Photographs from Carrington immediately after Ryan Giggs’ appointment showed ‘Happy Valley’ under new management. Players were laughing and joking, Paul Scholes was back in the fold, even Bryan Robson put an appearance in to show the United family were all, um, united. I’m always suspicious of these photographs; they look like something TASS would have put out before the Cold War went warm. For all my suspicions of these photographs, there’s absolutely no doubt that Ryan Giggs commands more respect amongst that coven of a squad than David Moyes ever did.
Whilst Carrington was full of shiny happy people, Old Trafford yesterday certainly wasn’t. The pre-match optimism was quickly quenched by a turgid first half which was more memorable for the near civil war which broke out amongst Reds in J Stand than anything seen on the pitch. In the 23rd minute, a banner was unfurled in J Stand with the legend Loyalty = Eviction on it. This started off all kinds of angry finger pointing, and even angrier faces, screwed and twisted more than Shaun Ryder’s melon ever was. The left side of the J stand and nearby in the K stand started singing that You Can Stick Your Singing Section Up Your Arse*. There was a group of J-Standers who spent a couple of minutes trying to unleash the J-Stand Barmy Army flag, before they realised it was upside down and thus, having to start again. It was getting farcical as police and CES goons were frantically running up and down the stairs as well as yellow coated stewards who looked like extras out of Hi-De-Hi screaming all kinds of nonsense into walkie talkies. Most people in K Stand were transfixed with these goings on than the drivel on the pitch.
Wayne Rooney about to put United 1-0 in front on 40 minutes
The attention of the Scoreboard End was diverted back to where it should be, when in the 40th minute Wayne Rooney put United in front from the penalty spot after Danny Welbeck had his shirt pulled by Norwich right back Steve Whittaker. It put an undeserved sheen on a poor United performance against a staggeringly poor Norwich City side. The second half saw a dramatic improvement from United. Rooney slipped to his arse as he took his shot in the 48th minute after being given aeons of time by Norwich’s defence to put United 2-0 up.
Quarter of an hour later, Rooney tried a similar shot but the ball was well saved by John Ruddy. From the parry, Antonio Valencia passed to Phil Jones who crossed perfectly to an unmarked Juan Mata just inside the Stretford End six yard box. In the 73rd minute, Juan Mata made it four with a header from a bouncing Valencia shot from two yards out. The third minute of injury time saw Javier Hernandez fed with brilliant simplicity by Juan Mata to run clean through on goal. You would have put your house on Hernandez scoring in this position but he somehow put it wide of the far post, much to the relief of the bloke next to me who’d had 4-0 as his correct score.
Looking at Norwich’s run-in, yesterday could be the last we see of Norwich for a little while. Norwich fans are a paradox; they bring an impressive number of away fans bearing in mind the distance, a quantity that should bring shame to the pathetic amount that turn out for Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers et al when they’ve played at Old Trafford in recent times. For that impressive turnout, Norwich fans seem to have the same wit and intelligence as the infamously dim Aston Villa fans. One minute, they were singing ‘Liverpool’ in a risible attempt to get a rise out of United fans, followed swiftly by the now generic, tedious and predictable We Support Our Local Team. Which one is it boys?
As Chester Road was rumoured last night to have been brought to a standstill by a fleet of combined harvesters heading south to a their hometown and the smell of cow pat evaporated from the L stand, Norwich fans seemed resigned to their fate. They were, according to former pro-footballer and United fan, James Scowcroft, singing Ipswich Town, we’re coming for you. For the third time in succession, they were beaten 4-0 on a visit to Old Trafford. They were and remain staggeringly poor.
David Moyes wasn’t the right man for United but he has conducted himself with a dignity which should shame some of the so-called professionals in United’s squad and the senior management at Old Trafford. The rumour mill went berserk last Monday afternoon at about half past two. Every journalist who covers United for the national papers were frenziedly tweeting that Moyes’ dismissal was imminent. That the news was leaked eighteen hours before it was officially announced shows either how crass or clueless some very senior personnel are at United. As for the foreseeable future, the implications and ramifications of Moyes’ appointment will resonate around the corridors of United’s offices in Mayfair for some highly revered Old Trafford figures. According to Simon Stone of the BBC, “unlike twelve months ago, when the club accepted Ferguson’s recommendation that Moyes was the man to replace him, the Scot will be only part of the process this time.” The appointment of David Moyes and the carte blanche privilege Sir Alex Ferguson was given in that decision, will have the same effect on Sir Alex’s political influence as the veto Sir Matt Busby imposed on United signing Peter Shilton in 1976. Sir Matt never made an important decision again at Old Trafford after that, I would be surprised if Sir Alex has any real influence at Old Trafford again after this.
On Friday, David Moyes celebrated his 51st birthday whilst on holiday in Florida. At half past nine on Friday night, Moyes sent a text message to United We Stand editor Andy Mitten where he said:
“Would you please let it be known how much I appreciated the support I got from the real United fans. They were incredible. I am sorry I couldn’t give them the results they are all used to. Thanks. D Moyes.”
Buckscanary, as Delia once said, where are you? Come on!!