Friday 24 July 2009

The Fears & Worries of a Manchester United supporter aged 33

My writings are normally quite here is a home-truth...

Now if you knew me, you would know that in real time, i am the utter most pessimistic United fan in England. Cramped by silly superstitions, always finding "the good" in the opponents, whilst highlighting my teams inefficiencies. This is born of being an MUFC kid of the 1980s. I had one FA Cup win to celebrate in that first decade of being a Red (I was too young for the 1983 Brighton cup final win) That was as good as i thought it would EVER get. So to this day that sticks with me. Those early thoughts of my team. I do not think of United as some trophy consuming behemoth. I think more that all this success is temporary...and that will not matter, because i will support United until my dying or not. Its the badge that means everything.

This leads me to think about 2010. After this season, and the dust has settled on the African continent's first World Cup finals, United could well be in a state of transition. I am convinced that this will be the last season for Messrs Giggs, Scholes and Neville. Three living footballing legends. Talk will be about retiring the Number 11 shirt. Of who will be the next full-time skipper. And of the best passing midfielder this country has had in generations, that Sir Bobby Charlton calls "My favourite United player ever." Three massive players. Now we know Sir Alex knows this and is already thinking about recruits, but what...BUT WHAT!..if this all happens after a season of disaster for United?

Edwin Van Der Sar will retire as well, leaving us short in the goalkeeping department. What if Nani and Anderson do not "step up to the plate" and have awful seasons? What if Kiko and Wellbeck turn out to be Frazier Campbells rather than Ruud Van Nistelrooys? What if Owen Hargreaves never fully recovers from injury? What if Michael Owen flops!?

And what if Liverpool win the league!!??

These are things which pass through my brain almost every week.

And that is because i do not believe in the myth of Manchester United.

Now this myth has slapped me across the face before, and thankfully so. As i stood behind the goal in Moscow to watch John Terry slip like an Essex girl in 8 inch stilettos, to keep us in the game...well, the myth made me believe. When Giggsy mis-kicked the ball into the path of Teddy in the last minute of the 1999 Champions League Final, the myth grabbed me again. And when i watched Steve Bruce come forward to head home the ball in the 96th minute against Sheffield Wednesday, which prompted Brian Kidd's and the boss' touchline jigs...well, the myth just put me in a headlock! All United fans know that this mythical scripting is common with us (for last year, see 'Unknown Italian comes off the bench to score last minute winner..Kiko who?" and "Lets give Spurs a two nil half time lead when we need a win")

Yet I still do not believe it

As far as I'm concerned, United's success is down to one man, and that is the manager. He creates the teams. He instructs them. He motivates the individuals. Yes, of course the players are the ones that should have the glory as it is them that bury the ball in the net and make last gasp tackles. However, organically speaking, its all down to Fergie. This leads me to think of the one unthinkable, yet thoroughly feasible, question that may be asked at the end of the season...

'Who is gonna be manager of Manchester United next season?'


The pessimist in me knows that this is coming. This filthy, stinging question. Now OK...maybe not at the end of this season (hopefully not!) but it IS coming. Sir Alex is a man who is contemplating his seventies. He is not super human. One day he will say "What the F am i bloody doing this now for?" and will finish. It is inevitable. This is the day i think our luck may just break. This is because with the loss of this one man, we are back on parity with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and all the big guns in Europe. ..

Because we have a Sir Alex Ferguson...and they DON'T.

So the flip side of my personality says this: Lets enjoy it and enjoy him (Fergie) now while we have them. Lets appreciate what we have got this moment in football time. Let us not believe in legend, but in those that deliver for United week after week. Let us not take for granted that we will produce teams of such grace and panache...just because of the mythology of Manchester United.

Because its highly possible that we may "Do a Liverpool"

And that means we may have to wait until 2030 for another title.

Until then, I will keep wearing my lucky socks/pants/jeans/coat to Old Trafford. I will keep eulogising about the quality of the opposition and how "we could get beat by this lot today". And I will keep staying awake at night thinking, are Darron Gibson and the Da Silva twins really the real deal? (I hope they are!)

Who said football was enjoyable?


  1. Loosing Fergie scares the wits out of me as well. I've already mentioned the fact that in today's climate of presumed immediate success even he wouldn't have survived long enough to lift us to our current heights. In my darkest moments I envision a time after Sir Alex where we, who have known stability for so long, are one of those clubs on the manager carousel, going through 3 or 4 or 5 managers in as many years. All of it self-inflicted because we have no patience, no ability to wait for a new team with a new leader to gel. Allowing each new manager to bring in his own players after casting out the ones bought by the last gaffer who didn't measure up. Wasting money and time, hoping that one gets the results long enough to pull us out from the massive shadow of the greatest manager in the game ever. It will require a man with an unquestionable reputation, a force in his own right, with probably an ego to match. And it will require a fair amount of luck. There can be no doubt as to the importance of stability and security in knowing who is in charge on the potential of a club, especially it seems, in England. I believe that Chelsea's lack of any constant at this position is the best thing that has happened to United for the last couple of years and had as much to do with our success as Ronaldo's goals.

    Speaking of Chelsea, our old nemesis, Jose, has stated his desire to take over for Sir Alex after his retirement. I don't know whether this is due to some love of the club or, more likely, his desire to stick it to Roman. I haven't decided how I would feel about him as our gaffer. His defensive style sure doesn't seem like as much fun as I would like but his record and his ego may be just what we will need to see us though that impossible period and he sure does seem to instill that team spirit that can make you proud to be a supporter.
    ....And if he stumbles for too long I won't ask "what if he were given just a little more time??? We might have just crushed another coming of Sir Alex!!!" the way I would with a younger more untested general, like O'Neill, Keane, Hughes or Bruce. He could be either our shepherd through the storm or our punching bag pretender until the new king arrives. I don't know, do you?

  2. Id take Mourinho in a heartbeat. He is one of the very few who would be equiped to take the hot seat. Fergie and him love each other so i think the hand over would be smoother. Home grown wise, ONeill and Keane interest me, but not Hughes or Bruce..dont see anything 'special' in the way they manage. Id even be interested in Cantona becoming boss..tho that would probably turn into a disaster!

  3. Cantona as boss: feels so good and would be such a trainwreck. I think Bruce is somewhat unproven and has potential. He has done quite a lot with very little I think. As for Hughes, he did well at Blackburn but I think this is his year to prove or be proven wanting.