I know what you’re thinking. A football blog, but it’s June for Christs’s sake. You are undoubtedly right about it being June and indeed it being a football blog, so, that’s a good start all round. Winding back ever so gently as to what has undoubtedly been an awful season from our perspective, it actually had a somewhat palatable outcome come the end of May. Sure, United were predictably dreadful at Selhurst Park and the Leeds vermin stayed up, but also, on the bright side and much to most people’s surprise, Real Madrid beat the scousers in the European Cup final despite Liverpool comfortably being the better side (this actually made it sweeter). The kids won the Youth Cup against Forest in front of a crowd of over 67,000. This was one of those nights where you remember everything that is great about going to the match. A great atmosphere and a group of kids who looked motivated and wanting to play well. Meanwhile, at Old Trafford/Carrington, we now know that last December, United hired a management consultant as a stand-in team manager, and when his much feted consultancy was about to commence, he moved down over to manage Austria. Looking at the overall reaction, there’s one very good thing about Rangnick’s move to Vienna, it means nothing to me, nor anybody else by the looks of things. As for United’s state, well, looking at the dividends that they have been awarding themselves recently, everything is OK on planet Glazer, so all’s well.
Writing this a fortnight after City won the title, the world feels a far easier and different place to be than what it would be if the unthinkable happened and Liverpool won the quadruple. The glee of most United fans at City winning the title managed to piss off both the scousers and the berties, so I suppose that is a double of sorts (it will have to do at the moment, any port in a storm, and all that). Liverpool fans claimed that they would never prefer an Everton win over a United win, but they completely miss the point by this when expressing their disgust or disbelief at our joy. When all’s said and done, nobody gives a fuck about City, blimey, looking at the turnout for their ‘homecoming’, nobody in ‘their’ city gives a fuck about City. To be fair to the denizens of Tameside, Stockport and other parts of Cheshire where City are well supported, it’s a bit of a schlep to ‘manny’ on a Monday night, particularly when they’ve got their church services, karate classes or choir practice to attend, so we should cut them some slack for that.
In 2008, much to chagrin of reds, the city council, helmed by bitter Bertie Bernstein, came out with some bollocks excuse when they blocked a parade about safety concerns for the crowds converging in town for United winning the European Cup and the League. This was a problem that mysteriously vanished three years later when City won the FA Cup. In 2008, a lot of reds, myself included, were making noises about a bitter stitch up amongst the governing Labour cartel at the town hall on Albert Sq. I have little doubt that was factor, but significant also was the anticipated turnout too. I was on Deansgate in 2013 when United ‘came home’ with the Premier League title. Apart from the now venerated pictures of reds all over the five storey scaffolding near the Quay St junction of Deansgate, I have to admit that it got very tight amongst the masses on the side of the road on Deansgate. This most definitely was not a problem when City had Jack Grealish doing his clown act at the celebrations. Bloody hell, I thought United were had over by Everton for old trampoline shins, Romelu Lukaku, but looking at Grealish, City have given Aston Villa £100m for a court jester.
Back at the theatre of draws, there was some great news about Steve McLaren returning to United. Looking at his record, we can all agree that he’s no manager, a bit like his original predecessor at Old Trafford, Brian Kidd, but McLaren, like Kidd, is a top (top) coach and is respected by players that have worked his sessions. Players like Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Jaap Stam, not lads known for suffering fools, have all thrived under his coaching regime. If McLaren has their respect, he sure as hell has mine, so, unlike the coaches who have just been laughed out of Old Trafford, he should be a great addition to the backroom staff. There’s also the added bonus of McLaren’s enviable skills as a linguist. There have been concerns about Erik Ten Hag’s grasp of English, but with Steve McLaren’s now infamous experience of communication to a Dutch audience, then Ten Hag for sure should have no problem getting his message across with McLaren by his side.
While you’re reading this and either basking in the rays of another glorious British summer, or stood in a five hour queue at Ringpiece airport, we can look forward to next season with some optics (maybe a Whiskey, maybe a Brandy). For a start off Pogba has gone, so has Lingard and, much to my sadness, so has Mata. As for who’s coming in, well if you’re looking here for transfer talk, you’re looking in the wrong place brother. That said, one player to keep your eye on is Calvin Bassey at Rangers, he looked fantastic in the Europa League final and I would not say no to him at United. If he doesn’t come here, then surely Bassey will end up somewhere else in the Premier League before too long.
Looking at the joy experienced by Eintracht Franfurt fans and Roma fans for winning the Europa League and the Europa Conference League, I’m relishing the campaign in the Europa League and I expect Ten Hag to take it seriously too. A visit to the fine city of Budapest for the final would be most welcome next May. With the wasters still in the squad signed to the club on ridiculously high wages long contracts (a big ‘hi’ to Anthony Martial), Ten Hag is inheriting a squad with not as much deadwood in it, as being riddled with Dutch Elm disease. He’s also having to deal with an ownership model which has managed to make globally respected managers like Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho look like mugs. He’s going to need time while he tidies up the debris left to him by Woodward. Here’s hoping next season can bring some of the fun back and come next May, we don’t look back in anger, I hear you say.