The Mail demands Canadian fealty for Manchester United

You want what we have

Discovered this via Duane Rollins’ 24thminute, a Daily Mail op-ed that magically conflates lukewarm Canadian interest in Manchester United’s visit to Toronto with a pube discovered on a hotel bar of soap. Apparently Canadian media outlets haven’t shown enough deference to a second-string Premier League side visiting for a friendly against Celtic, with tickets prices starting north of $90 CAD:

There was no escape from the 90-degree heat and stifling humidity when Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United players flew into Toronto from Chicago and little sign that the first match of their North American tour against Celtic on Friday night is attracting anything more than a ripple of interest locally.

The Toronto Star ignored the game completely despite giving a sizeable show to the reaction to Thierry Henry’s move to New York Red Bulls and Argentina’s offer of a four-year contract to Diego Maradona, while The Globe and Mail decided it was worthy of a paltry three paragraphs in the soccer round-up of their sports pull-out.

The local sports network preferred to focus on the Toronto Argonauts and their first home game in the Canadian Football League season, while running a particularly tragic feature about one of the Blue Jays baseball players on a seemingly continuous loop. It was poignant first time around but lost some of its dramatic effect when you saw it for the fourth time before breakfast.

The horror, that a Canadian television network would open with the Toronto Argonauts, a 137 year-old Canadian team playing for a Canadian domestic league in Canada, when Manchester United’s half-cocked visit—the Manchester United!—was clearly the bigger story.

To be fair, slagging this kind of piece—which presupposes the globally-accepted superiority of the Premier League in a way made fun of around the world—is like shooting fish in a barrel. But it’s telling that the one major similarity behind these kind of stories on North American soccer is that they omit any mention of MLS or its teams. As Rollins points out, Canadians aren’t stupid; we’re not going to pay hand over fist to see a United shit show when we have a real soccer club in town with indigenous support. That TFC draws 20 000 supporters a game, or even that the club exists, is ignored by the author.

In the end, United’s failure to draw fans for second-string friendly demonstrates how the old “Watch Soccer-Live!” selling point has lost its allure in Toronto over the last three years. If Man U had planned instead to play a friendly against Toronto FC, chances are the South Stand would still be in Toronto red, many of them chanting about the Glazers and “Manure’s plastic fans.”

Combined with the boos of Beckham that confused a gathered global press when he first visited with the Galaxy, plus the wonder at why BMO Field would erupt into cheers after Gabe Gala scored against Real Madrid last summer, United’s potential failure in drawing an affluent fanbase to the Rogers Centre demonstrates the enormity of the change Canadian soccer culture has undergone since TFC’s arrival in 2007.  The traveling circus attitude of some traveling clubs, and their embedded journos, no longer generates slack-jawed awe. If the English Premier League still wants to capture the hearts, minds and dollars of American and Canadian fans, it would do well to pay them a little more respect.

18 thoughts on “The Mail demands Canadian fealty for Manchester United

  1. SalfordJ

    So in what way are United not paying them respect? By not bringing players who havnt had a break for 13 months, who desperately need to be fit for the new season in weeks. Its called priorities. This a pre-season training tour, remember.

  2. Pete

    @SalfordJ: You’re missing the point completely. The author is examining the attitude of English journalists, not Manchester United.

  3. Ryan

    Salford, I don’t think anyone would blame Man U for not playing their best players. But if that’s going to be the case, they can’t turn around and blame Toronto for not coming out in droves to see this second-best squad.

  4. Kuba

    Exactly, the English press still thinks that the North American soccer audience is somehow young and naive. Fans in MLS, especially a market like Toronto, are not just going to come and “ooo” and “ahhh” because THE famous Man United has granted them the pleasure of paying absurdly high prices for the pleasure of watching them prepare for the season. Sure it’s nice for fans of these European teams to be able to see their teams with out having to travel all the way across the pond, but it is time to realize there is a soccer infrastructure here and we don’t need to go begging around to see it anymore.

  5. tony

    No the author in the article seemily instead show a lack of respect to not only united but to the journalists who gone over with them, as an arsenal fan i am sick of people using the phrase manure as this term in mere pathetic & disrepectful to utd who indeed are the biggest sports team in the world today & for that fact the past 50 yrs! im man enough to accept that fact. Utd have the right to give their kids some mins & the english press have the right to be in dismay at the lack of respect towards utd.

  6. Redrose

    Maybe Mr Whittal should not pay any attention to anything from the Daily Mail. It has become a good example of how a once fine newspaper can deteriorate once they put sales above journalistic integrity. They do not have reporters any longer, just hacks who need to create a story to fill the space and around which to plant a provocative headline.

  7. njndirish

    If this was the Guardian I would have gone nuts talking about how respect is a mutual thing, and the last time they respected Canadian or American soccer is unknown.

  8. Miguel

    Compare Toronto’s reaction to the visit of Real Madrid last summer, including the newly signed Kaká, Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso all playing against Toronto FC. The Canadian media were all over it, and the match was heavily promoted and carried live on TV.

  9. ursus arctos

    Which demonstrates that Toronto is one of the most sophisticated football cities in North America.

    Redrose is of course right about the Daily Mail, but the piece is bad even by their current “standards”.

  10. Simon

    Not to mention that the game was at the rogers center, which is a miserable place to watch baseball, let alone footy…

    Manure vs TFC at BMO… I’d be there.

    Manure vs Celtic at rogers center? Why waste my money…

  11. tony

    simon, its man united you filthy lil scumbag stick to your shitty canadian teams, you show respect when referring to an epl side like united…stinking clueless arrogant canadian twat, you dont even deserve see a team like toronto fc play never mind the very best.

  12. Micah

    ManU dropped a goose egg in Chicago a few years back against Bayern Munich. I guess the Daily Mail thinks the Manchester United brand trumps the Manchester United product on the field. For $90 they better offer up a worthwhile product.

  13. MikeV


    You call Simon arrogant while demanding he revere and respect your team simply because they are from the premier league. Irony.

    p.s. Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure Manure

  14. tony

    im sor mike but no1 gives a crap what a loser like u think u canadian crap, forever inferior to the usa in every way. ps- im a gunner u laughing stock, i recognize teams who deserve respect, u hadnt even the rights to mention they name neva mind insulting them…foreigner try supportin u lame canandian soccer- inferior to the usa in every way.

  15. MikeV


    I’m very American, although Canada is a lovely country. I do feel silly for getting in an argument with what is clearly a 12 year old, though.

  16. Alex Usher

    Liverpool v. Porto at the Rogers Centre six years ago, just after Porto won the EC and Mickey Owen’s last appearance in a Red shirt – that was a big deal – 40,000 plus of very passionate fans. But Toronto is saturated with these foreign games these days. Benfica v. Panathinaikos and Juve v. Fiorentina about two months ago – Inter v. Olympiakos later this month. It’s just not that big a deal.

    Real Madrid was a big deal becasue they were playing a Toronto team and b/c they were contractually obligated to play their big names. Had they shown up with a team of reserves to play Bordeaux at the Rogers Centre, the reaction would have been more or less the same as what ManU received.