Arnold: We can look to Germany
Thu, 25 Apr 2013 18:17:00
Robert Lewandowski says he has played better than his four-goal performance against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.
The Borussia Dortmund striker helped his team to a 4-1 win over Jose Mourinho's side with the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu to play on Tuesday.
It puts the Germans on the verge of a Wembley final, but the much coveted 24-year-old does not believe the job is finished.
He told Polish TV: "Real are definitely strong enough to win the second tie 3-0. But we will not let them do that
"Obviously we regret conceding one goal which came from our mistake. Luckily, we could score four, but we know that the rematch will be a much harder game."
The Pole has received worldwide acclaim for the goals that secured the win, but Lewandowski was keen to play down his performance.
He continued: "This wasn't the game I felt the best in. I have played better games. I had 100% efficiency in front of goal but I feel I have played better games in my career."
But he was playing well enough to volunteer to take the crucial penalty in the second half
"I was scheduled for penalty duty in the Bundesliga, whenever I felt well," he said. "I felt very confident. The most important thing is that I scored it."
Staggering Champions League victories for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in midweek and the prospect of an all-German final at Wembley on May 25 have shone a light on how differently the Bundesliga operates compared to England.
With cheaper ticket prices, safe standing, match tickets affording free rail travel, a 10 per cent allocation to visiting supporters and, crucially, a competition run at a profit, Germany is viewed as a utopia for football fans.
There are issues Arnold takes exception to.
However, better fan consultation is not amongst them.
"I think some of the work they do on fan communication and fan consultation are areas that we can learn from," said Arnold.
"We will continue to strive to improve in those areas."
Arnold's words are important because once chief executive David Gill stands down at the end of June, he will take over responsibilities for running the day-to-day Old Trafford operation as group managing director, with London-based Ed Woodward dealing with team affairs.
It holds out hope for more interaction between the club and supporters, beyond the current Fans' Forum initiative, which some believe to be ineffective anyway.
Not that United are set to slash ticket prices to German levels any time soon given the vast scale of their support, although they have recently announced a price freeze on season tickets, a blow to revenues that will be cushioned somewhat by a massive new TV deal and the continuing expansion of their sponsorship portfolio.
Contracts with leading Japanese social gaming company gloops and Vietnamese bank BIDV have been announced in the last 48 hours. Yet United's status as football's number one commercial enterprise took a blow earlier this year, when Bayern released figures that showed the German champions' commercial income to be ?160million, dwarfing the Red Devils' ?117.6million.
"Bayern Munich are a very successful club and very well run," said Arnold.
"But the way they reported their numbers meant their corporate hospitality sales are included in their commercial figures. It means on a like-for-like basis we are significantly larger on our commercial business.
"But there are some things that the German clubs do very well. This year on the pitch. Off it we look for every area of improvement we can. They are no exception to that."
Despite Gill's impending departure, United are set on a long-term course that will not alter and continued success on the pitch, whilst clearly desirable, has only minimal effect in the short-term.
This will be seen when United eventually come to agreeing a new kit manufacturing deal given the present one, with Nike, which nets the club a basic ?23.5million a year, runs out in 2015.
It has been claimed Warrior, whose introduction into the footballing sphere has come through Liverpool, are keen to forge ties with United.
Nike's instantly recognisable name puts them in a strong bargaining position, and they are already in an exclusive six-month negotiating period.
However, given United have announced an enormous shirt sponsorship with Chevrolet, and present sponsors AON have agreed to pay ?120million over eight years for naming rights to the Carrington complex and the club's training kit, they will expect a massive increase on the current manufacturing contract.
"It is a hugely successful business and the partnership with Nike has been very successful year after year," said Arnold.
"You see the growth we are achieving from the results we report and during the work we did to list the business, you saw the millions of items that are distributed around the world.
"That deal is a hugely important part of our business and it is an exciting time on that front."
Having worked so closely with Gill, there had been some chatter Ferguson might decide to call it a day this summer as well.
That is not going to happen, with all indications that the 71-year-old retains as much enthusiasm as ever on the back of an incredible 13th Premier League title triumph.
Arnold is not minded to discuss when the Scot may eventually step down.
But he is certain the Glazer family will approach the momentous day in exactly the same sure-footed manner they have dealt with most things since their controversial takeover in 2005.
"Continuity, loyalty and teamwork are things that categorise Manchester United on and off the pitch and in every aspect of our business," he said.
"You can't work in any other way.
"One of the areas where our owners have done a fantastic job is making sure those traditions are maintained and we have stability in all aspects of our business.
"It is not for me to say when Sir Alex will or won't stand down but when that time does arrive I don't see why you would expect anything else from Manchester United."