Man Utd Fans Blog: Welcome to the sometimes sugar coated, sometimes vinegar soaked opinions of a Manchester United season ticket holder of my height, weight and mindset.
On Saturday the 8th of November 1986 in front of a crowd of 13,545 at the Manor Ground, Alex Ferguson took control of his first United match, an abject 2-0 defeat to Oxford United. There have been many 2-0 defeats United have suffered since that day. There were enough bad defeats in his first four years. It was a period so turbulent in United’s history that it is to the credit of the much maligned chairman Martin Edwards, that United kept faith with Ferguson when a lot of people on the Old Trafford terraces were calling for his dismissal. For all the 2-0 defeats and other such crazy results in Sir Alex Ferguson time as United’s manager, he’d never been involved in a 5-5 draw, it was fitting really that Sir Alex’s time as United manager concluded with a game that encapsulated so brilliantly the great and not so great of his time as United manager. Before yesterday, the last time United had drawn a match 5-5 was in November 1895 when as Newton Heath, they recorded that score against Lincoln City at Bank Street in Clayton during A.H.Albut’s reign.
Sir Bobby Charlton coming out of the Sandwell Academy car park for yesterdays match (Photograph courtesy of Scott Murray)
Early on yesterday, we went into the West Brom club shop to find the programmes were being rationed to two per person. It transpired that West Brom had sold 5,000 of the programmes before midday which for them was unprecedented. On the same side of the ground, Lou Macari alongside former United and West Brom manager Ron Atkinson were sat outside a cordon talking amiably to passing fans whilst waiting to do a broadcast for MUTV. Shortly after, the United officials and team coach parked up in the Sandwell Academy across the road from the home section of the Smethwick End. David Gill came out and signed a few autographs, followed a minute later by Sir Bobby Charlton who along with his wife, was beseiged by fans seeking autographs. The security around Sir Bobby was lamentable. The autograph hunters whilst meaning no malice were clearly causing a nuisance to a man who let’s remember, is 76. There were some young reds with old school manners there who knew the score and ushered Sir Bobby through the throng, it was very pleasing to see. On the other side of the coin, there is a recurring problem amongst some people in United’s travelling support. They’ve read Tony O’Neill’s duology and Colin Blaney’s books and decided they want to make legends of themselves in a similar manner to O’Neill and Blaney. In other words, there’s a load of wannabe’s on the road following United whom are more interested in making their own folklore rather than supporting the team. I’m not going to get too self righteous about it going off at a match, if I see a pal of mine in mither I’ll be first in but there’s a difference between looking out for your mates scrapping against some gobby opposition fan and walking around like Liam fuckin’ Gallagher. Yesterday after the match, I saw a six handed group of late teens/early twenties United fans hassling some West Brom fan who had a five/six year old boy with him who was terrified. The lads mentioned in O’Neills book whilst not saints, never did anything like that. United fans used to be good at self policing and putting people like that right, it needs to start happening again because there’s too many people following United now who have the same shithouse and cowardly mentality of Leeds United fans.
Antonio Valencia crosses the ball which causes Jonas Olsson to score an own goal and make the score 2-0
Immediately prior to the counter attack which lead to Shinji Kagawa giving United the lead in the 6th minute, some knobhead from the United section threw a flare in the United penalty area as West Brom attacked. Next season we’ll probably get our allocation cut at the Hawthorns due to that, nice one dickhead. From there on in, United looked in danger of delivering a performance of mid to late 1990s vintage to sign off Sir Alex’s reign. For the second season in succession, United’s second goal at the Hawthorns was an own goal. Last season Steven Reid deflected an Ashley Young cross into his own net, this season Jonas Olsson deflected an Antonio Valencia cross into his own net on nine minutes. On half an hour following a brilliant dummy by Javier Hernandez, Alexander Büttner scored a classic full back’s goal, drilling the ball past the Glazer apologist former United keeper Ben Foster. Ten minutes after Büttner’s goal, James Morrison caught out a flat footed Phil Jones to pull a goal back for West Brom. Four minutes into the second half, Romelu Lukaku scored to bring the score to 3-2 past Anders Lindegaard whom for my money, was badly caught out on that goal. It wasn’t to be the last we’d see of Lukaku.
Sir Alex Ferguson aknowledging United fans after the match
United suddenly started playing again after that goal. Three minutes later, as if to say enough of this messing about, Antonio Valencia set Robin Van Persie up for his 30th and final goal of a phenomenal season to make the score 4-2 to United. Ten minutes after Van Persie’s goal, Ryan Giggs set up Javier Hernandez with a brilliantly simple cross to make it 5-2. With Paul Scholes being introduced on 69 minutes for his last ever match, it became immediately obvious that his United team mates were desperate for him to score. Javier Hernandez squandered a great chance on 70 minutes trying to set Scholes up for a goal. Whilst alas there was no Scholes goal in his last match, he did at least provide one of his legendary tackles in the 82nd minute on Claudio Yakob to get himself booked. This was in the immediate aftermath of West Brom scoring twice in 47 seconds with goals from Romelu Lukaku who caught Jonny Evans and Phil Jones napping and Youssouf Mulumbu who capitalised on hilariously inept marking to score from seven yards. Five minutes later, Romelu Lukaku completed his hat-trick by scoring a goal which will now surely finish Anders Lindergaard’s Old Trafford career.
One more for old times sake
This time last year, there was a mild depression setting in, City were deservedly champions and looked like they were going to be good for winning it again this season. Hardly anybody I know thought United would win the title last August, especially after that shambolic display on opening day at Everton. United through a relentless determintion combined with a complete implosion of discipline mixed with complacency at City have won the title by eleven points. I don’t know what the odds were yesterday on a 5-5 draw but I’d hazard a guess that it would’ve been something similar to what would’ve been offered on United winning the title by eleven points last August. Sir Alex Ferguson has now moved upstairs for a well earned retirement whilst as a parting shot, seeing off yet another managerial adversary in the outwardly genial Roberto Mancini. David Moyes should be given time to implement his ideas in a job which is easily the most intimidating in the footballing world. There is some doubt from reds whose opinion I respect as to whether he’s the right man but he’s what we’ve got so we’ve got to back him. What I do like about Moyes is that he takes no shit from anybody and he certainly has a great knowledge of the game. We can only hope it ends well. In the meantime, celebrate being champions again, now with two more titles than Liverpool. Last summer’s experience should make us cherish it all the more. CHAMPIONS
United manager elect David Moyes along with Sir Alex Ferguson and kitman Albert Morgan arriving at Carrington this morning
Thanks to Pete Barry and Neil Meehan for discretely pointing out any errors I’ve made this season. Thanks to Kate Vickers for grammar proof reading the blog, any grammatical errors that you come across will be because I’ve not had the patience to wait for Kate to read it (including the blog composed above). Thanks to Craig Johnson for sorting out any technical problems that occur on the website, the kind that would give me a migraine. Thanks to (in alphabetical order) Pete Barry, Danielle Bergen, Sally Beswick, Daniel Burdett, Barney Chilton, Gareth Edwards, Carlos Garcia, Pete Garton, Craig Johnson, Gareth Jones, Anthony McCormack, Andy McMinn, Neil Meehan, Sarah Moss, Scott Murray, Josh Norton, James O’Neill and Lee Thomas for allowing me to use their photographs throughout the season.
For transport to away games throughout the season, thanks to Steve Armstrong, Steve Black, Ray Harney, Billy Murphy, Peter Murphy, Scott Murray and all involved in the RI/UWS Monkey Bus
Only once have I managed this season, to get an away ticket in my own right through the ballot (West Ham in the cup). On some occasions I’ve ended watching the match in a pub local to the ground (Everton and Arsenal) and on other occasions, I have somehow ended up in the ground without the need to show a ticket. For them times when I’ve been sorted out with a ticket, my thanks go to, In alphabetical order, Pete Boyle, Pete Garton, Chris Jamieson, Craig Johnson, Malcolm Hancock, Ray Harney, Shane Lowe, Scott Murray, Lee Thomas & Mark Woods for sorting out them tickets out to away matches at various points of the season. Most of all, thanks to everybody who has read this blog and left comments, complimentary or otherwise. Next blog regarding United will be from Sydney in July; have a great Summer.
Celebrating reds on the scaffolding on Deansgate (Photo courtesy of Sarah Moss)
Whilst there was no real feeling of trepidation, there was a real feeling of there being the end of an era at Old Trafford yesterday. It was no great surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson had decided to retire as United manager but the way the news broke on Tuesday, through the medium of Twitter was a typically cack handed way that United handle media matters. By sheer coincidence, the revelation of Wayne Rooney’s second transfer request in three years came out the following day. With the announcement of Ferguson’s retirement and in recognition of the era ending implications of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, United put a defiant montage up on the front of the Scoreboard End (shown below) which was dripping in unintended irony. Wayne Rooney was at the fore of the image, the likelihood of him being part of that continuation is hanging in the balance. We all know that David Moyes will become United manager from July 1st, that’s the same David Moyes who succesfully sued Wayne Rooney for libel in 2008. The image was hastily taken down overnight from the East Stand so when United’s Champions parade commenced, the image had in great Stalinist fashion, vanished. Read more →
I can only hope that if United had something lying on this game, it would’ve been a better performance than the limp disgrace that was served up today. As bad as United were, Chelsea were equally so. The fairest result would’ve been a 0-0 draw but a Juan Mata shot on 86 minutes which deflected off Phil Jones gave Chelsea a 1-0 win. The most disappointing thing about the match was that United could’ve thrown a spanner in the works for Chelsea’s attempt to qualify for the European Cup next season and allow proper football clubs like Tottenham and Arsenal in. Due to United’s piss poor performance, we’ll probably yet again have these classless no-marks polluting Europe’s premier football tournament next season. After the match, more than one of my fellow reds said that they felt cheated by the display from United while others were seething over David Luiz being the cause of United’s first red card of the season. A combination of Rafael’s naïveté and the rat like guile of his poodle headed compatriot David Luiz, saw to Rafael being sent off by the usually very good Howard Webb. Last month, Sergio Aguero did a very uncharacteristic two footed assault on David Luiz. I said at the time that the biggest regret I have at that is that Aguero didn’t actually cause Luiz a serious injury. That Luiz can ellicit such a reaction from a placid and decent natured lad like Aguero says everything about the type of twat that Luiz is. In Howard Webb’s defence, a Chelsea win has probably saved him from having some spurious career threatening allegation slung in his direction, a regular occurrence from that cesspit of Russian financed poison, when they lose.
Robin Van Persie slicing a Ryan Giggs cross, this picture perfectly sums up the match Read more →
Three weeks ago, United played City and for the first time ever, I didn’t see a single ticket tout working a United game. The same thing happened yesterday at Arsenal’s stadium at Ashburton Grove. The circumstances though between the two games and lack of ticket grafters were radically different. For the derby, the local plod had decided on a zero tolerance policy for the enterprising free marketeers who work on Warwick Road, doing as the government tell them to do by going out and earning a living. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Yesterday at Arsenal, I did not come across a single person selling a ticket until the game had kicked off. The concourse was flooded with reds desperately trying to get tickets and there was absolutely nothing about. Through desperation, I tried jibbing my way into the ground. Twice I got in and twice some over-enthusiastic and underpaid jobsworth woke up at the very second I didn’t want them too. On the third attempt, I was clocked by a Policeman who’d saw me getting kicked out five minutes earlier. After he compared me to a feature of female genitalia, he advised me in Anglo Saxon language with all the humour you’d expect from a copper that I’d be spending some time courtesy of his friends and her majesty at Blackstock Road Police station if he saw me again. I didn’t want that to happen as they have a habit of releasing people minutes after the last train has left so you don’t even get a nights stay out of them. With resignation, I was walking towards Holloway Road to find a pub showing the match when I bumped into an Arsenal fan who offered me a spare for £200.00. Seconds after I told him this amateur once a season tout which orifice he could place his ticket, I heard a faint cheer go up and I was convinced United had scored. Due to the local mobile phone masts going berserk, it was a good five minutes before I could phone somebody to be greeted with the news that it was actually Arsenal who had scored with a goal by Theo Walcott. Read more →
With City’s not entirely unexpected defeat at White Hart Lane yesterday, this meant that t-shirt printers were frenzedly printing up champions t-shirts from this morning, ready for the baying masses at Old Trafford tonight. After the final whistle, listening to the United fans trying to reach the high bits of We Are the Champions by Queen still brings a wry smile to my face. The post match celebration on the forecourt near the statue of the Holy Trinity was one that I will remember for a long time. Flags were flying high, there was a football being kicked high and wild into the celebrating crowd and a joie de vivre amongst reds that was infectious. Even the coppers, not usually people to encourage a good time, were laughing. The swagmen were walking round doing steady business and the fanzine sellers were trying to sell me a fanzine I’d already bought when United played City a couple of weeks ago. Over the years United fans have at certain times been a bit blasé about winning the title but tonight was not one of them occasions. It obviously takes a despised rival winning the league to remind us just how special it is. We can only be grateful that Liverpool haven’t won the title since 1990, that would be unbearable. It is even sweeter that the scousers blew a good chance of winning the league in 2009. City won the title deservedly last season even if the circumstances were a little bit painful, there’s no doubt in my mind that the right team won it. It meant that I’ve not wanted a league title as badly as this since 1993. This season, the right team again have won the title, it nearly always is. (Blackburn in 1995 being the obvious exception).
Scoreboard tells everybody in the ground who wasn’t aware that United are now champions (Photo courtesy of Gareth Jones)