By Michael Lewis
On Monday night, I appeared on the Soccer is a Kick in the Grass radio show and was asked my opinion about the Manchester United pitch invasion before the Liverpool game and some other subjects.
You can listen to the entire show, hosted by Andrew Battisti and Joe Sirianni at:
My segment is the final one of the show.
This is a written version of what I said:
My thoughts are nuanced and what I mean by that is I think fans have every right to protest outside stadiums and even during games inside stadiums and before games. That’s a problem.
I understand the situation with the Glazers (the Malcolm Glazer family, the team owner) for years I followed it. I might not be the last word but I followed it. Fan frustration, especially with the Super League and everything else with COVID and Lord knows what else.
But you invade the pitch before a game, that is not a good dynamic or sight for any reason in the world.
You have to question, Manchester United, security. I’ve been to the Old Trafford a couple of times before, by the way, I’m familiar with that grand old stadium. But you have to question their security. They might say “Hey, well, this has never happened before.”
Well, you better make sure it doesn’t happen again. You wonder if they drop points because of it. Or if they do play the game, maybe they have it played it at a neutral site.
It’s black eye for the sport, no doubt about it. We’ve seen too many pitch invasions in our time during a game, but I’ve never seen anything like that before again and again, I understand. Fans have a right to protest. We’ve seen it happen before, but that’s not the right way to do it, that’s why, that’s what I meant by a nuanced answer here.
Battisti noted that fans also invaded the practice facility of Manchester United and those are usually in very remote locations, remembering that he needed to take a train to zone five of the London tube system to where Tottenham Hotspur had its facilities.
Well, there are a lot of there are a lot of stadiums that are out in the sticks. in England. By the way I’ve been to the Manchester City training facility, way back in 2003 when Tim Howard joined the team. It’s in the middle of nowhere. I took a cab ride I don’t know how much it costs, but I had no tube system to get me there but it was well worth the time with Tim Howard.
Battisti brought up Jesse Marsch’s amazing ascension to RB Leipzig head coach for the 2021-22 Bundesliga season after he directed Red Bull Salzburg to several Austrian Bundesliga honors, including a cup championship this past week.
It’s a Red Bull hat-trick he’s done, the three big franchises with the team. I know that they have some other teams in other countries I think Brazil and Ghana if memory serves me correctly.
But you start with the Red Bulls. He had great success there. They don’t win an MLS Cup but they won a Supporters’ Shield with him in charge and then the year he left. They also won Supporters’ Shield with Chris Armas taking over as head coach. He goes to Red Bull Salzburg and wins, titles cups. Fantastic performance by him and here’s someone who I have learned the local language as well, too.
I feel like he’s on his way up all. The (New York) Red Bulls third division. Salzburg second division, and RB Leipzig first division. He’s inheriting talented team. There’s a player he knows very well there in Tyler Adams, whom he gave his debut with the Red Bulls. too. And you just wonder how many players is he going to bring over, perhaps from Salzburg, if he is allowed to do that.
I know I’ve said this before when Bob Bradley was named Swansea City coach. And we don’t have to go into that. That was a bad situation it was almost like he was set up to fail. But and I think very highly of Bob Bradley, one of the greatest U.S. coaches ever.
But hopefully this will help open the door for another coach who is ready to make that leap. You have to remember. I know it’s the same game played on the field, but it’s a different situation there when you’re in another country. If it’s a different language. If it’s you’re in England, even if that’s still a different language.
It’s different cultures, on and off the field, and you know there’s that trap door, don’t do well, and even favorites like Frank Lampard, who was fired by, Chelsea and Andrea Pirlo with Juventus, who is on the hot seat after the team failed to win the Serie A crown this year. But a big moment for U.S. soccer hopefully it will open the door for future coaches.
You have to be a special successful coach, and willing to embrace the challenge to do what Jessie Marsh has accomplished.