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Manchester United and AC Milan think their brands entitle them to success. Screw them.

European soccer's two biggest failures deserve your ridicule.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Brands are the worst thing in the world. Mostly because they're seeping into everything and robbing you of part of your life on a daily basis. Lots of things that we used to be able to enjoy free of brand interference are now littered with constant advertising. One of those things is soccer.

As admirable as the #AgainstModernFootball gang is, they're not really going to get anywhere. Soccer was irreversibly commercialized a long time ago and there's nothing we can do about it. But that's mostly OK, because sports are competitive, and you have to be the best at your sport to be the most successful. A crappy toothpaste manufacturer can acquire a massive market share on the back of excellent branding, but it's impossible to win the Champions League without being really good at soccer.

The proof is in the hilarious downfall of Manchester United and AC Milan. They were once the two biggest clubs in European soccer -- formerly even bigger than Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich -- but they both totally stink right now. They're very mad about this because if they stink for a long enough period of time, it might actually damage their brands. If they were no longer the most internationally recognizable Premier League and Serie A club, respectively, that would be a huge problem. They can't afford to lose thousands of supporters that don't have family connections domestically and tens of millions of fans internationally.

To get out of this rut, they could use their brand names and money to hire the best soccer minds in the world and put together a multi-pronged approach to footballing dominance that incorporates scouting, deep video analysis, statistical analysis, youth development and an intelligent transfer policy. That's all really hard to pull off, even if you're rich, so they'd rather make the case that they deserve a permanent spot in the Champions League on the basis of being huge brands.

You probably shouldn't get too worried about this. These clubs have just floated their idea, not made a formal proposal to the European Clubs Association, meaning the ECA hasn't proposed anything to UEFA yet. If United and Milan do somehow get the ECA to go along with this really bad idea they've floated, UEFA would have to be extremely concerned about an imminent breakaway European Superleague to seriously consider this proposal. Not to get all concern-trolly here, but it would do more damage to the sport than FIFA corruption and Rupert Murdoch combined.

And we shouldn't get too mad at the clubs who are in favor of this, because every company ever is interested in self-preservation and risk-mitigation. Of course big clubs are going to float an idea that would ensure a £50 million money faucet stays on every year without them having to do any work to keep it flowing.

But we can make fun of them for being crap and looking for a way to reap the rewards that you get for being good at soccer without actually being good at soccer. That United and Milan are the clubs that brought up this idea in the first place is telling. They clearly don't have any confidence in themselves to turn their #brand into another spell of dominance.

At least Chelsea and Liverpool and Inter Milan, for all of their faults, believe in themselves. United and Milan believe in the value of their brands, which, in a just world, would be absolutely nothing. So screw them. As long as they refuse to innovate on the pitch, in their youth academies and in their front offices, they deserve to rot in mid-table and lose money. This proposal just makes it easier to take joy in their failures.


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