Is That The Programme?

There was an air of uncertainty and discontent in 1987 as Red News first graced Warwick Road with its presence. The magnitude of the job Alex Ferguson had in front of him was becoming increasingly apparent and whilst it was early in his incumbency, such was the turbulence of Manchester United’s season, there wasn’t 100% confidence on the disgruntled terraces of Old Trafford that he was the man to repair the debris left to him by Ron Atkinson.

30th anniversary edition of Red News, where this piece was originally published

In the wider world, Margaret Thatcher’s government were continuing their vendetta against football fans. One of these ideas was to make every football supporter carry membership cards for the club they were affiliated too when attending matches. It was around this time that United introduced their own shitty membership scheme, the benefits which included 10p off a pencil rubber in the newly fangled superstore for the commencement of the 87/88 campaign. One of the most controversial measures of this scheme was making the Stretford End terrace members only, where the Stretford Paddock was fine for anybody who wanted to attend. This resulted in a lot of refuseniks (this writer included) moving over to the Paddock and it’s also this writer’s opinion that the Stretford End was never quite the same after this. Continue reading Is That The Programme?

Gorse Hill Sunset’s Fine – Manchester, 16th December 2016

“Busted flush”, “Jose hates Manchester and is miserable”, “City are going to romp the league”, “it’s our year”, which came ad-nauseum from the scousers and this, was all before bells of October tolled for Manchester United. We were finished, an empire crumbling with all the drama of Rome in 476AD and writing this just before Christmas, it has to be admitted that United have had some disappointing results since August. Drawing at home to Stoke City, Burnley and conceding stupid late equalisers against Arsenal and Everton Continue reading Gorse Hill Sunset’s Fine – Manchester, 16th December 2016

Oh The Simple Pleasures – Manchester, 17th May 2016

The recent fiasco at Old Trafford summed up United’s season in one very handy microcosm. A farce of comical proportions occurred when a mobile phone with wires hanging off it was found taped to a pipe in one of the executive suites. I can understand the worry when first seeing something like that and I don’t blame whoever it was for alerting the authorities. However, anybody who has ever tried using a mobile phone in Old Trafford will tell you, it would’ve been impossible to detonate due to the abysmal signal in the ground. If it was a real bomb and somebody would’ve tried setting it off, it would’ve gone straight to voicemail.

Every blue household, “LOOK, LOOK, EMPTY SEATS AT OLD TRAFFORD”…*logs onto Facebook*

The evacuation procedure itself was quintessentially British. Not a hint of panic on Warwick Road as people calmly walked away from the ground. The biggest worry from Reds was managing to get to the pub before the bars got rammed.

Bournemouth fans however were a different breed altogether – somehow blaming fanzine and swag sellers for the game being postponed. I suppose it’s the kind of reaction you could expect from a load of Tory-voting Southern mard arses. One great thing to have come out of Sunday’s postponement is that this lot will have had two 500 mile round journeys in the last 72 hours. Fantastic. Continue reading Oh The Simple Pleasures – Manchester, 17th May 2016

Joined The Choir Invisible

According to the fourth estate, the early part of Summer saw Manchester United rocked by Harry Kane staying at Tottenham Hotspur. We were shattered by David de Gea’s imminent departure (he hasn’t gone yet), snubbed by Paul Pogba and had more links than Houdini’s chains. United have been preparing, readying or launching bids for Uncle Tom Cobley, whilst at the same time getting rid of Paul Scholes’s replacement, Tom Cleverley… (having written that sentence, I suddenly had a choking fit).

In early July, Nani left United for Fenerbahçe. The Lisboan arrived in a huge fanfare of expectation in the Summer of 2007; some people claimed that he was better than Cristiano Ronaldo… (oh Christ, I’m off again). Nani looked like Michael Jackson but played football like Janet Jackson. A player of undoubted skill occasionally, he will always be remembered by me as a winger who took worse corners than Mads Timm and whose crosses would’ve been comfortably dealt with by a blindfolded Jim Leighton. To use the words of Brian Clough, he floated like a butterfly and he stung like one.

A seminal moment from Nani at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica da Luz in 2010. Cristiano Ronaldo turned Gerard Pique inside out, his exquisite goalbound shot from was gliding over Iker Casillas’s head and into the net. Nani decided to add the finishing touch, from an offside position. Ronaldo’s reaction was priceless

Another player joining Nani in Kadiköy is Robin van Persie, who has left United after three seasons. He came to Old Trafford having turned down a better offer from Manchester City (quelle surprise), and Continue reading Joined The Choir Invisible

The scum that Ajax can’t clean. Manchester, 23rd of February 2012

At the final whistle tonight there was no happiness, no relief or any feeling of job done. The feeling around me in the south stand/B stand of Old Trafford was that Sir Alex Ferguson got away with this by the skin of his teeth. In regards to his team selection, It’s one thing taking Crystal Palace in the League Cup lightly, taking a struggling Blackburn Rovers side for mugs on New Years Eve just gone but it’s another thing altogether taking a team who are their national champions and a club who’ve been European champions four times. The recent form of Ajax, since the resumption of the Eredivisie from it’s mid winter break has been lamentable. They did though give United a moment or two last week in the Amsterdam Arena to show that they were not going to despatched easily, even if United won 2-0 on the night, with a now priceless goal from Javier Hernandez, five minutes from time.

Five minutes into tonight’s game, Hernandez scored again to put United in an apparently unassailable 3-0 aggregate lead. Ajax, urged on by a noisy travelling support deservedly equalised with a low shot from Aras Ozbiliz on 37 minutes. On 86 minutes of a predominantly quiet and anxious second half, Toby Alderweireld put Ajax in front on the night and ensured a twitchy last few minutes at Old Trafford. The strange thing after Ajax scored was there was no urgency to their play. I got the feeling from the Ajax team that they thought there was 20 minutes left.

Sir Alex Ferguson admitted in his post match interview that he got his team selection wrong. He stated that the defence wasn’t strong enough. I respect that opinion but I can only recall one occasion where United’s defence were caught out badly and that was on Ajax’s second goal. The much criticised David De Gea pulled off at least two world class and with hindsight, tie winning saves.

Sir Alex Ferguson post match press conference

Before the match, there were rumours flying around with the same vigour that the Police helicopter was hovering, about shenanigans involving Ajax fans. There were all kinds of brave random attacks on office workers and shoppers and the coup-de-grace was them smashing up the Binary Bar on Arundel street in Hulme. This is the kind of place used by residents of the adjoining flats and not the place where they’d find any of United’s more lively fans. Ajax fans in the ground tonight impressed with their noise and fervour, their shithouse behaviour around the town and it’s immediate suburbs reminded me of the time Leeds United fans terrorised a load of pensioners on Bournemouth beach in May 1990. Ajax are a club who’ve provided some of the most enjoyable teams the world’s ever seen play football. From what I’ve seen and heard in the last week, their fans are the very antithesis of the team they watch. I think the next time they get drawn against United in a European game, like Roma in 2007, they’ll get a very warm reception in Manchester.

Ajax leave a bad stain on the Binary bar in Hulme