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
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
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
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.
United fans were in loud and boisterous voice at a virtually full Stadium of Light. When Wayne Rooney scored a header from a Phil Jones cross on 20 minutes after some shocking marking by Sunderland, it was no more than United deserved. Ten minutes later, Rooney hit the bar from 18 yards and then four minutes later, missed one of the easiest chances he’ll ever have from an Antonio Valencia cross. Apart from a period early in the second half, United were full control of this game but there’s always a feeling of vulnerability when only a goal in front. Today was actually United’s best performance in a few weeks; there was a professionalism to the defending and midfield play that if it had been observed in recent matches would have probably given United the title.
There was a similar potential ending in season 2009/2010 when Wigan Athletic went to Chelsea on the last day of the season and we were hoping Chelsea would drop points while United played Stoke City at Old Trafford. As expected, United beat Stoke comfortably (4-0) but what I clearly remember is Chelsea having the decency to wrap the game up against Wigan good and early, eventually winning 8-0 to extinguish any vain hope that might have been travelling around Old Trafford. This didn’t happen today. Going into injury time with United winning 1-0 and City losing 2-1, I wasn’t getting carried away with any premature celebrations. I’ve seen United recover too many impossible positions over the years to take anything for granted in football. We dared to dream but when word got back that Edin Dzeko had equalised for City, I had a feeling that with City throwing the kitchen sink against a beleaguered QPR, who’d been reduced to ten men, they would score. One thing that does make me proud is that SKY TV desperately searched around the United section in the Stadium of Light looking for somebody squawking – well done to all the lads and lasses who went their today and kept their bottle and dignity.
So now it comes to pass, the moment I felt in my guts coming after the Everton match at Old Trafford. This is the day I never thought I’d see, City are champions. It’s almost a relief. As John Cleese said in the 1986 film Clockwise, It’s not the despair, I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can‘t stand. The Sergio Aguero goal was a sickener but to me, the real kick in the balls came with Steven Pienaar’s late equaliser at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Despite United blowing an eight point lead, only the most red eyed United fan would deny that City aren’t worthy champions. The most annoying thing to me was that in the early part of this calendar year, United had done the hard bit and come early March, compared to City, had a very favourable run in. Having said that, any team that puts six past United at Old Trafford would deserve the title. Any title chasing team that blows a two goal lead in a home match, so close to the season’s end deserves what they ended up getting. It’s been pointed out repeatedly recently by people in the pub and on the internet that if it wasn’t for refereeing mistakes, United would’ve been four points clear of City going into this weekend. That may be true but to be clinging to straws like that is embarrassing and to my mind, the kind of behaviour that we’ve been taking the piss out of City fans for years. This is not like Blackburn Rovers in 1995 or Chelsea in 2010 when United were robbed of the title by a side who had no right winning it, this season United have only themselves to blame. All those City fans we saw jumping around outside Eastlands four years ago with tea towels wrapped around their heads have finally seen what they were dreaming of. No longer can City have the peculiar affection that the English are so good at giving to the eternal losers and that their fans have inadvertantly thrived on for years, in compensation for being shit. Welcome to our world Berties, try not to embarrass our proud city too much, from what I’ve seen over the years, I fear you will. Just remember one thing, you’ll no longer be the darling of the neutrals.