirmed! Having spoken to many Spurs fans who say a full White Hart Lane on match day was a brilliant cacophony of noise, they hope that by making their stadium bigger, although financially makes sense, doesn’t dilute the atmosphere. We wait and see. Money’s money at the end of the day, and as long as the turnstiles are turning and the seats are filling, I don’t suppose the top brass will really care who sits in them.