THE Boot Inn is probably not where Richard Arnold imagined addressing the current travails at Manchester United.
But on a sunny Saturday in Willington, Cheshire, it was to where he hot-footed it, to avoid a march on his house by dissatisfied Red Devils fans.
Credit the new United chief executive, who had been tipped off, for confronting the problem head-on having recently taken the reins of a footballing juggernaut that is now currently out of control.
The club is a shambles.
But under new boss Erik ten Hag and with sweeping changes behind the scenes, Arnold is trying to get things back on track.
This is what he duly emphasised in an impassioned impromptu pub garden address which he could not have thought he would be delivering that morning.
Arnold told the fans: “I haven’t promised anything I haven’t done — I don’t tell lies and I front the issues.
“I respect your passion and how you dealt with it. I need some help from you because otherwise I can’t do it.
“This sounds self-serving. We’ve not bottled you protesting. I love the passion of the fans. But it’s been horrible, even though the performances are bad.”
Those protests led to postponing a behind-closed-doors match with bitter rivals Liverpool towards the end of the 2020-21 season.
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They reignited as last season unravelled with the team finishing with its lowest points total in Premier League history and back in the little- loved Europa League.
Big names flopped badly and Arnold tried to present a case for the defence over England players Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who missed penalties in the Euros final against Italy and were subsequently abused.
Arnold said: “A lot of our players are young and they came back after a torrid time at the Euros. Rashford and Sancho… the abuse they got.
“They came back to a difficult season with the crowd on them.
“I’m not surprised their confidence is shot. I want to put us back together as a club and pulling to be successful.
“I’m going to do my bit and make sure the money is there — that’s all I can do.”
Last year was a f***ing nightmare. I was hating every minute of it.
Indeed, money has not been an issue despite the unpopularity of the owning Glazer family and the debt they have saddled the club with.
United have spent £1billion since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Yet they are in a worse state now than ever and Arnold admitted just that over a couple of pints in no uncertain terms.
Arnold said: “We’ve f***ing burned through cash. We spent a billion pounds on players, we spent more than anyone in Europe.
“I am not thrilled with where we are, it doesn’t sit easy and we’ve got to get this sorted.
“We’ve blown through an enormous amount of money.
“Last year was a f***ing nightmare. I was hating every minute of it.”
As indeed did those 12 fans present who were venting their ire as Arnold tried to placate them.
To redress the balance, United need a very good summer transfer market. The problem is the club is a tough sell right now and encouraging players to come to Old Trafford is harder than ever.
Arnold insists they are doing everything to get £70million-rated Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona.
He believes the deal will be done and also that of Brazilian winger Antony from Ajax.
Arnold said: “This summer, the money that the manager and director of football wants is there.”
Arnold’s appearance is something of a surprise as he does not want to be as public as his friend and predecessor Ed Woodward.
He wants to run the business but prefers the football department delegated to the likes of director of football John Murtough.
Arnold hinted as much, saying: “Do you want me buying the players? Doesn’t that ring a bell?”
It is not just the state of the team that has brought criticism but that of an ageing Old Trafford stadium and training ground.
And Arnold claims they need new investors to address that.
He said: “For the future, for investing in a new stadium and that sort of stuff, for a £250m training ground, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to get investors in.
“I need that to do what I want for the club — I’ve got to have more cash than I have now.”
Of course the big problem for the fans is the image of those who own their club.
The Glazers take financial dividends from what has become a failing business.
It seemed that even a frustrated Arnold was at the end of his tether with the situation.
He said: “The money has got to come from somewhere. You may not like them but if you want someone else to come in they have to love the club and the team.”
It was back in August 2005 when some fans approached Sir Alex Ferguson at a baggage carousel in Budapest to voice their disquiet over the Glazers’ ownership.
He suggested they could go and support Chelsea instead. Thankfully for the club, those supporters, and many like them, have kept the faith.
But the Glazers are not going away, as Arnold emphasised about their stoicism in the face of huge protests when they bought the club.
He said: “You know what it was like in 2005 and the pressure put on the owners not to buy the club, but they bought it anyway.
“If you think of them that way, they’re rock hard. They’re not frightened of people.”
The problem for Arnold now is that fans’ patience is wearing very, very thin.
As he found out in a pub garden on a sunny day in Cheshire.