Big Bad Wesley Brown, Manchester United V Sunderland, 5th of November 2011

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.

A boisterous away support started singing “you urnly sing when you’re winning” just after the goal, but they really excelled themselves during half time. Old Trafford MC, Alan Keegan played a dreadful dirge that had been written in tribute to Ferguson. As thick skinned and hard faced as I am, I was cringing listening to it whilst over my right hand shoulder, I’m watching Sunderland fans swaying to this tune. It’s rare that I look on visiting supporters at Old Trafford with anything other than contempt but when I heard the Sunderland fans singing “what the fuckin’ hell was that” and with their hand waving, I found myself nodding in ammused agreement. They also shown some class when Danny Welbeck was substituted for Dimitar Berbatov, singing his name and applauding him off the pitch.

In a tense, forgetable and frustrating second half, the linesman signalled a penalty against United in the 65th minute after a penalty area scramble involving Ji Dong-Won, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Having not seen an action replay, I’ve no idea what the linesman saw wrong, all I saw was six of one and half dozen of the other but to Uniteds relief, the referee overruled the linesman.

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 ?