Watching the celebrating humbug resembling balloons supporting the toon on Warwick Road post match, I thought some of them were on the verge of giving birth, such was the vigour of the grunts and screams emanating from their mouths. I’m confident that today’s result will be soon etched on Newcastle United’s unburdened honours list alongside the signings of Kevin Keegan in 1982 and Alan Shearer in 1996, the 5-0 victory against United in the same year, as well as being the peoples champions when they blew a twelve point lead in the title race. Many years and many tears have been shed since then, enough to burst the banks of the Tyne and only the most churlish would begrudge them their day in the sun, like they had today. (trust me, if you’ve ever been to Newcastle, then anywhere south of Leeds is a day in the sun no matter what the weather). Continue reading In Serene Indifference – Manchester, 7th of December 2013
Walking down Stretford Road on the way to Old Trafford tonight, I had a gut feeling that the game I was about to witness was not going to be a classic. The smell of the doughnut van parked up on the junction of Stretford Road and Chester Road has left a stronger and more pleasant memory than anything I witnessed on the pitch. Halfway through the second half, the 700 or so pre-pubescant kids that were congregated in the L stand were engaged in a chanting competition with the Cluj fans. It was by some distance the most entertaining occurence on a night of football so indescribably bad and on a night so cold that it is believed that Vladimir Lenin was shivering in his Mausoleum. After the full time whistle I felt more inclined to applaud the kids in the L stand than anybody wearing a red shirt on the pitch. Cluj won with a fantastic 25 yard shot from Luis Alberto on 56 minutes but were knocked out of the Champions League due to Galatasaray’s win in Portugal. On 75 minutes, stadium MC Alan Keegan announced a crowd of 71,521 to laughs of derision from all around me. I don’t believe there was any more than 55,000 in Old Trafford tonight. Years ago, in the days of pay on the gate, squeezed in the Stretford Paddock and knowing there was at least 52,000 in the crowd, the crowd was sometimes underestimated to something like 45,000 and you knew somebody at Old Trafford was on a collosal fiddle. Nowadays it’s the other way round. Whoever came up with that crowd figure for tonight must’ve been the same person whom over the summer made the risible claim that United have 659 million fans worldwide. One more thing I learnt tonight was that with United avoiding a draw, it is now, According to Man United magazine columnist Steve Bartram, Uniteds longest run without a draw since 1896 (26 games). I bet that you really wanted to know that.
United side for tonights match
Both teams provided a guard of honour for Sir Alex Ferguson who was then introduced by a brief tribute from David Gill. A minutes silence followed for Rememberance Sunday and then the game kicked off in a rousing atmosphere. In another listless United performance, another victory was scratched out against a mediocre but difficult team to beat. Wes Brown, a distinguished centre half who’d made 362 appearances over fourteen seasons and scored five goals for United inadvertantly added to that tally today. He had a knack of scoring important goals including the first goal in a European cup match against Juventus in 2003. the winner against Liverpool in a league match in March 2008 and the winner against a stubborn Crawley Town in the FA Cup earlier this year, which saved United’s blushes. Today, as if almost a goodbye present to his old friends at Old Trafford, he scored what could be a crucial winner again for United but this time he put the ball in his own net in first half injury time. When he left United in the summer just gone, I’d guess that you would have got good odds at the bookies on him scoring again for the reds.
In 1993, when the Old Trafford stadium was reconfigured, all the stands in the stadium were officially renamed to the points of a compass. United claimed this was on health and safety grounds, we, the humble fans believed that the club were pissing on eighty three years of tradition in Orwellian newspeak. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson’s appointment, the club today announced that the North Stand, previously United Road, is now called the Sir Alex Ferguson stand. Now they’ve done that, can we now have the Stretford End back ?