If He Was Holding An Ace – Manchester, 25th of November 2013

Marouane Fellaini has now played ten times for United and he has impressed on precisely none of those appearances. Some players, like Roy Keane, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie make an immediate impact, others, like Gary Pallister, Andy Cole and David De Gea need a so called bedding in period. I really hope that Fellaini is of the latter. The harsh truth is though Fellaini needs to start asserting whatever midfield authority he has on games like the one United played against Cardiff. At the moment, he looks like a rabbit in headlights. It’s one thing being outplayed by Yaya Toure soon after you’ve signed for a new club, another thing altogether to be anonymous in virtually every other match since. The most damning thing about United’s midfield options however is that I would still pick a dazzled and dazed Fellaini over Tom Cleverley and Anderson. Continue reading If He Was Holding An Ace – Manchester, 25th of November 2013

What More Could We Ask For – Manchester 13th of May 2013

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 Continue reading What More Could We Ask For – Manchester 13th of May 2013

An Old Fashioned Charabanc…Islington 29th of April 2013

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. Continue reading An Old Fashioned Charabanc…Islington 29th of April 2013

Sky and Grass – Wigan 1st of January 2013

I hope Wigan go down, I really do. I’ve no particular dislike of the club but it’s not even a football town. Wigan’s most boisterous support comes from the Billy Boston stand, named very appropriately, after a legendary Welsh winger who played for Wigan rugby league club between 1953 to 1968. That boisterous support basically used a bass drum to attempt to create an atmosphere, God forbid they actually did it by singing, shouting or what have you. Can anybody think of a legendary Wigan Athletic player they could name a stand after? Wigan Athletic couldn’t so they named the stand I was placed in today after their old stadium, Springfield Park and the entire stadium is named after the shy, retiring and too modest Dave Whelan, a man who played for Blackburn Rovers. Wigan can’t even fill out their stadium for the visit of United, Arsenal or Liverpool and worst of all, they hold back 1,000 tickets of the usual away fans allocation for United’s visit, to sell as corporate packages at £125.00 a pop. The face value of the ticket is £28.00, this means that Wigan are basically charging United fans £97.00 for chicken-in-the-basket or some other shite just so we can watch the match. It’s extortion basically. There are ticket touts operating, strictly speaking, illegally on Warwick Road yet they don’t take the piss like this. Wigan are somehow, perfectly within their rights to do this. The attendance today was 20,342 which means that officially, there was 4,791 empty seats in the ground. If they say so, but it looked like far more. United fans were screaming for tickets for this match, but Wigan, being the kind of small minded club it is would rather have advertisements for a betting company covering seats in a prominent position for TV cameras than having arses on them seats. Clubs with a mentality like that have no place in the top league. Their ground is in the middle of bleedin’ nowhere, all the backdrop is of sky and grass and whenever they score a goal, they need the stadium MC to induce them to celebrate by playing  Tom Hark by The Pirhanas. My ticket today came from a very decent Wigan fan who procured me two seats for the Springfield stand, sat supposedly amongst Wigan fans but there were a lot of reds in there today. United fans, as per usual on the road, were in fantastic voice with plenty of songs celebrating players from days of yore like George Best, Andy Cole, Nicky Butt, Jaap Stam, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Eric Cantona. Once United got a grip on the game, with goals from Javier Hernandez (35 mins) and Robin Van Persie (43) in the latter part the first half, everybody with a red allegiance relaxed and enjoyed the game. Wigan were spirited but completely outclassed and barring a balls up of proportions last witnesses when Everton last played at Old Trafford, this game was won by half time.

Continue reading Sky and Grass – Wigan 1st of January 2013

How The Other Half Live – Manchester 28th of November 2012

In my 30 something years of watching United, for the first time tonight, I watched the match from an executive box at the top of the 2nd tier of the United road/North/Sir Alex Ferguson stand. In the company of good, time served and now affluent reds who are old friends of mine, it was a real eye opening experience of how the other half live. A three course meal and as much beer, wine or cider to drink as was wanted, it was a pleasant but surreal contrast to the usual experience at Old Trafford. The view was birds eye, the simultaneous height and clarity of our position enhanced the observation significantly. Just in case anything was missed, we got instant action replays on the TV screen directly above our heads or the ability to switch over to SKY Sports News or even watch the Wigan v City match in tandem with the United match unfolding below us if we so wished (we didn’t). From here, it was more obvious watching Javier Henandez constantly flirting with being offside as well as Rafael’s thrilling but frightening playing style.

Continue reading How The Other Half Live – Manchester 28th of November 2012