Troubled times at Manchester United
"In a dark, dark wood, there was a dark, dark house and in that dark, dark house..."
So begins a book from my childhood. But as I write - I feel the rhythm of those words echoing deafeningly in my ears as I assess the state of affairs at Old Trafford.
Manchester United fans have endured a dark, dark week, which has followed a dark, dark couple of months which has resulted in a very dark, dark season - with the ominous figure of Malcolm Glazer blocking out most of the light.
The acceptance of Glazer's offer for their shares by the Coolmore Mafia will, I'm sure, be a pivotal moment in the history of one of the giant's of English football. I have no doubt that Glazer will now acquire the remaining shares - his relentless pursuit of United seemingly successful.
As has been said by most observers, Glazer is no Roman Abramovic - his offer for United shares being funded largely by debt - debt which United will be saddled with once his takeover is complete. Glazer is a business man and wants to make as much profit from United as possible. Not only will the fans have to cough up to pay the debts back, but United could be the next Leeds - a time bomb just waiting to explode if repayments cant be kept up.
I'm praying that somehow Glazer's bid falls flat - but its time to take stock of what this new era at United will mean in the short term. The efforts of Shareholders United and other supporters groups will , one can only hope, have made clear to Glazer that fans are still a major influence at Old Trafford - and he cannot alienate them if the Manchester United brand is to remain successful. Glazer is also seen as a hero in Tampa where he turned the Tampa Bay Bucaneers from no-hopers to Superbowl winners. Transfer funds will be injected this summer - all United fans will agree that this is much needed. But even as I write, I feel I'm clutching at straws. An enormous sense of foreboding - of imminent danger - is all around me.
Yesterday's events have largely overshadowed a dismal end of season for United on the pitch. Outclassed by an under strength Chelsea, I will never forget the look of disappointment on those few fans who had remained at Old Trafford after the final whistle on Tuesday (however bad the season, the fans should have stayed) mirrored on the faces of the players. But I also saw a hint of determination in the eyes of the players - they know they will perform better next season.
The must perform better next season.