Thoughts of a Manchester United season ticket holder
Monday, 4 January 2010
Translating Transition & Humiliation By The Truckload - United Damned By Leeds
So its the day after the Leeds United humiliation, and many disappointments are apparent for many reasons. Happy new year NOT
The turn of the decade has started with many stating the dreaded word when used in reference to a football team.
Yep, I've heard it several times now...so a team that has got to the last two European Cup finals and won the last three league titles is now in transition. Okay. So we lost the best player in the world from our ranks and a scampering Argentinian. So this now means we are in transition? I don't buy it at all.
The performance against Leeds (and you can add Villa, Burnley, Fulham and all the other bits of mediocrity this season) has fuck all to do with transition. It has to do with attitude and quality. The injury plague that hit every defender at the club was not very helpful at all as we know, but winning games will always be about outscoring your opponent..something we have always prided ourselves in being able to achieve. To not 'outscore' a team from the third tier of English football with what was a decent selection by the manager with his first choice strikers, borderlines on criminal. But worse than that it is becoming a reoccurring bad habit.
The result against Wigan clouded what alot of fans are thinking at the moment, and that is we are not very good. Somehow due to Chelsea's crapness and Arsenal's inability to put a run together we are still in the thick of the title race and i am thankful for that. But the performance level this year compared to the last few years has been trash. Individually you could pick the bones out of every player, and not one of them is up to scratch, except maybe Patrice Evra. People may point to Wayne Rooney's increased goal haul this season, but as positive as that is, he is one of the reasons why we are underperforming this year. He and Berbatov seem to be becoming increasingly estranged to each others game..one good pass against Hull may make people think that this is not the case, but they are wrong. We have a former European footballer of the year sat warming our bench who cant get a game because of the faith shown in this partnership, which i have a feeling of doom about. It simply does not work week in week out
We have a midfield which is playing as inconsistently as i can remember in recent memory...i have no clue who our best two central midfielders are at the moment...just as Carrick or Anderson give you a good game, they play utter tripe the next. Fletcher will always give you endeavour but his quality on the ball has not been good recently. Scholes and Giggs are in and out as their age dictates, which leaves you with Darron Gibson who's metaphorically played about 10 minutes of top class football. And lets not even start up about the mentally damaged Owen Hargreaves.
And whats going on wide? Park? Valencia? Obertan? Giggs? Me? Nobody seems to be able to cross a ball at the moment...not with any consistency. The best crosses i have seen this year have come from the full backs..which worries me when i think that Gary Neville has excelled at this part of the game more than the wingers.
Then there is Nemanja Vidic. The press say he wants to go and he says he wants to stay..but doesn't it all have the stink of the Ronaldo debacle we all went through? Yesterday, he didn't feel right so did not play. I DO NOT like the sound of all that. Rio is desperately needed back but his persistent injuries may turn him into our very own Ledley King...which a club like us doesn't need or want.
So.............maybe we are in transition.
And if so..do we rely on a man who has just turned 68 to rebuild again? Yes the man is a legend, and a genius. But do we go for a younger option? Or are we gonna allow Sir Alex go out the same way that Jock Stein did? I sincerely hope that our greed for success does not dictate that. I for one hope that he gives his family his future years and we don't see him collapse in a dugout somewhere. If Mourinho is up for it, i hope the board are already in some sort of consultation. Planning for the future has always been the United way.
This leads me to the fans yesterday. To be honest I'm normally quite apathetic to whether the fans sing or not at Old Trafford. I pay my money, I sing, I enjoy myself. I also normally wouldn't have bothered with yesterdays game. I spend enough time and money following my club over a season that on a freezing cold, snow covered Manc day during the Xmas break, is better served with my family than watching a Cup match that I'm forced to purchase under the terms of my season ticket. Yes its like chucking thirty quid in the bin. But yesterday i attended because it was Leeds. A team we sing about every week. Yes they have fallen from grace but they will always be one of the natural enemies. So i thought, "lets go to this one, have a singalong and enjoy what will be a great atmosphere" As i walked up to Old Trafford i could hear the United Faithful singing with more gusto than usual..you could cut the tension with a knife. And i loved it! As i took my seat an hour before the game, the 10,000 Leeds fans were already bleating like sheep from the away end, and i smiled to myself as i thought about other matches that invoke this sort of passion. Everything went to plan up until the 19th minute of the game.
The home fans arrived..we all started to sing..getting louder..and louder.. WE ALL HATE LEEDS SCUM WE ALL HATE LEEDS SCUM..and then Jermaine Beckford scored. In years gone by this would have prompted a vocal retaliation from the crowd. As they went to kick off after the goal a couple of dozen of us stood up without thought and started singing. This led to several shifty looks from some sat around me (not season ticketers i might add) Here i am..in my ground..watching my club..with people trying to make me feel bad that I'm trying to lift my team with their unapologetic eyes. The sound levels never recovered after that, so you could say that the crowd played just about as well as the team did. I really thought that a game against a club that we hate on a par with Liverpool may produce a vintage collective chanting display
I was wrong
Losing to Leeds was bad enough, but to allow 10,000 away fans drown out the remaining 65,000 'alleged' United fans is not right..it never will be. And don't kid yourself that its the corporate or the Prawn Sandwich brigade cos its not. They make up just a handful of the attendance. Its the normal people. The dad with his son. The middle class bloke who does his 'football thing' at the weekends. It was them that weren't singing yesterday. And it makes me sick. These people expect success and think that they have the right to enjoy it while giving nothing back. WRONG. This isn't Stamford Bridge you know! Also, far too many are buggering off on the 80 minute mark to get back to their cars, whether United are winning or not. Yesterday the team needed us, but they didn't have their twelfth man. I feel ever so slightly ashamed.
Funny things are starting to happen at Manchester United. The fans seem sanitized as much as the players do. We have an aging manager who may just think this time that he is better off following his thoroughbred horses at race meets around the globe. We should remember that Liverpool are the prime example of what happens to teams when it starts to go all wrong, even when you are the top dog. Next league championship in 2030 anyone? All of this is possible.
Its up to us to sing our team to success and demand that they put in the same effort that we do. It is us that puts the Glory into Man United.
Manchester United fan since the age of 9 when he saw Norman Whiteside curl the ball into a Wembley goal in the dying minutes.
He is an Old Trafford season ticket holder in the North Stand Tier 3...and cried tears of joy, on his knees with the many in Moscow.
Rob is a contributing author/editor at Man Utd blogzine 'The Faithful'