I am not the biggest fan of Manchester United, hell I’d rather cut my left toe off than shout for United, unless it was for the benefit of Arsenal. That being said there is one thing I admire about Manchester United and that is the way they have marketed their brand around the world.
This year they entered into a ground breaking sponsorship with DHL for their training kit and they are known as the 5th biggest sports brand in the world (behind American sports teams!) as well as the biggest football brand in the world. It was part of this sponsorship that saw the English Premier League trophy arrive at Soccer City, oops I mean FNB Stadium, last week Monday alongside United legends Gary Bailey and Quinton Fortune.
I was invited down for the press conference and an opportunity to meet the players and the trophy once held aloft by Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira. This was part of the DHL Champ19ns tour. DHL with Manchester United are in the process of taking the trophy to 27 countries in 5 continents to share their successful 19th campaign with the fans of the great club.
The process was started with Gary Bailey reading a message from Sir Alex Ferguson on the day of the Blackburn Rovers game. We were then invited to question them and for some reason the press took the opportunity to aim questions about the development of football in SA at Quinton Fortune, a man who has been in SA for 1 week. I asked Quinton and Gary if they thought that United would make it 20 this year, to which Quinton was confident that it would happen. Gary showed the years of experience in the media and answered me without ever answering me.
After the press conference part I got a chance to have a photo with the trophy and got closer to the ultimate prize in English football than Samir Nasri and the City mercenaries are gonna get this year. Gary is a very intelligent man about football, but in all honestly I found him somewhat boring. All his answers are so politically correct and he strives to not say something dodgy at regular intervals. Peter de Villiers could learn a lesson from him on how to deal with press.
Speaking to Quinton Fortune was all together entertaining. He currently trains with the Manchester United reserves to stay fit and is extremely keen on getting a chance to play again. He also speaks about Sir Alex Ferguson with the pride that a father speaks about his son. You can see this is a man who greatly values the opportunity he was given in life. I asked him who he rates from the current reserve squad and he jokingly declared Michael Owen. But seriously he had glowing praise for Jesse Lingard, Reece Brown and Larnell Cole, but also bemoaned the loss of Ravel Morrison, whom he thought was an amazing player. I finished off by asking him if Berbaflop is as lazy as he looks and was met with grin and a hand shake to say goodbye.
Manchester United will undoubtedly win their 20th title this year with the kind of display that highlights their status as champions. They have withstood the pressure from Man City and will once again be the number 1 team in the England. Yes, next year Man City or Chelsea or Arsenal even could win the title and be the number 1 team in the country, but they are all miles away from ever beating United to the number 1 team in the World.