Put football first
When Louis van Gaal walked through the manager’s door in July 2014 he was stunned at how the actual football had parity (at best) with Manchester United the Commercial Beast. We can be sure because the Dutchman chose, when answering the first question at his unveiling in Old Trafford’s Europa Suite, to state pithily that he knew “how important also the sponsors are” – an observation he repeated on the pre-season tour of the US. United have never had a Gulf state owner or billionaire backers willing to spend like Chelsea’s so the need to self-finance has been fundamental, but the pursuit of footballing excellence as the prime focus too often feels subservient to the financial imperative. For a snapshot take a peek at the 25-long list of global sponsors on the club website.