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 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 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 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 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 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 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.



  1. Nice one mate, to coin another cliche 'you hit the nail on the head'. I thought the crowd was poor (and it's SO irritating when people leave before the final whistle - WHY do they do it???), and were too quick to get on the back of players, then go silent. I don't even support them, but felt guilty enough to (almost) join in with a chant at one point. It was a very quiet second half. Anyway, maybe that's what being a huge, successful club brings with it - high expectation and high numbers of arm-chair fans who don't understand that a football match is a continual and complex battle that doesn't always go as planned. Leeds played well though.....

  2. don't you just love it :)

    super leeds!!

  3. I enjoy reading your blog.

    I am glad you touched on Berbatov. For me, Berbatov is not only not the right partner for Rooney but he isn't right for United.

    With regards to not being the right partner for Rooney, one of the reasons for this is because they both play deep. Moreover, Rooney bounces of players that have pace (something which Berbatov has absolutely zero of). That is one of the many reasons why the Ronaldo-Rooney partnership worked so well. Berbatov likes to stand there hands on hips waiting for the ball to land on his feet, whilst Rooney expects his strike partner to move around to try and receive the ball.

    Other than that, I have several other issues with Berbatov. I hate how he moans at his team mates and berates them despite not playing so great himself. I hate how he doesn't seem to want to get himself in to goalscoring positions (for example, Welbeck's cross in the first half, Berbatov just looked when a bit of a jog would have seen him tap it in to an open net). I also don't think he has the mentality to be a United player. Being a United player is about being able to cope with pressure and expectations, something Berbatov lacks. I think he can't cope with his price tag. You look at players like Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic and they haven't let that be a problem because they have the mentality to play for any top club.I was there yesterday and the fans are turning on him. I read on another forum that he got ironic cheers when he tracked back in the second half. He might end up being booed at this rate.

    As for Gibson, he truely is awful. He thinks he did well when he came in (he said that a few weeks back). I am sorry but if he thinks his performances are anywhere near United quality, he needs to re think. You look at someone like Ramsey at Arsenal and it makes you a bit gutted that we have Gibson

    Keep up the good blogs mate

  4. Great blog , You speak a lot of sense.

    It was the typical example of a team who think all they have to do is turn up and stroll around and a 5-0 score line will appear , compared with a team of honest league one lads, working hard and giving everything for the cause.

    I was shocked that a team of Fergie’s did not WORK hard , I am a Man U hating Leeds Fan , but the Credit to Fergie his teams have always had the philosophy of “working hard first for the right to play”
    It was also shocking to hear that Fergie didn’t want to be in the dugout or stand as he was too busy in the lounge watching the old firm derby before the match.
    Now that strikes of disrespect and complacency

    My team Leeds are crap, there is no doubt, But we are honest crap! And have a “normal” team of proper players, not cloud cuckoo land players like Rooney who spends more time making programmes for sky TV than training for his club or Berbatov who lost the ball which lead to the goal and made no attempt to win the ball back for his £ 100k plus per WEEK , he was truly awful.

    Oh , while I’m here, good luck with your £700 million debt , there are reports that you are having to have a bonds issue to keep the club afloat.
    Leeds are in healthy profit!,

    Many thanks

  5. Having visited Old Trafford many times since the 70`s, what has happened to your soul-less corparate ground. Laughable - half of you left before the end. Yesterday you were outplayed on the park and humiliated off the pitch. If you had managed an equaliser, believe me the reception at Elland Road would have been completely different. Shame.

  6. Great post Rob and a shame it is so true. I was born late 1958 a born and bred a Red Mancunian. I am lucky enough to be able to say I saw Best, Law ans Charlton play together with my Dad. I remember Wembley '68 very well just as I remember not winning the League for all those years AND I was there when we were relegated. I paid my money, loved my club and folowed them many a long mile on the B.R. football specials, ah! the atmosphere of the whole thing! I stopped going when things became as they are now, walking into the stadium 10 minutes before kick off and being surrounded by people who seem to have no more passion than if they were watching a show at the theatre. The worst though was being forced to sit down (Thanks to the Dippers) Not for me thanks! As you said, when we went behind in the old days the noise around the ground was deafening. How DARE they put one past US? The few times I go these days the reaction has been woefull! A half hearted attempt by the few. A great improvement would be a standing area but that will never happen thanks to Trafford Borough Council and its busybodies..... Shame!

  7. as a leeds fan who dared only dream of winning at Old Trafford, I have to agree with your comments. Leeds and Man U will always be fierce rivals dispite the gulf that seperates them at the moment. SirAlex needs to step down soon and let a younger manager take over the reigns, Steve Bruce? As long as you keep your hands off Simon Greyson!!

    I think you need to dip in to the transfer window if you are to keep
    up your phenominal success,


    Super Leeds Utd!!!

  8. I realise as I begin to type my comment that I'm actually still really angry about the game. I can't say I thought we started all that great and didn't think we would win - and I hate feeling like that!

    Roo and Berba just don't work together well at all and Berba was (a little) better when Owen came on. I wish we wouldn't play Welbeck on the wing as he's not a winger and people think he's crap and yes he is as he's played out of position.

    If Vida is going then ok go! His wife wants a sunny warmer climate and we can't offer him that over here.

    I still hope Hargreaves comes back soon although it seems delayed again recently. I heard Sir Alex said there is no need to strengthen the squad but it would be nice to have Villa in.

    Thank goodness though for other Prem teams not taking full advantage of United's shortfalls in the Prem games, but this won't continue. Chelsea still look good without Drogba and seem certain to get goals where we do not.

    This is the first in a long time that I have not felt confident in the team. I hope this changes soon.

    Happy New Year to all

    Glory Glory!

  9. At least, for once, Old Trafford had an atmosphere - albeit one created by the Leeds fans!

  10. Spot on. Very good article. I was in Manchester for the first time in my life to watch the game against Wigan and I noticed too that the crowd was not so vocal. On the other hand a few days before I travelled to KC Staduim to watch the game against Hull and I have to say that the travelling fans made much more noise than the 70000 "fans" at Old Trafford. Old Trafford should be our fortress.

  11. We all love Leeds, We all love Leeds !! 1.0 in your cup final!

  12. The home crowd atmosphere yesterday was poor, but not nearly as poor as against spurs in the carling cup.
    It was silent, with spurs fans singing Old Trafford was just like a library. Its an embarrassment that one of the biggest clubs in the world, from a passionate city and with supposedly passionate fans, has become one of the dullest crowds in England. It feels like its full of tourists and neutrals (which it probably is). People speak of the passion at old trafford, but its non-existant except for huge champs league games. The atmosphere at Elland Road is much better (I've been to both) even though the crowd is half the size and they're playing teams like hartlepool

  13. Great blog this. I was very, very disappointed with the Manchester United fans - it was as if you thought you had a divine right to win the game. You failed to get behind your team, left early and embarrassed yourselves quite frankly.

  14. As a Leeds fan,

    We beat you on your home patch at our lowest ebb i.e league one

  15. Likewise I'm a Leeds fan. We where going bonkers on the way home but someone commented that the only negative is that we had to sing to ourselves. Old Trafford is just a corporate theme park now. Sorry mate. It's over for the real fans of Man Utd.

    Brentford's Griffin Park had more fight than your place which is a genuine shame as our trips have always been a highlight.

    See you again in a couple of years in the Premier League and you can enjoy a good sing song at the Stadium of Noise!

  16. i as a leeds fan was shocked by the man u crowd
    you was so quiet i guess the genuine fans cant go because of all the part timers and whats with all those non english fans.

  17. Leeds fan here and I do actually feel very sad for the real fans of Manchester United. The one's that haven't always seen success at the club. The FA Cup game held all the magic of the cup and one would have thought that against their once bitter rivals the crowds would have been loud but at points it was almost as though Leeds were at home. There is a reason why teams do not like coming to Elland Rd and that is because the crowd act as a 12th man with the noise from the crowd. For the sheer size of OT you would have thought there'd have been a lot more noise. The respect Simon and our players have for the fans is phenomenal and I think the fact we take our full allocation to almost every away game gives the team an extra boost. Also if it's true that Fergie was watching the old firm game then that shows not only a disrespect of the game itself but also a lack of respect for his own players.