(who’s afraid of a Charlie Steiner lookalike?)

From the Miami Herald’s Michelle Kauffman.

With all due respect to the passionate soccer fans in England, aren’t Manchester United supporters going a little overboard by burning effigies of owner-to-be Malcolm Glazer? Are they really giving the man a fair chance when they burn their ticket-renewal forms before the ink has dried on Glazer’s takeover bid?

And what about all this anti-Yankee stuff? Is that really necessary? Must one be European to own a soccer club or decide to participate in the world’s favorite sport? Would Dolphins fans be as outraged if a rich British businessman one day bought their beloved team? Doubtful.

Sure, anytime a new owner takes over a team there is reason for concern. There is legitimate concern ticket prices could soar, management will be shaken up, and, in this case, there is a chance manager Sir Alex Ferguson could walk if he doesn’t like what he sees.

But so far, the Glazer family has done nothing to indicate any of those things will happen. Maybe, just maybe, Glazer will turn out to be like Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the Russian tycoon who never had stepped foot on that club’s hallowed grounds before taking over a few years ago. Nobody is complaining about Abramovich, who poured mega-bucks into his team and is a big reason Chelsea now sits in first place in the Premier League — two spots ahead of Manchester United.

Besides, the Glazers have done wonders for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, turning a team that was once the laughingstock of the NFL (I know firsthand, having covered them for three years) into a Super Bowl champion. Analysts estimate the Bucs’ value has quadrupled to $779 million under Glazer’s ownership.

Opposition to Glazer’s ownership has less to do with his lineage (if Kauffman was paying attention she’d recall the outcry over Rupert Murdoch’s unsuccessful attempt to purchase the club) and more to do with suspicion that the new majority shareholder will be more concerned with with maximizing profits than anything else. Which isn’t necessarily so different than life under Martin Edwards and Peter Kenyon, but better the (red) devil you know.

Presumably, Kauffman, having covered the Buccaneers, is very familiar with their descent into mediocrity after winning one Super Bowl.

The Roman Abramovich analogy doesn’t hold water. The Russian zillionaire was eyed warily at first, despite taking over from the ferociously unpopular Ken Bates. And unlike Abramovich — who until this point has spent wildly in pursuit of football and hockey trophies — Glazer isn’t coming in to rescue a club with little recent success.