Belfast Telegraph

Reds popularity won't dip - Robson

Former Manchester United skipper Bryan Robson does not believe a combination of the loss of their Barclays Premier League title and rivals' superior spending power will have an adverse affect on the Red Devils' popularity.

With City and Chelsea also splashing the cash and Paris St-Germain, backed by huge investment from Qatar, also qualifying for the Champions League, there is a fear amongst some United supporters that the club's superiority is being seriously undermined.

Robson does not share the concerns telling Press Association Sport: "I don't see that at all. It has taken 50 years to build the tradition Manchester United has. Over the last 20 years, no-one can rival the success the club has had. Not just in football competitions but also with our fan base."

He added: "Yes, there are a lot of teams about with a lot of money backing them. But Manchester United will always stick by their policy of bringing players through the system and matching that by buying top players as well.

"We will always have challenges but money itself is no guarantee of trophies, as PSG proved this season, and we don't really have any concerns."

Earlier this week, United claimed to have research proving they have 659 million fans worldwide, the most of any club. They have followed that up by announcing a five-year partnership with US car giant Chevrolet to become the club's official automotive partner.

As the deal exceeds the one that has just lapsed with Audi, it will further help to swell United's expanding commercial arm, which is heading towards a further record sum this year.

Yet, for the fourth successive summer, a key transfer target has joined another club, with Eden Hazard opting to join Chelsea from Lille despite the obvious attractions of Old Trafford.

Twelve months ago Samir Nasri left Arsenal for Manchester City when the Blues eclipsed the salary he was being offered by United, before that Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil preferred Real Madrid.

However, it is anticipated Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa will complete his move in the very near future as Sir Alex Ferguson looks to strengthen his squad.

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