Bryan Robson has compared the Manchester United fans who invaded Old Trafford on May 2nd to hooligans.
The United legend was in the ground when it was invaded by fans on May 2nd, causing the club's game with Liverpool to be postponed. Now Robson has called on United fans to behave on their legitimate return to the ground tonight, calling the scenes earlier in the month "ugly" and comparing it to hooliganism of the 1970s and '80s.
There aren't many bigger legends at Old Trafford than the former "Captain Marvel." Robson's swashbuckling midfield style immediately made him a fan favourite at Manchester United when he signed from West Brom in 1981. He became the club's longest serving captain and, in the dog days of the 80s, was the shining light at United. By the time he left in 1994, he captained the club to two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners' Cup. He was also named in the PFA Team of the Year on six occasions between 1982 and 1989.
And so for Robson to call the protesting fans hooligans is sure to hurt for a number of long time Manchester United supporters.
Writing in his column in the Daily Mail, Robson described some of the behaviour of those who breached the security around Old Trafford as unacceptable.
I fully agree with the right to protest. We could all see a European Super League would not work, but I could not bear witnessing the ugly scenes I saw on May 2.
Look at the image of that injured policeman’s face. I’m all for the passion of Manchester United supporters — no one loves it more than me — but I can’t condone the aggressive behaviour of those who throw around bottles, cameras, rip up seat covers, swing on crossbars and then break into the dressing rooms, breaching Covid bubbles and putting people’s health and safety at risk.
Has the past year taught us nothing?
That had all the hallmarks of the hooliganism which marred our game in the 70s and 80s and there’s no place for it at United.
This club has a proud history. Its name is renowned around the world, it has an aura like no other and we need to protect that. We don’t want it tarnished by a mindless minority.
I was inside the stadium for five hours prior to the postponed Liverpool game as the protests built up and I saw how stewards and staff were frightened. It’s not their job to get into confrontations.
These are staff who are fanatical about their club, yet left frightened by their own supporters threatening to harm them. Even breaking into the training ground, what does that really achieve?
Robson goes on to talk about the needs of the players to have a proper preparation for games, that they can't answer for the owners, and claims that the protests have diminished the club's reputation around the world. Interestingly, he also blames pundits and the media for calling for protests, suggesting they should be more careful about what they say.
There are many who will argue that Robson has completely missed the point here. He's an ambassador for Manchester United, and cites Joel Glazer's letter to United fans and the collapse of the Super League as reasons to draw a line under protests. His call for normality, unity and tranquility is from a place of privilege within the Manchester United structure. He is certainly not seeing a need for revolution. If he thought, as he claimed, that he understood why the fans were protesting, would he have such a problem with what has happened? He clearly doesn't share the fans' desire for the upheaval of the structures of the club for the long term benefit.
Obviously, there were incidents that could not be supported on May 2nd that Robson alludes to in his column. Graeme Souness, who was also in the ground that day for Sky Sports, was also at pains to talk about this on the day. But should that behaviour become the entire story as the likes of Robson and Souness want it to be? Or should it be about the majority peaceful protest that caused a massive Premier League fixture to be postponed because football fans have had enough?
Bryan Robson may well have a very different perspective from the majority of those that idolised him for so long on this matter. #