This Is The Season To Be Jolly – Manchester, 20th Dec 2015

The roof first truly fell in on Louis van Gaal’s philosophy at Arsenal in October when, after 20 minutes, the home side were 3-0 in front. For all that, United actually won the game in van Gaal’s eyes due to having 62% possession. Another thing which helped him immeasurably that day was the sacking of Brendan Rodgers – following a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

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Juan Mata lines up a free kick which ends up in the freight Terminal behind the Stretford End (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan) 

A sacking this week, this time at Chelsea, could have the opposite effect on van Gaal’s tenure. Jose Mourinho, a man many fans at Old Trafford wanted and expected to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, is now back on the job market, having been given his don’t come Monday by Chelsea on Thursday afternoon. Mourinho himself has, with his usual mischief, said that he has no intention of taking a sabbatical from football, like he did when he was last sacked by Chelsea in 2007. With Carlo Ancelotti about to be confirmed as Bayern Munich’s next manager, there’s not an awful lot else about.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (Pete Townsend, 1971)

A lot of United fans that I know would be delighted to have Mourinho as manager. The ‘Special One’ has the ego to take on a job like United, but he’d need more than that; van Gaal isn’t known for his lack of ego either. Reds wanting Mourinho also say that he is a proven winner, his track record proves that too. Then again, van Gaal’s track record isn’t too shabby either when it comes to success. Ultimately, Mourinho gives great soundbites and great copy. He is, to use a modern cliché, box office gold and for obvious reasons – most journalists love him. His press conferences, wherever he goes, will be as entertaining as ever. However, anybody who thinks the play on the pitch will be any more palatable than recent games must still have the remnants of the smoke smuggled back after Eindhoven away.

This is my idea of a footballing philosophy

The Inter Milan team that won the European Cup in 2010 is a classic Mourinho side. Playing with the catenaccio style of football that Inter Milan are famous for, they turned defensive football into an art form. Scream for Mourinho all you want, he is a brilliant coach at what he does, but do not expect to be entertained on the pitch should the clamour be successful. Whatever success Mourinho achieves at his next club, you can bet your shit Christmas jumper that he won’t be in-situ long and when he does go, he’ll leave a smell as bad as any sprouts will induce this forthcoming Yuletide.

I should’ve known the way this day was going to pan out when a tout, who I’ve known all my life, offered me two free tickets for this game prior to kick off. This fella, a good lad and a good laugh, but he’s also the kind of bloke that wouldn’t give the door a bang. He wasn’t doing this out of the kindness of his heart; he was doing it because people were actually demanding money from him to take the ticket off his hands. With growing discontent amongst Reds, the consensus was that van Gaal needed not just a win, but a convincing win today against a staggeringly poor Norwich City side.

Norwich City players this afternoon on the A11, waving to their adoring hordes

Norwich haven’t won at Old Trafford since Gary Pallister’s disastrous debut in August 1989 and nobody, even the most optimistic of the croaking Canaries expected that to change today. By the time Cameron Jerome put Norwich in front on 38 minutes, we knew this wasn’t going to be straightforward. When Alex Tettey made the score 2-0 in the 54th minute, the mood around me was mutinous, in much the same way as it was of Ron Atkinson’s final days in 1986.

Anthony Martial’s goal in front of the Stretford End in the 66th minute gave United a temporary reprieve to the growing anger in the ground. With the Old Trafford crowd getting fully behind the home side, we were hoping that there would be a bombardment on Declan Rudd’s goal. There wasn’t. For anybody who has grown used to (and indeed now getting rapidly sick of) van Gaal’s notorious philosophy, it was no surprise.

Like the debacle at Arsenal in October, United may have lost the game, but boy did we win the possession statistics again. United today had 71% possession so to all those Norwich fans who have just got home on their tractors thinking you won the match, you didn’t. United won it with the possession statistics so stick that in your bootiful turkey twizzlers and chew away.

After United drew 0-0 against Manchester City on the 25th of October, the forthcoming fixtures looked quite benign. Since that match, United have gained nine points against the likes of West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford. In consecutive matches, United have lost to teams that were promoted in the Summer and made hard work of winning a point against a feisty pub side like Leicester City.

Louis van Gaal was given a massive amount of slack by United fans last season. It was a tolerance that surprised van Gaal himself, who’s more used to the impulsive and impatient Latin mentality with their white handkerchiefs. This season has seen ever-growing exasperation amongst the fans. It properly reared its head at Selhurst Park at the end of October, but even then, it was reigned in.

The tide seemed to turn today. Around me, I could see people screaming abuse at the United dug-out immediately after Norwich’s second goal. The media are now smelling van Gaal’s blood and polls conducted on United fan sites are now overwhelmingly wanting him out (and no, I’m not fucking putting one on here). Van Gaal might be able to ride out those factors; he is a genuinely hard man. However, Andy Tate, self appointed voice of the fans, has now called for van Gaal to leave. Game over Louis, get your bag and don’t forget to leave your keys on the way out.

As Matthew said in the King James Bible* “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. I say this as a Christmas greeting to our dear and deeply religious neighbours who skip Sunday matches so they can go to church. Over on the East side of town, with their Santa Claus clad in blue, Manchester City have their very own East Side Story for Christmas. Following the recent announcement that the club will pay for laser removal to change old laser blue tattoos, reports are now coming in that the New Year will see City fans undergo a mass blood transfusion where its colour will change from red to blue. This initiative, funded by Sheik Mansour, will also see their hearts (yes, they do have them apparently) change colour from red to blue, (I see a red heart and I want it painted blue). The ever altruistic Sheik Mansour was also going to re-enact the gospel of John and, with five loaves of bread and two fishes, feed an expected quarter of a million blues stood over four thousand holes on a hill in Blackburn, Lancashire, and then buy them all a house near the the Stade de Beswique. The fact that only 3,007 turned up slightly scuppered his plans.

Merry Christmas, see you at Stoke on Boxing day (oh the joy…)

(22.39 if you want to look it up)

25 thoughts on “This Is The Season To Be Jolly – Manchester, 20th Dec 2015”

  1. Fantastic read Tony loved every comment ask for LVG ???? NO COMMENT IS PROBABLY THE BEST COMMENT !! lol Happy Christmas Tony and come on you Reds !!!

  2. Hallelujah, hallelujah the prodigal son has returned and with him he hath bestowed upon us an early Christmas present for forlorn reds far and wide. Having been dragged to mass every Sunday and educated in catholic institutions I can only feel shame that I now spend my Sunday mornings planning the hair of the dog pub crawl. Some reds wish we had our neighbours financial power, ability to score at free will and 2 for 1 on match tickets, but not this man. No, I want religious fulfilment and if my prayers do work we will see José in the home dugout on December 28th. I’m off to confessions, hopefully the priest isn’t a philosophical believer.

  3. That Norwich match in ’93 was used in my argument explaining why LVG isn’t on. His humour and personality has made some of our comrades stick behind him and are continuing to do so despite mounting evidence to save their own face. Despite the outlay, I don’t think this is any improvement on Moyes. Although I would support a law to give all managers two years minimum, playing football like this is a crime.

  4. Always a good read Murph, I’ve missed the regular posts this season. Please spend more of your free time doing this yeah?

  5. Happy Christmas Tony, the mighty reds emailed me during the week with a special Christmas deal, a ticket for the Norwich match with a whole £5 discount, I had to decline their generous offer which makes me believe that there is a god, see you in the new year

  6. Great blog Tony, lol- the tout and the tickets, now that’s priceless. Have a great Christmas, hope to see you in the new year.

  7. As Mariah Carey once sang (shortly after she’d been round to mine for a knee-jerker in the downstairs loo):

    “All I want for Christmas, is Murph’s blog re-instated on a full time basis”

    Great to have you back doing what you do best Murph, any danger you could persuade our team to do likewise?

    Staggering poor that some clowns who go to the games see fit to boo the team, get behind them you tools, it isn’t helping.

    For sure moan in the pub and beat your wife (if you’re from Leeds), but don’t start whining at the match.

    Get Pep in & build a bonfire.

  8. In other news, Javier Hernandez scored yesterday, Angel Di Maria got two. Just thought you’d like to know.

    Oh and Bebe got a double hat-trick, Neil Webb delivered a record amount of parcels, and Mike Phelan’s shorts burst with excitement after winning £2 on a National Lottery scratch card.

    See you all in Midget Land.

  9. PS. I’ve discovered what Father Christmas does for the rest of the year when not delivering presents and sweeping Murph’s chimney.

    His name is Gurney Slade and he’s a United fan.

  10. The last time l felt like this, was a few weeks back. There l was, sat in the dentist waiting room, thinking, hope it doesn’t hurt too much. Was it filling, was some other repair or was tooth out, dig around, get some shit out, and put one of replacements in. I couldn’t help the outcome then. And thankfully, l can’t do nothing now. So Lionel, you be careful what you wish for. For example, it’s reported that ‘Pep’ demands Suarez to be bought. Fuck that. But if that’s what it takes, who am l. Giggys stood on the touch line, might have been filling in an application form. Hope he doesn’t turn into our version of Tony Book. Poisoning the club for his own ends. Anyhow, sooner rather than later. We’ve just slipped out of the top 4. And it won’t be easy getting back in. As for nononorwich, I’am glad it was a shit club like them that highlighted our needs. A big club beating us at home, could have too easy to explain away. They, norridge, will surely go down. And make a space for another bunch of nonentities. Life goes however. We older hands have all this before. Fear not, long term. For WE SHALL OVERCOME SOME DAYAYAYAYAY. Have your say by all means. Your entitled to that. But booing. Does nothing but damage our reputation. Leave that to our nonowt neighbours. They’ve plenty of distorted faces because of it. Just look at em. Great to hear from the names on here. Missed yez, Gurney

  11. Mutphy

    I would by lyon if I sayed I havent missed your blog.

    Merry christas to all reeder.

    However, this blog is wanker.

    You are not happy? Why you are not happy?

    Under currant managerment United have qualifying for Europe, and in a decent positional place for a assault on the league title.

    What we need is more the midfield tryangle of Fellaini, Carrick, Mata, Young, Swinesteigrrr and Herrera.

    LVG must stay.

    He has a philosophy the same as me. what is your philosophy Murphy?

    1. Hello J The Red (sigh) Geometry isn’t your subject is it mon ami? The triangle of the players you mentioned would, in fact be a hexagon. Not leaving much room for much other than….well retaining possession, 100% of the time. Me thinks you may have got carried away. Try again. This time, count on your fingers. Yours figuratively speaking, Gurney

  12. An enjoyable read as ever Murph.
    It’s beginning to remind me of the darker days of the Moyes era.

    Fingers crossed for a more positive result in middle earth next saturday.

    Merry Christmas all!

    1. Regarding fingers crossed, I reckon the fans of our opponents on Boxing Day are one of the few collectives that could cross three fingers on one hand.

  13. Every cloud and all that. In this case, ’tis the return of the Murphster’s blog*. There was me thinking it was a mere rumour on Warwick Road before the match. Good to have it back, fella, as all the big guns have posted up above me on this page already. One of the few highlights of the Moyes era was coming on here after to read a) what actually happened, b) what we matchgoers actually think and c) some humourous, sometimes childish, but always cutting insults of the away lot. Tractors and all. Ho ho ho.

    As for the match. As i said yesterday with an eternally-served pint, it was the lack of a late onslaught that worried me. I thought we started well, were unlucky at half time, and then the heads dropped. That the players didn’t think they could get another in half an hour playing towards the Stretford End against relegation fodder is worrying. Either a lack of confidence or no trust in the manager – and in both cases the problem lies with van Gaal.

    I, however, am in the ever-shrinking minority would let him see the overhaul of the team so it is players, who he trusts and vice versa, and then see how they play. As an example, i can’t see Carrick being picked too much more often after his running away from Jerome for that first goal (reminded me of him pissing himself on camera when interviewed in Olympiakos). Should he be trusted with more money? Martial could be good business, and we play better with Schweinsteiger, so i don’t see why we can’t buy a centre back.

    Mourinho would do a short term fix but then we’d more than likely be back to square one in a few years, with a shitstorm of Cannero/eye-gauging type nonsense following the club around, too. No thanks.

    Have a good xmas Murph (and readers) – look forward to the Stoke entry 😉

    *and Watford embarrassing the scousers

  14. Good evening all and thanks to Lee for pushing Murph back into the blogosphere!!

    Two things to take from the season thus far. One is, whilst at OT if you have nothing good to say don’t say anything at all. After the second goal I witnessed two fans being held back from climbing over the seats to have a go at each other.

    Secondly, you never ever ever boo the team. We are not Arsenal. I can only hope that the pockets of booing are coming from day trippers who feel they haven’t had value for money forked out to watch the team they apparently love.

    Great to have you back Murph. I expect to curled up in the foetal position on the 27th reading about your thoughts on the Stoke game.

    1. The thought of writing anything about Stoke has me curled up in a foetal position already.

      I’ve been a regular United fan since 1983 and in all that time, I have never, ever seen a decent game of football involving Stoke City. Bearing in mind how United are playing at the moment I’m not holding out much hope for Boxing Day’s match being anything other than turgid.

  15. Never have I read such narrow minded and bitter shit as this. How the might have fallen, not even the best club in your own city now. It is people like you that make everybody hate man ure and why the whole country is enjoying watching your clubs demise. How dare little Norwich should come to your shitty theatre of dreams and beat your shit team.


    Fuck off

    1. Brian, if you think this blog is bitter, you should have been in the pub with me after the match. It was boiling. And the best bit is, your shitty little club never got a mention. It was how we could play so badly. The tactics, over possession, stuff like that. No pal get what you can out of this journey through the big clubs, then hide behind your haystack, when you return to you normal station. Leave footy talk to us and our like.

  16. A Christmas cracker of a blog! The six consecutive league wins in March & April appeared to be the platform for future success, but it just hasn’t happened. I’ll probably be hiding behind the sofa come the Stoke City game!
    All the Georgie Best from across the pond.

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