Inside Manchester United’s European Super League drama: How Bruno Fernandes, Luke Shaw intervened plans
The Super League drama that unfolded the past 48 hours produced twists and turns before plans eventually took a sudden pause as a result of top European clubs backing out of the competition on Tuesday, specifically the six clubs in the English Premier League.
Chelsea and Manchester City were the first teams to immediately express their intentions of leaving the breakaway league. Chelsea issued a statement late at night and after all the other clubs because they were involved in a league match against Brighton Hove and Albion. Man City, who were the first to file a statement to the public, opened the door for the other Premier League clubs involved to express the same sentiment. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham soon followed.
From a behind-the-scenes perspective, there were plenty of concerns in the Manchester United camp before they officially backed out. The only executive to have resigned before Wednesday was Ed Woodward, who will leave his position as executive vice-chairman of the club at the end of 2021.
On Monday, Woodward had a direct meeting with Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw to represent the team. No other United executive joined Woodward. It’s also no coincidence that the Portuguese, who is one of the most active players of Manchester United squad with great leadership, was one of the first top players in the world to publicly address his feelings against the Super League hours following its announcement.
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Fernandes, along with Shaw, personally explained to Woodward on behalf of the team that the Super League project was considered unacceptable for all players, as well as fans. Their stance? Football belongs to everyone, not just the best clubs in the world.
Fernandes and Shaw’s expressed sentiment, along with the public outcry from fans all over, made an impact. So Manchester United, as a result, considered a change in their position and backed out of the Super League, a choice that was then announced in the late hours of Tuesday in the United Kingdom.
“We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the U.K. government and other key stakeholders,” the club said in a statement.
“We remain committed to working with others across the football community to come up with sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game.”
The impact of the players has played a pivotal role in the Premier League exodus. Even at Liverpool, Jordan Henderson and all his teammates asked the club to retire from the Super League as soon as possible. Fernandes and Shaw may not have been the only cases, but they held one of the strongest, most convinced and clear arguments against their own club during these past couple of crazy days for European football.