It’s disappointing when former highly talented players become bitter as they age. Although he spent his best years in the blue of Manchester City, Mike Summerbee was a close friend and business partner of Manchester United icon George Best while he was also widely respected by most red fans. He now sadly seems to have developed a huge chip on his shoulder as he attacked the British media by claiming that it’s biased against his old club. That was just a few days after an embarrassing performance on Sky TV following United’s 2-1 win over City in which he confessed that “I did lose my temper a little bit”. Was that simply the frustration of yet another defeat at the hands of a hated rival or was it reflecting the strongly held bitterness felt by so many City fans?
In a week when Manchester United begin another Champions League campaign, we should remember one of the most blinkered decisions ever taken in the history of English football. When Chelsea won their first ever League title in 1955 they were forced to withdraw from the inaugural European Cup competition by the then Football League secretary Alan Hardaker who feared that the new competition would create too much fixture congestion. That shameful decision was not surprising because the British had a history of being suspicious of international football as shown by the fact that none of the home teams entered the World Cup until 20 years after its inception.
Football has undoubtedly changed in the last 30 or so years. The question that needs to be asked is whether it has changed for the better or whether it has chosen a road towards irrelevancy. Don’t get me wrong, football will still be played in front of huge television audiences but crowds in the various stadiums may well number in the hundreds instead of the thousands that currently pack places like Old Trafford.