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  1. #41
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    There's Only One Bryan Robson


    from the programme of the 10th anniversary Tom Clare dinner held on Friday 3rd May 2013 with Bryan Robson as guest speaker


    We could disregard all the drinks, food and grand company tonight and spend the whole evening on just one topic - just how good was Bryan Robson? Well... ‘that’ good!


    It’s a further good extension to the pub argument of comparing ‘Robbo’ with Roy Keane - just be blessed that we had both rather than having to pick just the one in any imaginary side. In saying that, it’s always been Robbo, Number 7 - what else?! - in my all time fantasy side. Then, along with Eric, start thinking about the other 9 to choose...


    I recently watched a programme on ‘Lawrence’ Dallaglio and he talked of knowing before his first Rugby World Cup Semi Final that he was going to have a good game as he’d been building up - born in a way - for that moment. I wonder what went through Robson’s mind as he waited in the dressing room before the European Cup Winners’ Cup 3rd Round 2nd leg tie against Barcelona at Old Trafford on 21st March 1984.


    We’d been written off before the tie - did that help the mindset? Did he know what was in store? Did he know just how good he was going to play? You can’t quite say he was building towards this moment, the world had already taken notice of his efforts in the shirts of Manchester United and England; be it early goals in World Cup ties or significant Cup winning goals in the red shirt of United. But this was another level.


    This performance on a night those of us there will - and have - never forgot is as good as we tell it as. He was the perfect midfielder - up and down, all around really - as he posed problems in the opposition penalty area and would then chase back to put in a telling block to halt them in our own. He covered that pitch. And this night was his night. Maradona didn’t get a sniff, great Barcelona players were made to look ordinary. There are many wonderful moments and memories of Robbo in that ever changing Manchester United kit - crucial FA Cup Semi Final goals in 1985, ‘90 and ‘94 - but none would ever touch this for individual brilliance. Carried off, aloft, by the Old Trafford faithful now on the pitch, his rapport and affection by United fans was cemented forever more.


    We’ll all have other favourite Robbo moments - indeed whilst he would be too accommodating to suggest he carried any United side, we at times did over rely on his brilliance, because he was that which he’d been tagged; Captain Marvel. We feared any injury, hand covering mouth when he went down - I even wrote as a young boy to a Doctor to see if he had any advice to cure that shoulder problem of his- and rejoiced as any return to action approached.


    He deserved more league titles to his name, but I am thankful he got there in the end. In today’s game - where we pay more notice to stats and detail - he would be priceless, he would top them all. Back then, he was priceless! But in the era he played in, he led as Captain, player and midfielder, and it is forever fitting (and symbolic) that he scored our final league goal in that very first season - 92/93 - back as Champions, and then in the next game the following season as defending Champions.


    He talks now of not being selected for the 1994 Cup Final as a vital lesson for future management, and it always makes me smile seeing photos of him watching training at Carrington, hoping he’d dust down the training bib and get involved and start clattering them with one of those, how shall I put it, ‘robust’ challenges. His advice to anyone coming through would be invaluable. He had a vision of where the ball would be - just watch that game against Barcelona again (always a joy anyway!). He knows where to be for the first goal, his header, but the second is sublime. He bides his time on the edge of the box, and after great work by his under-rated partner Remi Moses, he just glides in, knowing exactly when and where to be. Norman Whiteside has nothing but praise for this goal, saying it sums up Robson’s intuition. He’s right.


    I signed the petition for Robbo to stay and not be ‘lured by the Lira’ in 1984 - and I am forever grateful he stayed to help make history at our great club. Former Utd trainee Alan Tonge says: “Everyone was in awe of Robbo. He was the top dog. Class, class player.”


    There are the goals against Brighton, that belter in the FA Semi Final of ‘85 against the Mickeys, sharing the lift of the original Holy Grail in ‘93 with Steve Bruce, even his signing on the pitch (which considering how unique that was, showed how good they knew he’d be!), with that hair! Big Ron telling us ‘trust me, this fella is good’. And then some. But away from the obvious of Barcelona, locate this moment around 2.20 in at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31k1RTbBvFQ - Against Notts County, Robbo starts the move off near our penalty box, then as Moses and Muhren get it wide, our Captain Marvel races into the box to connect with the cross for a sublime - box to box player, for that is what he was - goal. In a palatable bit of Martin Tyler commentary, he simply calls it a “brilliant goal”. 


    Robson was brilliant, and every other name under the sun. He was as good as we say, and as we remember. We were blessed to see him when we did, during a difficult era, but as ever, Robbo had the last say. Champion.


    by Barney Chilton, Red News Editor


    Manchester United Cup Winners Cup Winners 1991 - Bryan Robson Signed Limited Edition

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  2. #42
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    Alex Ferguson's last interview with Red News from RN151


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    RN: Out of all your achievements at United, which has been the most satisfying?


    SAF: It has to be winning the league for the first time, it was really the start of what we see today, although winning the European Cup was an amazing achievement.


    RN: If you could choose one United game from your time as manager to re-live again, which would it be and why?


    SAF: One that sticks out in my mind was when we were at Spurs (in September 2001) and we were 3-nil down - but then we went onto beat them 5 - 3. It was such an amazing turnaround, the fans played their part too in that victory. Great game.


    RN: You mentioned to mutv after the game in Moscow that you had some moments with Edwin Van der Sar after the game when you headed to the press conferences inside the stadium, I wonder if you are able to reveal what you talked about, and how did those moments after the game in Moscow compare with those in Barcelona in 1999?


    SAF: Mmmm, I really can't remember what Edwin and I talked about! Both occasions were very different although the sudden impact of winning is what catches you, you can't react. In that way Barcelona and Moscow were the same. In Moscow I thought we were dead, then John Terry missed and I thought we have a break here. In Barcelona there were 3 minutes to go and I was thinking what am I going to say to the players? Then we get two goals and we win! I was so stunned. The players were all over the pitch celebrating, I had to go and speak to the TV's so we were all split up, we didn't all get together as a team until a long time after the game. I remember walking into the dressing room but it was so quiet in there, so I went for a walk on my own around the corridors just taking it all in. Moscow was different, it was so wet I think everyone was glad to get in the dressing room! So both occasions were different but still fantastic.


    RN: So much at United has changed since November 1986, which do you think is the singular biggest change at the club?


    SAF: Two things really, firstly the stadium. You see it now and it has been gutted, we have three new ends and even the old railway side has been refurbished so it's more or less like new. The increased capacity is now fantastic - so that's massive progress. Secondly the playing side, you can see the progress there with the ever growing backroom staff of coaches, medics, sports scientists, etc.


    RN: When you first arrived at United, did you set any personal targets and targets for the team itself to achieve over a set timescale?


    SAF: No, not really, it was simply to win the league, other managers had failed and I wanted to turn that around. I had no personal targets, it was to win the league for the club and for the fans.


    RN: If Sir Alex were interviewing Sir Alex, what one question would he ask?!


    SAF: Mmmmm. Tough one, I honestly have no idea!


    RN: Every former United player we interview describes the club as a ‘family club’ - how important is that to maintain?


    SAF: I got that feeling when I first came. I went around the club and tried to get to know everyone's names. I went to the ticket office, the laundry, the souvenir shop, membership, etc. You could see that people had worked there a long time. I used to go to the Steward's dance, they were fantastic. The steward position was a position that would be handed down through the generations, a family honour. These people were devoted United fans. But that was the past, obviously now with health and safety it can no longer be run that way but it is still a family club and everyone who visits here says the same thing.


    RN: You revealed the infamous ‘envelope’ that was mentioned to the players at the start of the 1993/94 season to such success, has any prop like that been used since?!


    SAF: Ha ha. Not in that way...just the shotgun! (only joking!). n


    Interview © RN 2008. (that means credit Red News, hacks). Thanks to Di Law.
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  3. #43
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    The classic terrace tribute to the Busby Babes starts: "There is a plaque at Man United, it's underneath the old Main Stand, It bears the name of Duncan Edwards, he was the finest in the land...", and in the previous four volumes of Great United Songs, there has been, by way of further information, this: 'this refers to the original Munich plaque, which is now hidden and part of Old Trafford's brick work within the Main - South - Stand".


    Though I'd always been fascinated as to exactly what happened to this original plaque, I have to admit, somewhat shamefully, that that was as far as my knowledge went. I presumed that, for whatever reason, the plaque was now somehow enclosed within the fabric of Old Trafford, and knowledge about how this came to be and why was just another one of those little mysteries we'd never fathom.
    But in preparing the centre-spread for RN112, which featured the shot from the early 60s by C Stand showing the crowd approaching the ground, we discovered that the original plaque was in the corner of the image, above the old Directors Entrance. For some reason this compelled me to find out more about the Plaque, to thankfully get off my arse and see what the exact script was.
    And thankfully Red News managed to find out quite a bit. As far as I knew, the original Munich plaque was apparently too fragile to move during ground redevelopments made in the mid 1970s. It was said that the club decided to keep it in its original place but it would not be possible to see it as it became part of the building work itself of Old Trafford. That was as much information as I knew.


    The RN website can be a bit of a pain, a few lads trying to do their best and update the news in their spare time yet getting abused by e.mail for not having stories up and ready by 9am! But if the negatives of dealing with abuse and bizarre enquiries from Timbuktu, the positives are that through the internet we have opened ourselves up to loyal readers, new and old alike, who go out of their way to help us with appeals such as this we put out.


    Before that though, I came across this priceless first step -http://pmsa.courtauld.ac.uk/pmsa/MR/MR-TRA04.htm - which details the exact architectural and chronological elements of the original Plaque. That revealed that it was unveiled on the 25th February 1960, and was to become the first of three such plaques.


    Three? I knew of two, this original (which had a green pitch as the main frame) and the one currently residing by the East Stand entrance to the right of the Busby statue. Their website explains: "Several ideas for a memorial were considered by the club before one based on the Old Trafford ground was decided upon. The design was produced by a local architect, J. Vipond...The names of those who died were incised in black and gold glass on the green faience.
    Its construction was undertaken by Messrs Jaconello (Manchester) Ltd. The cost was £2,100. Above the memorial was a carving in teak of two figures, representing the players and spectators, standing with bowed heads on either side of a wreath, beneath which was a football, inscribed with date, 1958.


    The memorial was placed above the main entrance to the Directors' box. It was unveiled by Matt Busby in a ceremony attended by the relatives of those who had died, survivors of the crash and members of the present team. Two further memorials were unveiled on the same day: a bronze plaque naming the eight journalists who died in the crash was placed in the press box by Frank Taylor of the News Chronicle (a survivor of the crash) on behalf of the Football Writers' Association, and a memorial clock, paid for by the Ground Committee, which was erected at the front of the stadium.
    Alterations to the ground in the mid-1970s necessitated the removal of the memorial. However, due to its fragile nature it proved impossible to do this without damaging it, and the decision was taken to leave the memorial in situ (now part of the East Stand) and commission a new memorial. This was a somewhat simpler and smaller representation of a football pitch in slate, on which the names of the dead were recorded. It was installed in 1976. A third memorial was commissioned to coincide with the installation of the statue of Sir Matt Busby, it having been decided that the statue would stand beneath the memorial at the Old Trafford end of the ground. This followed more closely the design of the original, showing the pitch and stands. It was the work of Mather & Ellis, stonemasons, Trafford Park, and installed in 1996.".


    I decided to contact the club to see what their take on all this was, and if they could shed any more light on it, as RN readers started to send their own memories in. The consensus, proved above, was that the old plaque had not been destroyed, but was, as we thought, walled up inside the re-building of the Main Stand, no longer visible. But did that mean it was still visible within Old Trafford, say to club staff?


    The first contact we had from a RN reader - and there were many - confirmed the worst, that the plaque had been damaged during the reconstruction in the 70s. Tony told us: "What a load of bollocks about it being safe. Having been brought up on the Stretford End when the match was over and we came out we'd all be headed for the forecourt via the main entrance, you'd ALWAYS look up to the plaque above the main entrance and momentarily quietly pay your respects to the great ones whom tragically met their fate as you passed by. BUT as the building work progressed I distinctly remember seeing a huge hole cut out of the plaque with a concrete beam going straight through it - and that is on my kids lives! I could not believe my eyes, it was shear sacrilege on behalf on the club, my heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. I just couldn’t comprehend something like that being allowed to happen. It should have been saved and placed in the Museum just like the original main front doors were and that red bench you can sit on and the row of wooden seats. Fuck me, they can dig out and resurrect dinosaurs and put them back together (why not this?). Ask them to cut a hole in the tunnel roof under the Main Stand side above where the main door was - my thinking is the proof is there!”


    Though you can't help but feel times have changed, so that if the same thing happened now, building practices are such that this would never have been allowed to happen, it doesn't say much for those at the club who didn't keep their eyes on the ball to prevent this damage back then, as PE Red wrote on 4 the RN forum: "If the plaque was damaged in building through lack of care, that would really piss me off. Somehow, though, I think this would be typical of some aspects of MUPLC (or the club and the people running it at the time) - the appreciation of history goes amiss in the chase for the dollar/pound/yen, etc.” One reader dates the damage happening after 1977 when it was still visible (and safe).


    As someone else put though: "The romantic in me likes to think that the plaque is there, out of sight, built into the stadium and represents the heart of the club." Then Mike Thomas of www.munich58.co.uk had this from a source at the club: "The first one is the one which it was not possible to move, the second one which replaced it is currently in store (and will be relocated to the Museum soon) and the third one is now on the corner of East Stand."


    A few readers informed us that the club have a whole warehouse full of memorabilia which is currently not on show at the museum, including that 2nd plaque. We hoped then that the 2nd plaque was well protected and Mark Wylie, the excellent curator of the Museum (who even collects RN), told Red News that:


    "The second Munich plaque is indeed waiting to come over to the museum. It is currently in store at Old Trafford and we are planning new display panels for our Munich commemorative display. Once we have the new panels we will then have the plaque and panels installed together, as the current display panels are the wrong shape and size. It is literally just the 'pitch' section of the plaque with the names on, not the complete memorial.


    There isn't really either a warehouse or a room full of items kept in storage for the museum but located outside the museum. There are various storage areas around the ground containing all manner of things from spare seats to the aforementioned plaque, but the plaque is only in there because we had no room in our Museum store for something so large. We do have a museum object store within the museum, which contains the club collection. It contains a large number of items that are periodically displayed in the museum."


    United's Communications Dept then got back to us and even managed to get a reply out of one of the Kens (we're still not sure which one, Ramsden or Merrett!). They told us: "The plan was to move the original when we started to create Exec facilities, (it was located above the Directors Entrance). It was set into concrete, I think, but in any event was damaged and could neither be repaired or removed." Again, no doubt moving such things would be possible now, but Cliff Butler also informed us about the memorial in the press room. "The original one was stolen from the Press Box in the 80s, the replica is now in the Press entrance behind the counter." Which journo stole that then?
    United's reply doesn't give much hope that much of the original plaque remains (if any?), and the cynic in me wonders if there actually is any of the plaque there at all, and was this story put out to appease any fans' anger if it leaked out. Sibelius on the forum wrote: "Perhaps it was fixed, and remains in place, but I wonder if reference to the plaque still being insitu is actually a reference to its remnants." 


    Whatever did happen, it is a sorry tale, for the fact that so little was really known about what happened to it, and why someone wasn't able to preserve it. But in the RN appeal another source of information came forward in a mailed letter.


    Mick Wilkinson of Darwen wrote in: "I work at the factory that made it and know one of the people who worked on it so I asked him about his memories of it. Trevor was in his 20s when he worked on it, he's in his 70s now. Shaws of Darwen who made it, actually made two. It was made in seven pieces and fitted together on site. The pitch is in 4 pieces, the figures 2 pieces, and the central feature between the figures the last piece. Two were made in case any part split or cracked when it was fired up in the kiln.


    It was made of clay and then sprayed to the colours it was and he thinks the lettering was picked out in gold leaf. When it was fired in the kiln it came out perfect and the 2nd one was not needed. This spare one stayed in the warehouse until 1982/83 when the company went bust and the site was cleared out so it went in the skip. The company opened under new management and is going strong to this day."


    A revealing insight into its birth, and two things immediately spring to mind. Firstly, if it’s sad that nobody was able to preserve the original, how unfortunate that United didn't contact Shaw as they had a replacement that could have been used to replace it with - as it is this rare and lost duplicate is probably somewhere out there, who knows where. And secondly if little old Red News can find out all this information, in little under a month with our limited resources, you would hope that a massive institution like the club itself would be better able to keep a tab on certain valuable pieces of information about our history and aspects of it.

    As it is, at least the current plaque resembles the first, though I don't like the idea of the plaque being 'around the corner' as it is now, displaced because of the Megastore. As some readers argued, surely when the ground is redeveloped and that area is filled in and the plaque has to move once again (make sure you don't fuck this one up United...) shouldn't it be in a more prominent position. For good this time.


    by Barney www.rednews.co.uk
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  4. #44
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    that was written for RN112 before the most recent plaque was houses in a permanent location
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  5. #45
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    I have written something on Fergie's departure and the excitement and fear of this new era over at http://giventoscore.com/2013/07/01/r...alex-ferguson/
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  6. #46
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    From the Reditorial of the RN202 Summer/Fergie Special that came out in July 2013…


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    So how do you try and sum all that up then? This Fergie, is the really impossible dream!


    But here goes. It will be, as it has been then, emotional.


    The wholly expected, seemed unexpected when it finally did arrive, and that which we should have been well prepared for, left us anything but. It still feels emotional. It was quick, it was sudden, it was right, and it was a fitting end, even more so, certainly when it comes to boring relatives in years to come about these years, that it ended the way it did, not just with overall success, but in a 5-5 emotionally draining bloodbath.


    There were three eventualities left for Fergie's end, an unusual combination of age and achievements affecting where, since 2005 at least (and a lot of humble pie eating on occasion from us all, as he often reminded the press of that period: “Don't forget, you lot had me at the door three years ago. Bloody hell! You had in me in my bath-chair down on Torquay beach!”) any sacking was out of the question; leaving retirement or that sometimes over lightly throwaway comment of ‘he will die on the job’.


    This perhaps was a comment not meant to shock or harm but only as his resignation sunk in did I realise how horrible it would have been to play out to this conclusion - for everyone, those attending any such game, those playing in it, his family. It could and should not have been like that, so he made sure it wouldn't. He would have known when, so he strode to it face on; the question of ‘when?’ was beginning to follow him around in every significant press conference he'd given in the last two or three years, and despite jovial replies, there was a point to this; a man who could pretty much do what he wanted, could not fight time. Even he knew it. “The sand is drifting through now”. Where once Patrice Evra just two years ago talked of Fergie saying: “No chance will I retire. I have worked all my life and I will work until I die. This is my victory. I cannot walk away from this.” But he had to. Philip Roth famously said ‘old age isn't a battle, it's a massacre’. and those of us who have seen the curse of age know it does catch your pace eventually. Fergie did bloody great fighting it off for as long as he did, more so than pretty much any sporting great in this era, that he was allowed to go out on a high at 71 with so much - hopefully - still to do and see is a great feat in itself.


    So I say what I have said everytime since the news; it was the right time, completely, because there'd be no perfect treble hoisting other right time to go, only these moments, not infinite, that would run out, or it would then become the wrong time, when life just came along and played its tricks. And so reclaiming a title was his last target (“I really need to go out a winner”) and something we sometimes again too glibly call ‘our trophy’ after what happened just last May seems as right as right can be. And not just the right time for him. This is the important bit, for the club it's the right time too, more than just being his time, it is ours; leaving a title winning side, at the right(ish) average age, with potential (with additions of course), so it is far removed, we hope, from post-Busby shenanigans. We know this is new territory, and it is scary, but we must embrace it. Hell it showed this was a new era when Fergie's dancing to the Courteneers at that mental title parade!


    Of course if we listed all his strengths, and the glory, we'd be here longer than city waited for a trophy, but suffice to say he rebuilt the stature and then glory and great sides of this great club, not just in the image of Busby and his vision for football and conduct (though ABUs would feed you bollocks about that) but adding his own, mixing it all up to add late winners and miracles to the United mix that makes this club of ours so unique and wonderful at its core. I have said before we are blessed to have had both these men, and maybe now we have time to reflect we will appreciate if not just what he achieved, than what Fergie was, and stood for. The last dinosaur of his earth, who managed when it was changing all around him to adapt and survive. Punch extinction on its general managerial nose.


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    Of course there were frailties; that is I am afraid part of our human condition, to err. I always felt wary after the early years to go for him as some did, especially with off field issues, for however disappointed I was with choices, I know I have made many mistakes so lectures seemed hypocritical even if we'd all wished from Coolmore, horse jizz and Glazers he'd come out more on our side, or acted the way we thought he may have once.


    We have had our run ins and our make ups even here. We had greater access in the early days when United wasn't the monolith it was now. When we started in the late 80s on pre-seasons where crowds were in their low thousands and there were no mobs outside hotels, you could walk in and be granted an interview. When those early days seemed to shift from scary waters to danger signals of relegation battles, these pages represented the views of concerned Reds who were beginning to doubt he could do it. If we'd known of course... but he told us that he was fundamentally opposed to fanzines if they criticised any of ‘his players’ as any sort of public slight, against any of them, automatically made you part of the problem, and not a support.


    This came to a head with RN founder (and lifelong Red) Teresa McDonald on a pre-season trip to Perth and after a friendly chat with Brian McClair agreed to a post match interview. Within earshot, Fergie came and grabbed Teresa, in front of a rather embarrassed Sir Matt it has to be said and ranted that we were all a disgrace to United and we could stuff this fanzine up our arses. (I never tried). He'd read an offending piece and reacted; she didn't have time to say she wasn't the actual author and as she then gave as good as she got the poor home staff didn't know what the heck was going on. It lasted seconds and seemed like hours. It seems mad now.


    And the next time they met, just a short while later? He hugged her and said ‘how are you doing?’, as if none of it had ever happened. In his mind it probably hadn't, to the extent that those recipients will remember it like an oven burn, scarring, and whilst we can argue over both fanzine and Fergie being in the wrong, I'd rather point to the bigger point that both forgot it, moved on, forgive and forget and all that and when Teresa fell seriously ill a few years ago, he immediately sent an inspiring and moving note of motivation with a package of items. The positive affect in that hospital when she read it I will never forget. He had that affect. It should always be good outweighing any bad. It was with him. He best summed up this complicated - and we all are such - nature up recently: “But I’ve never held grudges. In all the times I’ve banned you (the press) I’ve never borne a grudge. I don’t think it’s my style. I react, then forget about it some time later.”
    Perhaps his greatest gift was he made people forget he was human. If it is of our nature then to make mistakes, his genius was they were so few and far between so when they did occur, people were surprised or even shocked because they saw him on another level. They treated him like a God and reacted surprised when he showed his human side. This 71 year old man was viewed not as that or even like his peers but surpassing; he had elevated himself to such a level people couldn’t see his actual self. He performed miracles but he was not a miracle. He just had a knack. It worked. We can talk how and why, it just did. He got United and we got him and they sort of became entwined, even if at times after all this glory, we seemed to moan more than we should (or even used to during the shite). He is not United but he was at the same time. Thus, we felt so disappointed when he did make errors of judgement. Because we no longer saw him as one of us, even though he just was.


    As he performed that Mexican wave in the Legends game against Madrid, this man we had long depended upon, and looked up to, looked what he was, an old man - who has done remarkable things. But even with - still! - a relentless, possibly unique at his age, drive, there was no way he would be able to turn back time anymore, even if his sides often did.


    But this is not an obituary, and that is important because it shows it was the right time, and as such it doesn't mean you can't constructively deconstruct some of the darker moments, or even try and see how they were used for any team recovery. You see whilst there were achilles heels over a poorer record in Europe, and consistently playing people out of position, at times, at least when it came to tinkering, it began to work; for whilst us becoming accustomed to it is neither here nor there (though of course that pre-match raised eye brow at some choices would never cease), the players bought into not playing, so that whilst of course they all hoped they did, not many ever rocked the boat when they didn't.


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    As we see at other clubs - or don't see as they kick off about it - this was another part of his genius; as well as a protection of his players in public even though we can only guess at the bollockings they were getting in private. “I've said time and again that my job is to keep us out of the press. That's my biggest job. That's why I give you lot nothing.” And of course the purple faced defence of his players (as an extension, his club) from telling Geoff Shrevees to fuck off after he'd tried to dig for answers after a meagre FA Cup tie against Boro, to dig at Ronaldo’s falling down, or those violent purple attacks. The players recognised this as Michael Carrick put it so well: “I'm proud of the boys and the character we've shown this season but it all comes from the manager. You don't just play for this club, you live for this club once you're here.”


    And because he did give the press nothing, be it the odd lie or side step gossip, and they didn't forgive such Perth like bollockings as we did, they harboured, maybe without even knowing it, grievances that would come to the fore during any bad period; pathetic (both looking in design and execution) empire crumbling nonsense of our crest after just a few ropey results, something we must fight back against when it happens under Moyes. My generation coming from an era where we maybe wouldn't win for 10 or so games, to this one now, genius again, where so rare is it that two bad results on the bounce would have the press wanting to light the smoke in the chimneys for ill thought out ‘Fergie must go’ campaigns. He played them like a violin. One hand accusing them of being “youse are all fucking idiots”for criticising Veron, on the other deflecting scrutiny of a player he would not long after concede defeat about by selling, sort of validating their questions! Even in adversity, always ahead. Devious at times, of course.


    Pardon this particular analogy but it does seem to fit, so to speak. Once we went on a path which now seems so remarkable it's almost blase to recall; a title we never thought possible, and if it happened we'd happily just take the one, then to realise he meant business when he said we'd have lift off and go on and on, then Doubles, then a bloody (bloody hell) Treble, to the odd shakey moment but nothing major and certainly never any earthquakes so that this all seemed so settled, so nice and wonderfully predictable by the end, that I saw Fergie as an old treasured piece, like a trainer. There were uncomfortable early days settling in, then a few doubts but for that final end period you are in perfect harmony until you can go no further together. You want them to last forever but you know it can't, only hoping the next one will be half as good.


    You get me?!


    In a sport that is unrecognisable for many of us from our start, he was a reassuring constant, a link between past to worrying present. That has now gone, it closes that era, it'll never be the same. That's exciting and scary, and as an aside the greedy fuckers up top could have even more of an open session than maybe when Fergie might give them a withered look as to not go too far (if official noodle and Mexican banking partners weren't far enough!). He was us, even though it didn't feel like it at times. He was more us than we can ever hope any of the others in this greedy game to ever be. That's why Moyes feels ok, (and ok is ok when you consider the magnitude of change), because he's more past and present than future, with Chelsea and city a good look in the scary face of what the future of modern fucked up football is becoming.


    You spend your 20s and early 30s thinking you're invincible, then the remainder of that decade thinking you might not. By your 40s you know you're not so that all that remains is fighting off the inevitable (and I’m an optimist!), so for Fergie at his age to be not just seeing off the tide (as well as all comers) but dashing here and there whilst controlling not just the biggest club in the world but the one most rapidly expanding is pretty much incredible. Lost in a career that was defined by so many incredible facets you lose track. And only now he's gone will we realise in even greater magnitude that which we already realised, or should have; just how blessed we were.
    Let's be honest, though not United, football in general CAN be tiring, dull, settling into nothingness, bland to watch and be fed. United under him for 99% of the time was nothing like that. Even last season when we felt less excitement, it still had so much goonage and last minute thrillers (West Ham. Soton, Newcastle and on and on).


    I have sold outside probably 75% of all Fergie's games in charge. I have seen all the emotions, missed some of the goals, stayed in for the big ones (Nou Camp) but seen our emotions evolve. Bouncing with big wins, changing with the small ones, as if they are a conveyer belt and also seen greed enter our mindset. Did he change that much, or was it us? I hope we realise that we can't win them all, however much we want to, and that moaning our way through this next stage of evolution will do us no good whatsoever.


    So what memories to take, to cherish the most? An ability to always keep moving for starters. “I never count titles. The next one is always the best.” Of checking for sauce under the pastas, of bloody hells. Of winning over half of all the trophies this club has ever won. Of always being ahead. When asked after a defeat to Chelsea in ‘08 how he was feeling, “top of the league, semi-finals of the European Cup. Disaster”. We smiled some more.


    In his very last press conference. “It's difficult to know what to do for the best, but I certainly have no plans to start hanging round City's training ground. I gave up council housing a long time ago.” Of those child like jigs, and fist pumps, of pointing at watches, of creating exasperation and even the odd moan from the stands (I don't mean the tosspots not happy unless it's 5-0 at half-time) as we then score and you're trying to grab those words back down your throat. Of chewing gum as we chewed nails and begged just give us one final big comeback and we'd never pray for another (yeah, right!). Of changing the attitude of a club in decline (“My job was to bring in players who were hungry, who would react to adversity.”). Of not being afraid of progress (embracing so much use of science at United - “I’m a dinosaur, but what I am is a winner”), and his players embracing his concepts as he would them.


    Of always wanting the win, when everyone else would settle for the draw, Denis Law saying “He was conscious of playing attractive football to give value to people who pay good money.” Of squeaky bum time. “No question about that”, of revelling in adversity, buying into it and selling it to his players so they didn’t shirk it.


    And, of course, “My greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their fucking perch. And you can print that.”, but doing it so well that Liverpool have long ceased, bar the ongoing off field rivalry, of being anything approaching relevant. Noisy neighbours, and not selling Madrid a virus (shame he then sold them Ronnie instead…), the hairdryer, and the vendettas. Of Lee Martin and Mark Robins, the opposite of big names, setting the ball rolling. Of recovering from 1992. Of Eric. Embracing him and his collars as well as his temperament and utilising it with the siege mentality that would leave us in such good stead. Of spotting Bayern’s knack and getting so many ex-players back involved at the club... Or it's just too bloody hard to try and break it all down.


    As he himself said: “It's hard to actually go through 26 and a half years, it's impossible.” He achieved the impossible (that song again). Peter Schmeichel said: “There are thousands of better coaches. But management? The handling of men? There's nobody better.” Harry Gregg talked of his achievements: “Alex Ferguson rescued an institution not just a football club.


    He talked in his final week of his life ahead. “I am going to fill it with nonsense and madness!” He gave us both, in unimaginably great ways. We have said before, he changed our lives. Those of us who saw dark days, now bathed in success shared with people who have known nothing but success and light. He changed United, but still managed to remain much the same man - the good and the occasional bad - who arrived over half a century ago in a world much changed, and often gone mad.
    Think of his final speech on the pitch, one that down played any self interest, inspiring a long injured player, telling the players of the responsibility of our shirt, and how we must all send our encouragement to David Moyes. It was unscripted majesty. This era was exactly that. You couldn't have made this up. Nobody would have believed you. For that, and everything else, thank you Alex Ferguson and as important as anything, I hope he gets to enjoy this well deserved retirement. Bobby Charlton talked earlier in the season of him never leaving: “I think he’ll be there for the rest of time, to be honest". But he will be. He wasn't Manchester United but he became part of it, part of its very fabric. Life sometimes doesn't turn out quite the way you want it to.. but United, somewhat incredibly, did turn out exactly the way we'd not just like it to, but dreamt it to be - proper pie in the sky, ‘please let this happen’ Hollywood stuff.. and then some.


    He gave us anxiety, then trophies, then Eric, then the league, then great football, then the Holy Grail, and he didn't let up, so neither did we. Every one of us loved him, to varying degrees, myself pretty much unconditional by the end (bar Gimps support), but without doubt every one of us had a better life - not just football but the contentedness that footballing success can bring to your wider worlds - because of him. He didn't try. He did. The boxer Joe Louis at the end of his time said: “I did the best I could with what I had.” Fergie did even better than he should with what he had, and made greats and truly great times from what he had.


    Fergie, bloody hell. Thank you Sir Alex. For everything.


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  7. #47
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    Well that was the ultimate bad sex then, like a Michael Bay film; all noise (usually the voice of Sky's Jim White) and a lot of hyped action but the actual dialogue and reality leaves you feeling a bit flat. And in need of a lie down.


    Is that all there was?


    I'm a Fellaini fan. He ticks the box for me with a bit of bite, and guile don't forget, and a steadily improving player who, hopefully, as none of us really know, will continue that trajectory at a higher rate at a bigger club. But I hoped he'd be if not the sideshow to the main event, not the big signing alone.


    But he is, it seems as though he's the only one (of note, right now, the Fabio Coentrao stuff rumbles on) so whilst that flatness gets slightly flatlined as it's not quite the doom of nobody that we feared at around 10.58pm last night, we know rivals have strengthened, possibly quite or very well, and as we heard talk of United's unlimited ambition - and backing - few would have thought this would be the end result. We fear it might not be enough. Granted, the bloated excess of United fans sometimes means we always fear and moan it's not enough; but on this, we had a point. We had no Fergie.


    We'll regroup of course, we always do. We're mumble amongst mates and under our breath over pints and before and after games but if some hysterically cry for the return of David Gill after years of slagging (though Pete Shaw has a point, he should have maybe given more time to showing Woowar the ropes), we'll back United - well, most of us - during games with the support they need.


    But we're allowed to ask questions, more importantly finally seek adult answers and head scratch as to what exactly happened as whilst journos get to grips with stories of imposters in Spain pretending to be United officials (and no, apparently this wasn't Edward 'Woowar' Woodward himself), we wonder what exactly did occur this summer; the talk of deals coming in the next few days, months ago, that disappeared exactly like Woowar's farcical own departure from Sydney that we never seemed to recover from transfer wise. What message did that send out?


    The problem there is we looked not like the biggest club in the world, certainly not with might, more in fright, and all with the bloody air of Garry Cook at city, all that's missing Woodward greeting his new arrival with 'alright brother' on the official site video next week, as we were unhappy voyeurs to this window, griping after United continuing to pluck official partners like a magician out of thin air (how many tyre companies can they bag, can there be?!), yet ours more of the Paul Daniels variety. Oh, and poor old Ander Herrera in all this - we finally had a player who had said yes to us, and we left him stuck outside the cinema like a jilted blind date.


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    Questions Woowar might consider then…


    - why bid so low for Fabregas right from the off? A World Cup Winner after all, and over rely on that bid, without a Plan B (as one wag wrote in RN203, he'd have taken Ben Drew by the end), and then rush around deadline weekend like Dale Winton chasing us with a stopwatch.


    - this urgent business bollocks, it was a rod for his and our backs, and then after that, then just go awol and tap fingers for a good few weeks and then suddenly leave everything until the very last weekend. It's not very professional, is it?


    - why try and beat the clause system, this is United. Clubs try and fleece us. Always will, always have. You are not going to suddenly get them to reduce the price as if you're buying a carpet at a market place.


    - the debt is still 300m and an always ongoing worry but nonetheless half of that which it used to be, as official partners stream in from tomato juice to tyres - the money from that which would seriously shake the bigger teams and tempt them and their players always seems to be held onto, like me clutching a rare £50 quid note in my pocket and not wanting to let it see daylight. The Ronaldo money was always there, we were told, but never used. Will it ever be? (and that's not including the topping up to that which should have happened… adopts cynical pose).


    - Fellaini was a target in May. He was Moyes' shoe in, they reckoned. And we left it until the final hours of the final deadline day to force through, paying more than his actual clause was that ended a few weeks earlier. Take that on Dragon's Den and see where it gets you. It seriously defies logic.


    It's time questions were asked. And answered. We asked Woowar for an interview, no copy approval, hard stuff, but no answer, it'll be honey coated when he does it, cheese to camera. All fake smiles and shiny suits. No real depth, or serious engaging.


    I fear that whilst Woodward needs to answer questions about these senior management mistakes early on, Moyes will be included in the abuse too - and look, I realise this is a huge new role for Woodward but some of my concern is that some of these were basic mistakes (pr or otherwise) that should have been stopped right from the off, a new role doesn't stop you from realising hyping up deals won't work well unless they are signed. He's old and canny enough (you'd hope) to have not made some of these basic human errors. Do not inflate your own ego; the club should speak for itself.


    Moyes of course has some questions though; why he didn't fancy Thiago, or think Modric was up for the big games, and stayed clear of Ozil, the very big names, who have done it at the highest level, that matched those very big bold ambition statements we heard talk of in July, yet he seemed to not want to work with them; he's got to learn for a club our size, we seek the stardust, the arrogant, the best.


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    But surely he must feel disappointed at the lack of backing from above. Not words, their (in)actions. When he saw at Anfield despite all the talk of a good performance - really? - that we needed the midfielders, that he himself had talked of in July and Mike Phelan had also identified now he was no longer 'on the inside.' We've now known it so long it's almost like a bad in-joke, makes me so lunatic I wonder if we'll ever properly address it.


    I continue to make it clear that I want to see Moyes' given time, and hope it will work out and he is given the crucial early support he needs from Reds. It will take time but with the size of United, and expectations, to then see his new boss mishandle such a vital transfer window will not do him any favours. He needed support. On many levels.


    It'll show his talent - hell, it might even mean we finally see Kagawa get a run of games and see if he's as good as some think or as duff as others fear, I'm the former by the way - because we know Fergie was able to get an extra percentage, or ten!, from the players, which probably gave us a healthy extra few points than anyone else would and without that to rely on, Moyes will have to work harder to not see that reduced too much when the title race is decided (and yes doomlords, we will be in this title race). With Fergie's squad and his main man he always wanted, we'll be able to see a direct show of how they compare, if of course not like for like, how well Moyes can do to keep things on track. It was quite obvious real backing in the market would have helped with this.


    None of this is new of course, we've bagged a few big ones in recent times - Rooney, RVP - but for some time struggled to really get to grips with dramatically improving the squad each season, remembering Fergie's point that we were always a moving bus, instead now chasing impossible rainbows and somehow symbolic of 'great owners' who though backed in press conferences by their managers, don't really show it in return in transfer clout, or in real backing. However obscene the whole sorry dance of this transfer window is, the fact is during the biggest transfer market ever, with a new manager and a squad that needed backing because if it didn't got away with it last year (and at times it did) it certainly over relies on certain players, we spent only slightly more than Cardiff this window.


    As RN forumite red lester put it:


    "11 points ahead last season over two clubs in disarray for most of the season. Not the case this time round."


    There are so many things to either cry, vent spleen or be absolutely baffled about this window, but as fans we don't get much time to dwell, we have to plan our next games, support, because that's what we do, and we'll once again have to don the tin hats, because there is always a siege mentality at this club, because these are the cards, back the team and Moyes on a matchday but away from that, we need to keep asking these questions, why I think it's shambolic Woowar disappeared and didn't return in public wherever he was to face the music, not fronting an interview so Moyes faced a barrage all tour about transfers and Rooney, and basically left to it. Whilst Woodward did what exactly? 'Worked on deals. Lots of them.', no doubt. And not all come off, as we know from even PLC days. But this was one of the most important summers in recent memory.


    Get behind the lads then, direct pertinent questions to Moyes, and demand serious answers from senior management who seemed to act nothing like is fitting for a club of Manchester United's stature and with Florida hands all over our purse strings, continue to fail to grasp the fact that if they give proper backing in the transfer market, it actually makes their life - and plans - easier.


    A message to them then, the owners and Board. We do our bit. We hope the manager will grow and do his but, and the team, his team now, if though still lacking in *that* (shudders) area, will continue to do theirs. How comes time and time again as your grubby hands finger our beloved, you fail to do yours?


    I am pleased we got Fellaini, but wanted more. I do think, however tired of him, that Rooney staying is important, could be vital and hopefully will be crucial come next May, but it's all been such a sorry dance that you can't help but feel dirty by it all - all our hopes, all those hours wasted checking for it to happen, and then a rather deflated feeling that it was all pretty much a waste of time. Fellaini will want to prove that feeling his a bit disrespectful. I hope so. Prove you're United class then, because we need to start signing the best, the stardust, to stay ahead of the pack in this post Fergie era.


    That feeling of 'meh' can't last for long. United have 35 league games to fight for the league as holders, and we have to back them, and him. And we will do. Those who manage him however, need to ask themselves though if they gave him the backing that he needed in these crucial early days.


    Thank God it's over. I seriously never want to go through that again.


    Barney 11.58pm September 2nd 2013.


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  8. #48
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    Editorial from RN204 on Edward Woodward's summer, David Moyes' pressure and how following Manchester United is still fun as a fan

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    David Moyes may already have taken a walk around Old Trafford on a non-matchday to see the club he now manages in all its glory. He could have driven down Sir Matt Busby Way, parked on the road soon to be granted the status of Sir Alex Ferguson Way (always his way, of course), and walked past the Alex Ferguson Statue as he sat and looked at the stadium that whispers such memories from a seat in the Alex Ferguson Stand. That in itself is some weight of history, or as Robert Penn Warren noted: ‘the past is always a rebuke to the present.’ Few manage to hush it.


    If the weight of all that expectation from history wasn't hefty enough, you can't help but feel that alone with his thoughts, Moyes may have given one of his angry Gollum like stares at a transfer window that seemed so complex, much of our own desperate making. For such shoes, ground, statue, and roads to fill, he needed a huge helping hand - he needs it off us too (see last Ed) - from senior management who had agreed with Fergie’s request to appoint him, and instead seemed to produce a window best summed up as one we’ll never want to repeat. Or live through again.


    We always have the right to prod, probe and ask questions, but there comes a balance. We wanted more than we got, but this is what we got. I think too many people moan too often about United, ignoring the real big issue, or picking it up at convenience, on a whim; the Glazers should matter more often than just when we don't sign X or Y, or lose a few games. I repeat that if some fans are not prepared to give a new manager, following all that, not even a season to judge what he's about here then it says more about them than it does actually him. Granted most of the real bile heading towards Moyes is on twitter, at times more rancid than a walk across Stanley Park to the United entrances in the 1980s, but life is different shades of colour, and so is United, and we have to try and weigh up all that happened this summer with perspective. I mistrust the Glazers, I don't think a new manager AND a new Chief Executive was a wise move, and I think both should have done better in the transfer window, but as with every argument and event at MUFC, there is texture, it is not done and dusted in 140 characters and nor is what you or I say or think at a particular moment in time ever completely right, both sides can make salient points rather than ignoring another view out of hand as if only yours matters.

    So whilst many of can agree it was a summer of fiasco, unhinged drama, inexperience, pain, draining, and ended with many of us ultimately agreeing we did not get what this squad needed, namely it was Fellaini and A N OTHER(S) that we required to help us maintain a serious challenge, on all fronts, we won't know for sure the impact, if any, until the very end of the season. And equally, there is THE paradox. Despite the madness of the window (and it was lunatic, come deadline day I think we were all in some sort of frenzied zombie dimension, and in what fantasy world would Harry Redknapp talking out of a car window considered to be part of its fun?!) we did actually improve the squad, albeit by one, and so that whilst doubts remain over the whole, it is still a better squad than last May. And however tiresome he and his sagas (preferred it when he was flirting with SAGA) are, we still kept the fat Scouser who can win us games alone.


    But this isn't a post briefing let off for United. It was badly handled, seemed to border on the absurd, it was way too public at its start, then desperately concluded, and maybe because of all that, our post-window reactions pretty much ignored that we finally got that long sought after lesser spotted midfielder (Henry Winter after his own briefings suggesting we'd been trying for that spot since 2007, as if the very position was a near extinct animal), but a title winning squad was improved. That is important.


    Yet many of us feel we needed more, that this transfer squandering, and doggy paddling isn't actually anything new, that the sum of all these parts bar the Fellaini arrival this summer was still bathed in classic Glazernomics; history certainly suggests so, as we realise it's just a net spend transfer wise since 2005 of £132.4m, or a rather deflating £14m per season, that the Ronaldo money was never actually spent, and then when pacified with briefings that it was still ‘always there’, stored away in Gill's office like some humongous piggy bank saved for a rainy day, the reality in the Woodward invester conference call last week: “we don’t expect to build up large cash balances.” (ie, not on ground development, or big transfer spends). So despite talk of unlimited budgets and ambitions to the media, in the real world, they haven't even spent the rather small £25m a season they promised in their original business plan. They are so lucky they had Fergie. We can rejoice with sarcasm at an official nutritional supplements partner in Japan, but continue to ask exactly where does all that commercial money end up if not on the stadium, or the players that fill it?


    The achievements since their arrival could be pinpointed to the genius, and madness of his miracles, of Sir Alex, and without his power of winning say a few extra points each season by his je ne sais quoi, the man with the unenviable task of replacing him clearly needed a transfer budget larger and spent more wisely than one that positioned us lodged between Cardiff and Norwich. But football, especially Manchester United, is not Football Manager despite what a 15 year old blogger in Timbuktu may tell you. We have always had problems signing players; it can be traced back to the 1970s when we were underwhelming payers of player wages, to the 80s when we couldn't attract the names (Butcher, Lineker) needed to transform us earlier than we did, and then the ineptitude of the likes of Kenyon with Ronaldinho or the near endless DVD repeats of ‘he may come this summer’ that always ejected near the end for the likes of Batistuta, Kluivert, and that old favourite, Wesley Sneijder, so close to coming that I even stored to lasting memory how to spell his name without checking. Our underwhelming reaction to the transfer window is nothing new. Usually results, or the new players, then surprise us. Can we keep pulling that rabbit out, even under new management? When others year-in, year-out continue to outspend? Can United - with all that turnover - keep not buying targets like Baines because of ‘value’ and look so inept in the market?


    I'm told it was a deliberate policy to go from the Fabregas daily briefings to radio silence until that rather unedifying final weekend as United realised early summer mistakes and we are told Woowar will learn from this. But I'm more concerned with his amateurish human errors, than his business ones, telling people like longstanding fans' reps in Sydney that ‘Fabregas was a done deal’ is only going to bite you on the arse. I look unfavourably not at what he missed out on - that unfortunately is still, shit happens, especially if you're under bidding or leave it so late - but the way he handled it. Not fronting up after he went awol from Sydney, when we were all laughing at him by that stage, to appear and cop the flak is the point you start to look bad beyond fanzine circles and do something about it, well, the good Chief Executives do.


    Despite the dubious briefings to Winter or Taylor after the event, whilst the Rooney saga did sap energy and spirit at the club with their constant reassurances to force staying (though United still did expect a request or final push from his people, and this isn’t over), it did not take every waking moment and they had long enough from things settling down leading up to Swansea, to not look so desperate then floating down the Suwannee in the days that remained. An hour or so to placate the ever noisy Rooney brigade still leaves plenty more time, unless the rest of Woodward’s time was spent trying to orienteer back from Sydney from wherever he actually ended up - and if it was the island of Lost, by now we all certainly felt in purgatory.


    What the summer showed is exactly what United now are, a completely new run United, fears that it'll be even more Glazer inspired, when it could be argued, Fergie's more private way, away from the fellatio to the likes of Mr Potato and Manda Fermentation, saw the club being run very well as it was; if it ain't broke and all that.

    And yet, the other side of the coin, this complexity that exists on all levels at modern Utd; many of us don't want city like spending, quick plaster strips just to buy five more in, throwing money like a fat twat in a strip club ‘because he can’, many of us want youth to come through the system as it always has, yet get impatient if players like Daniel Welbeck show immaturity and inexperience when in the first team. We want it all, yet at no cost. At times it can all fit the jigsaw, at other times, none of it makes sense.


    David Moyes said at Everton: “It is good if you can get your boys in at pre-season and get them involved. It gives everyone a lift.” And that was, in this post Fergie haze and maze, what we all wanted, was a lift. It's probably why we frothed so much on September 3rd. Some may argue why do we need it, we're Champions after all, but we appear light for any European campaign against clubs who we should be competing with every single season now with our resources (in theory). But for yet another another window, it didn't happen. So do we sulk, or get on with it? There should become provisos with that of course. Them... The lingering presence of the Glazers can be traced back far longer than Edward Woodward replicating Quinn Paterson in the Mad Dogs series in Spain this summer. Their lack of communication back to us - still nobody official at the clubs speaks to its oldest fanzine - all seems rather immature.


    And despite the hideous caveat it's done because of the debt, is the fact that transfer wise we are living within our means something to be pleased about, so our only debt, is their debt, unlike others who ignore FFP, or do we enviously end up eyeing the sugar daddies like at city where the disparity of transfer money spent, compared to income, is stark and, as we sarcastically look towards Platini, seemingly no end in sight. Should this make us happy that we do business as we do, that Utd despite the Gimps, are run apart from that as a debt free year on year business (there is a sad irony to all that), or is the whole thing simply so fucked, that none of football industry makes sense anymore, if it ever did, so if you can't beat them off the field, just join them? Paris St Germain would argue that latter point, yet it's all a bit sad, as Anzhi Makhachkala would now testify. Everything seems to fucking complicated.


    This complexity of opinion extends to the terraces too. We know Old Trafford can be a right old sea of oddballs at times for games these days, and the changes to it have seen many changes, not many for the better. It has its moments but its lost something too. With a bit of club-fan dialogue that can change - and eventually who knows, lead to the promised land of some safe standing - but it also at times gets completely written off, as if abandon hope all ye who enter here, as if there is nothing to be had from going to a game anymore, certainly no fun. When in fact, on its day, it can still be a top day. Not as often as we'd like, with not as many, and that decline slowly eroding to away games too, but again, that gets written off, sometimes by people not there which probably helps them deal with not being there, as they say ‘United is finished’, ‘the matchday is finished’, and whilst it's awful much that has happened to our culture - what they have done to us; our game, our conditions, mistaking the need for safety and the good that came from that with being greedy with a host of shit add-on conditions like prices, kick off times, Sky on deadline day, Hull Tigers or whatever bollocks it is, Cardiff in red. But United is and never will be finished.


    The away match day goon can still be top quality. We may rightfully groan at the half and half scarf brigade, and point out the ones wearing them at say Anfield, but also rewind, still be thankful it's only one or two being noticed, and because they stand out as a minority - still - that's why you are noticing the oddballs. As pictures like this half and halfer in our end at Anfield splutter around the internet, what about the 1000s who still get it, because despite all the self fulfilling prophecies of shitness, away games are still the same familiar faces - at times too old - not quite as high numbers as we'd like what with finances and hassles a problem for us all, but enough still there, and a good few kids coming through too who with a bit of nous and education (not from the likes of me, I've still not learnt how not to be a bit of a dick when ale is added!) will carry the baton. Whilst jester hat has entered the Utd lexicon apart from the odd few how many do you actually ever see with you in your pubs before a game, or at OT; so slightly OTT?


    It is never the doom laden experience pronounced by the doomlords; attending United games is still a great element to our lives, which adds to our lives. I'd still choose a United game and going away with United (when I can afford it), or a pre or post match pint with mates over 99% of the dull life away from Utd what with Jim White shouting, or Phil Mitchell shouting on a soap, Simon Cowell earning millions leeching on no hopers or Dev getting away with murdering acting skills. United is better than the drone of real life, and the real world; and I actually really enjoy my real life away from United! At United there is always hope and the fact that the majority of us will still buzz and goon at a goal, game, and matchday, discounts the theory that it is all simply finished; again an all too easy put down which ignores the many complex issues around it. Football as it was has gone. We've sadly struggled to deal with that ever since and shape what we want to come next. But don't make out football ‘back then’ was perfect either; we had plankton follow us then, it's just higher numbers now, at a higher capacity, changed, sat down, ignoring you or I, Old Trafford.
    Following United may have many ills, and we must never stop fighting at the ones who diseased our club with their debt, but it is not game over, and nor hopefully is this squad that once again has been written off. Fellaini without the A N OTHER now shoulders big expectations but who knows, he may just like that and grab that challenge. We've seen it before at this club.


    So many views, so much shouting. Sitting there then, Moyes may quietly have taken in the magnitude of the club during this transfer window, and it might not be such a bad thing to learn, mistakes and all, that the demands here seem as big as anyone bar Real Madrid. And on our part, it's alright to realise, we can be right, and wrong, on certain topics from time to time, and they can change, about this thing we love. It's also ok to have fun too after an online rant. In a world where we can be a mix of pessimists, optimists, realists, pragmatists, and annoying gits, United has always made me see its glass as half full rather than half empty, as we've in recent times seen our (football) glass overspill. Going to games for me, and from the buzz of people at away games, and the odd home, is still a glass half full experience, despite what those with empty glasses may tell you. Nobody knows if Moyes will prove the doubters wrong, or his supporters right, but I'd rather be one of those who gave him time to find out, rather than not enough to properly tell. And sing a few songs and get behind the lads in the process.


    History is on his back. We don't have to be.


    So whilst the arguments around this transfer window were as complicated as they were troublesome let us remember what Sir Alex Ferguson said in that fascinating Harvard project: “From the moment I got to United, I thought of only one thing: building a football club. I wanted to build right from the bottom.” With that job done so that United now is another beast in size to then, now is the time to look at it from the top rather than bottom. And from up top, senior management must give Moyes the right resources next time to preserve that football club which the commercial and financial side, so depends on. Whilst we worry about half and halfers going to Utd, I ignore them as much as I can as the game is still more life absorbing and life affirming than it is not - it is still despite it all a great thing in our lives, and our concentration should be more on those who are employed to run Old Trafford, and who own it, than those sorry few who sit in it with their odd paraphernalia.


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    From the Editorial of December’s RedNews208, published December 21st 2013.


    New RedNews209 out Saturday 11th January 2014.


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    With all that change, with all that we’ve seen come our way, scared to lose any of it, we were bound to have if not squeaking bum time, then leaking arses with nerves during any ‘transition’, a term that both explains the upheaval and mystifies in that a squad still so capable, has at times looked anything but.


    As Fergie was a paradox so were his teams, and at times their achievements were beyond what we thought possible of them, and whilst some see the facts clear and simple that this squad won that 20th league by that many points, so how can they decline so much now, others knew Fergie’s magic was papering over certain cracks and without the necessary Polyfilla this summer - what we all said was a huge series of mistakes that could bite us back - there is only so long you can keep flogging that horse, convincing it that it can go on and win again. And take away that genius convincing them of all that, and here is where we are.


    But the Champions should be doing better, and would be right up there with Fergie still here, but the midfield issue was always going to eventually cave-in - and a debate for another day just how lacklustre we’ve been at signing proven quality midfields since the mid 90s (once you take away the name of Roy Keane out of the equation) - as our rivals did the spending that we should have, so us coming a Roy Cropper was somewhat inevitable. We can all agree that the drop back down to reality should not have been as bad as it has. That none of us expected.


    And it is after each setback when concerns over Moyes intensify. Some I feel are valid, he is yet to properly grasp the ‘United way’ and manner and sometimes in front of cameras he has the air of vapidity, saying more the wrong thing than the right and his perceived negativity - which I have no doubt is a self defence mechanism - overplayed our opening five games so that we were on the back foot from the off. Too negative an outlook. The football at times too has been depressing to watch, an un-United way. Games that, and this is unsettling us all, we no longer feel confident about as we approach. I can’t remember the last game I felt we’d win, for sure, beforehand. How spoilt of me I know, but I’ve not enjoyed it!


    But whilst those at United games have been solid behind him during these early stages - even if some keep their counsel just after the game - online it’s been a bit of a mess. I suppose that’s inevitable when those that make the necessary sacrifices to get to a or the match will be shouted down by those sat comfily on a sofa ready to tweet their disgust during and after a game they’ve made little effort for, the exaggerations of opinion forget that only two years ago we were playing in the latter stages of the Europa League, a title quest still on silenced what was an awful, and mainly ignored, set of fixtures on Thursday nights. This squad, as well as its football, has been up and down for a while; Fergie, RVP’s arrival, and results over style kept the din down.


    There were signs that this was coming. We knew Fergie could be worth X amount of points with strength of character and convincing his players alone, and Moyes would be well advised to embrace what we stand for; our ethos, not just the will and want to win, but the way that we do it. Those fans singing all game on the Stretford End in a rather dour game against Shakhtar will continue to stand, and stand with him, if he does actually play like Fergie’s boys, rather than, and this has oddly disturbed me as much as any one thing this season, pulling all our players back for opponents corners, rather than having an outlet, allowing us a chance for one of our famous counter attacks. Seeing United play like an away team at Old Trafford is not good for the soul. It is understandably unsettling after years of our teams, well, in the really good days, running towards not just any challenge, but any fight, but now seeming to refuse it; or, at the very least, refuse belief in themselves that Fergie gave them. A few should take note of Darren Fletcher’s incredible will and determination to wear the shirt that you fear some take for granted.


    Everton fans are loving this up and down season. They’ve even changed our song (youtube it). “Stuck with Moyes, stuck with Moyes, Man Utd, playing football in a negative way.” And a few nodding sages will agree, saying they never wanted him. Well we have him (a move I supported), and to suggest getting rid after just 15 games is lunacy. It’s not United, we don’t want to become a Chelsea, a nother side, and what would it do for future managers to know they are judged on such short scraps. This is not Moyes’ team, it is one that has too few stars, one he needs to rebuild. He deserves to build a team then if not in his honour but in ours, to see where we are in a year’s time, without the deadwood. Mixed messages everywhere too. Rio, error strewn this season on and off the pitch, suggesting teams can play at below par and win - well we can’t, never have! - and then United’s clown apprentice tweeter who told us, via Moyes, that basically it’s the whole god damn thing that needs improving. Lads, that doesn’t look good. We should be better than that.


    At times you wish they’d all be a bit more quiet. David Moyes doesn’t appear as media savvy as you’d hope for someone so experienced, and seems to give them too much of his time, and too much information, a scatter gun series of up and down quotes that come at us when we’re reeling and don’t inspire like Fergie’s aggressive, ‘youse are all fucking idiots’ could, enabling a siege mentality. Somehow Fergie, and he did get stick for it, managed to glue the mess together and make it art. Brilliant art. With Fergie we could get away with saying if it ain't broke don't fix it, but we felt the parts did look worn and now it looks broke, we’ve been too slow reacting after the event and ignoring too many long term warning signs. Each time we’ve seemed to have started to turn a corner - Arsenal, Leverkusen - we’ve hit a red light, let’s hope the win at Villa was significant, but at least some Reds are greeting this strangeness with good (gallows?) humour: “We are staying up, we are staying up!”. We have to stick together (I won’t say it in a Brummie advert voice).


    But if we were winning all the time, we’d be ignoring the little traits that are now picked up from every angle aimed at Moyes. Because it’s different, people don’t like it. They never like change. I’ve felt jittery even though I experienced time before SAF, I suppose after joking that we’re ready for the crap days again if needs be, none of us actually are, nor want to go back there, especially if it’s swapping places with the Scousers. I think we have to take a backward step, to be a bit more patient, because these are not the crap days, that’s when you can see what he means when he says it is transition, and try and avoid the lunacy of modern football, that already seems to have seen the vultures circle over nearly every manager in the Premier League this season, and each appears defined by their last three or so results. It is disappointing that after Arsenal, when we thought a more positive corner had been turned, we reversed back into arse flapsville, but the nuclear fall out after the two home defeats seemed much more of a bleak winter than the good feeling from the unbeaten run. Again, somewhere in between, probably this season lies. Not great but there you have it. And it’s still good enough to get into the top 4, and beyond, with a bit more positive thinking.


    Many make issue of him getting rid of Fergie’s coaches, though let’s be honest, with DDG ever improving, it’s only Rene we pine for, for his one to one work. But I can understand Moyes’ thinking, imagine now, with these results, if he suspected the old guard were whispering about his faults, behind his back? United life, on terraces, with the owners, is poisonous enough at the best of times these days, that would have been another minefield. We can’t have that poison spreading and becoming terrace rebellion at the start of this new tenure, look how bad the Scousers looked when they took on Houllier and relentlessly went for him. Bile during games does not build.
    In a week when Utd fans were once again choosing sides between Fergie and Keane (it’s getting as tiring a series as Rocky Part 56 now), a rare dose of tranquility came from the Corkonian on ITV at the Shakhtar march: “I think there’s been a slight over reaction to the past week. I think it’s time for cool heads. Give the manager an opportunity to make his mark on the club and give him a bit of time. I think everybody needs just to relax just a little bit and give him a chance to put a marker on it over the next year or so. United fans aren’t daft, they’ll be right behind him, they’ll understand what’s been going on, and I don’t think there’s any need to panic, United fans are great, I think the fans are eight behind and will get behind David Moyes.” When Roy is telling us to relax, you know some of us have tensed up to almost Rigimortis levels.


    When some leave games and say “I’ve never seen it this bad”, they’re telling porkies. The expression the last few seasons in this column was “our bland efficient” approach was working - it’s been pretty uninspiring to watch now for three or so years, ever since Ronaldo left. Teams have sussed us out, worked out that we’ve been weak at Old Trafford for a while now, letting in too many goals for a couple of seasons. For all the negatives and head shaking - and we can’t deny them, there have been positives; him stroking Rooney’s ego, the chances for Adnan, him taking full responsibility for results when that’s not quite the truth, but it’s the right thing to do and something others might not have done. He has not hid even though some wish he might have. Eyes trained on him and him alone though means some of the players have coasted, when it should be their bollocks on the line. It will be though, when he sorts out who has or hasn’t been siding with him. And, sadly a recurring theme, not enough fingers pointing at the owners who wank the commercial devil but whilst millions slipped out of our fingers into theirs and their banks, under financed our squad, woefully and willfully after the Ronaldo sale, so that to think life after Fergie could also survive on the relatively low annual spend as others build is as daft as anything Lee Ryan would say. You despair that whilst we’re great at signing partners, we seem pretty abject at signing players.


    Fergie too, perhaps knowing he didn’t have the energy or time to rebuild yet another squad, also left a weakening squad, even if it were a title winning squad, a problem for any successor to deal with. He knew last November of his change; we don’t know how strong he made his message about how important it was to strengthen from a position of strength, but the club failed in doing so. And whilst he notes in his book that city lost their chance for successive titles by not competing in the transfer market immediately afterwards, we saw all our rivals really go for it this summer; and just looked amateurish ourselves. We all saw this coming and like a rabbit caught in headlights, failed to comprehend that it was so close.


    I also think the players got more complacent than they should have, that coasting Rio’s tweet alludes to. They were allowed also to celebrate ‘20’ for way too long, it went on for weeks. There didn’t seem to be a buckling down - move on to the next trophy aim - like we always hear as soon as the changeover was announced. Kept partying. Results were sliding from April onwards.


    But the press are loving this as are ABUs so that alone should make us close ranks more, when that doesn’t happen it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable seeing such venom towards our own from our own on public platforms; it’s what ‘THEY’ all want. We all know they and ABUs have waited years for this opportunity to propel a shitstorm, United fans, in front of them, can’t be seen to encouraging and actively creating more even though at times it’s hard to take, especially for those experiencing this seasickness of really up and down results for the first time. The sight of Moyes wrestling with Ben Arfa for the ball in the dying minutes against Newcastle was more embarrassing than inspiring. Again, he needs to quickly find that United handover booklet and be better briefed.


    What is Manchester United about? It’s about support, difference, and certainly backing and giving managers time. As well as the football we want to see. Many thought there was no hope with Fergie in ‘89, and yes different times with a really crap squad but then we’d go 14-15 matches without one win. There is always hope at United and why you have to give it time. Not indefinite, but United, and surely sanity, is not about saying after 4 months, with his predecessors squad, without backing from loathsome owners, away you go. It’s not unconditional, nor indefinite but people need to realise, you do know when faith leaves, when it is time. It becomes clear. It’s bottling out of titles, fans showing real hatred, teams totally fucked (Atkinsons, after that 85/86 ten game run), or a continually bland un-United football that lasts for years (Sexton). It is not now. To even suggest it suggests some have become a bit too new age fan. You may not like Moyes, we all have fears, but you have to be calm. As someone on the RN forum joked: “Its all fucking Alex Ferguson’s fault, he was just too fucking good for too fucking long.”


    There is a fear from some that if this haphazardness continues the repercussions grow, more in players not wanting to join us than financial losses for the leeches (and our best players wanting out, whilst part of me thinks fuck them, is a concern), would make the job almost impossible. I don’t know… We simply have to get into that top four, that is a given, though I dread the fact that we may have to celebrate ‘just’ that achievement as if worthy of note come May. I think we’ll do it though. That first trophy, quickly, is vital.


    We can’t have him being shaped by the galleries though. “I was due to take RVP off after 60 minutes, but if I had, people would have said, ‘What are you doing?’” That creates more ‘Dithering Dave’ fears and whilst many looked at that negative quote before Newcastle: “They are coming to OT and we will make it as hard and as difficult for them as possible.”, I didn’t like his comments to MUTV that day which got ignored: “Because I know what it’s like, to try and win 3/4 games in a row in the PL is a hard thing to do.” It’s not though, is it, certainly not at United. A few days later he finally did say the right thing: “The fact at United I know the job is to win. Win well. And be much better.” Yes!


    I feel this season is like being put inside a fast spin in a washing machine. I’m fascinated, disturbed and unable to grab a compass point. We’ve stopped asking what would Fergie do but maybe we should remember what he did do. “I am a gambler - a risk taker - and you can see that in how we played in the late stages of matches.” If we go down fighting, all guns blazing, it’s better than limply conceding records to sides like Newcastle, and bigging them up before we face them. United should hope for the best but prepare for the worst in terms of being able to cope with a poor season, and out of the top four, but by going for it with a United attitude and stance will give him more time to get there. If we see real effort, we’ll all give it back.


    Thomas Carlyle once said. ‘No pressure, no diamonds.’ Let’s hope so. But let's be honest here, Moyes will not last by playing as cagey football and being as cautious with his attitude as time goes on, offering second rate football at the biggest, or so we always hope, club in the world. It’s been too long since we regularly watched good, attacking United football. We’ll give him the time needed, but he needs to come out fighting. So do the players. Be, and act United.


    From the Editorial of December’s RedNews208, published December 21st 2013.


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  10. #50
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    Reditorial on why supporting Manchester United is about so much more than the 90 minutes

    Red News is 27 years old on the 20th April 2014.


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    I’m that fed up with this season maybe now is the time to stop writing about it! For all our angst, it will play out this way or that. And whilst it's been that toilet we'd just like to flush it down the pan, and erase it from memory, such is what Gary Neville called United fans’ collective will to “dream” that, however absurd we know it to be, in those desperately few happy hours after the Olympiakos win, we could enjoy a rare few hours conjuring images of supping Superbock in Lisbon.
    Then we drew Bayern...


    The season has been woeful, as have the players for much of the time, and so part of you was searching out a claims form - injury to my senses - after the Liverpool game (the Scousers had nicked all the forms however) yet just 72 hours later, however poor the opposition, you were left to wonder where that type of performance had been all season. Yet we know that the doom that Sunday was far more indicative of the season itself, yet life is always better seeing our red glasses half full so we cling to the game where dreams hoped for better. Moyes has to deliver them, if not, his fate will be sealed, but for now, one solitary game appears a job saver and has put back his Doomsday Clock (see last ed). For now.


    As has been said, whatever his fate, we can look him in the eye even if some players can't, that at games our support has been solid, and much better. As good as it's been in years at home. Whilst online you get the impression that every single United fan is a moany mard arse their whole existence, we are dreamers and being a football supporter is much more fun if you embellish realism with hope, and actually do what it says on the tin; support. The atmosphere has improved, and so, perversely, we're enjoying our participation this season more than we usually do, when we sat on our arses moaning at success. Let's have some fun! So good or bad, and mainly bad, we have had fun.
    As we well know, the 90 minutes is just an iota of what supporting United is all about. It is the fixed location of our week and attention but however much of a hold United has over each and every one of us, the 11 men kicking a football is just one tiny aspect of this whole, for want of a better word, mad drug. And like with every drug, there are highs, come downs and over doses.


    Since last issue, Reds near and far travelled far and wide to pay their respects to RN founder Teresa McDonald as she was laid to rest. The connection was that 90 minutes, but the bond was infinitely more. Manchester, Cockney Reds, Greece, Norway and many other places in between were represented as a section of United's hard core match going crowd were represented; Tony O'Neill, Boylie, Tommy G, Phil Holt and Welsh Phil amongst many. As one Red quipped: “more than city get for an away game.”


    It was incredibly moving to see this United turn out for something as far removed as travelling to a game as you could get, wanting to pay their respects for someone they had shared many matchdays with. This diverse, eclectic mix a representation of the United crowd itself; a builder next to a banker, rampant right wingers next to looney lefties, the don’t knows in between; the multi coloured spectrum of Planet Red.


    Teresa was much more than just a Manchester United football fan, as we all are. We have our lives, our realities with which we use United to escape to and form, or just to enjoy our lives with United in our lives. There is no set formula, no actual ‘top red’ manual way to do it, do it how you want, how you please, so long really as it pleases you as supporting United is a force for good, should be good, enjoyed. It should not be the negative maelstrom of moaning mard arses that dominate the net so that you think some get no pleasure whatsoever from it.


    Teresa ran a jazz bookshop for some years, serving amongst others the poet Phil Larkin who once praised her for her ‘civilising influence’. The singer, and friend, George Melly described her as “short, intelligent and formidable”. She took photos of Louis Armstrong. She lived. And she lived a varied life but settled upon and knew that at United she was most comfortable, and had the most fun. She realised it can be a wonderful thing; just this. It is often now a derided term, ‘the United family’, it sounds like one of those horribly arsey branded statements the marketing men have bastardised, but the reality is that at United games there is still a United family. The link can be tenuous, just letting on, a nod at a game, or strong, so that a goon together at a game can develop into lifelong friendships. We are not all the same so it's pretty amazing that so many of us get on for starters, and of course you converge towards more like minded people, but if United's spectrum is rich, we are enriched by becoming good friends with people you may never have met, or entertained, were it not for United.


    Two lads who started to go to games with our wider circle, became friends, became RN sellers, were ushers at my wedding, and these two oddballs (Ste and John) will be friends for life because we stare at men in red shirts. We share beers, we share lives; Reds have babies, get married, and yes sadly as a consequence of the fucked up nature of life's cruel tricks, funerals. We take the rough with the smooth at the game, and so we have to when life gets dirty, and Reds will mourn with you, help you through the tough times. The messages of support and kindness from so many of you helps a great deal. Whilst it might not have felt it seeing us stuffed by Liverpool as it looked like a dreaded “shift in power”, even when crap, United is mint.


    United conjures up so much; we remember trips, goals, goons, moments and also mates no longer with us. When we look towards a forthcoming game, again the focus is of course on *it*, the day is much more, we can plan trips with mates, look forward to the pre or post match beer and know that when it comes you can hopefully pack up all your troubles and just get involved and play whatever part you can. Watch United, and dream.


    The modern United is seen as a curse, and whilst the owners, the prices, the hassles are fucking irritating/disgraceful, it is not a curse, and should hopefully be seen as what it is, a blessing; supporting United, and you need to be doing it right I suppose, is life fulfilling. It is unlike anything else bar a drug I suppose. And as far as I can tell, no drug comes close to this fucked up shit we go through each and every season! It is not a hobby but a way of life.


    Mum loved looking after her Utd family as she saw it, these mix of bricklayers, and office workers; male, female, young, old, part of the madness or just part of United, these people she drank, sang, and had a laugh and a life with, and they came to give their respect to someone who got it and lived Utd the right way; to just enjoy it. Fret over defeats, smile over wins. But enjoy the whole experience as much as the moment.


    The players will come and go, as too, though it seems hard to ever accept that with their millions squandered, will the owners (or as she said when wheelchair bound last year: “If I could get up and boot a Glazer up the arse I would:), indeed when one former manager questioned her attendance at a far flung friendly he was told “we will be here long after you've left”. The players, the here, the now, the noise, is a filter during happy times on pitch or off it, but we’ll always remain Reds, we’ll always still go, one way or another, however we see fit.


    With United we can all be kids at heart, we don’t have to lose that, of course treat United with the same scrutiny as the real world but don't necessarily succumb all the time to lifes negativity. On one online poll I saw, nearly a quarter voting said they’d take us losing to Olympiakos if it ‘rid’ the club of Moyes. I just don’t get anyone, ever, wanting their own team to lose. Our team.
    Somewhere along the way, they’ve lost the fun, the point, and their marbles? This is supposed to be fun; to angst, gnaw, as this is United, after all, but to do it with a smile, and a swagger.


    We're all a bit mad, have to be to be doing all this, to be this obsessed with what is just a game after all, and we nutters travel many miles to see blokes who sometimes don't want to wear this shirt, on obscene wages, and we go away, dissect what we’ve seen, have our beers and take something from it. You may go to the game on your own. But hopefully you will find out that there is a United family and when you are need, they will come good.


    Maybe for a while in the aftermath of 2005, with many good people gone to FC, we lost a bit of that United-ness, which is on its return as a new generation who get it start to appear on the scene, got back that bit of community, which if our own club will ignore and not encourage, we can, to help each other out, to just do the decent thing when the time comes. There will always be the few scumbags who want to be in it for themselves, to fuck Reds over, but most get it, what Utd is all about. What it’s really about. Why you’re a Red. Why we’re different.


    My own United journey started with Mum. We sat together in J, H Stand in the 80s with our LMTBs that then became the golden ticket of a Season ticket, her funding my habit when a kid. I saw her happy face against Barcelona in ‘84, and in ‘91 and in Barcelona itself in ’99. I saw her swoon at Eric, love Ronaldo, and get so excited when Stevie Coppell was on the wing. Yes we do like to dream at United and we demand a style of play not for the glory, welcome as it can be, but to get off our feet and feel the buzz, that United go about things differently. Why you know long after a game there will be pockets of Reds here or there enjoying each other's company and the bonhomie and enjoying the day, whatever the game has been like.


    One lad at the wake said how he’d been short of money on one trip, ‘here’s a few quid’ Teresa said, and he never forgot that. So he made the long five hour journey by bus, and five back to say how important one Red has been in his Utd life. That helping of fellow Reds out may be reciprocated back to you one day; sorting a spare, offering a lift. This Red journey is a hell of a lot better not just with company but if we share it. They might not share your politics, but they can share your life. Because it is, as it always has been, a buzz. Even during the shit times we have moments to take to the bank with.


    Utd is not the club who tell us what to do - usually aggressively, with a look down - it is everything. It is as much about the anticipation of the day itself and the day itself as the game. It is often joked that the game can get in the way of things.


    People would have you believe that there is a new representation of the very modern United family with the half and halfers and tourists and whilst there are too many interlopers, at its core, we still have a core. That’s United. That’s why whatever happens this season, for all us sadomasochists, we’ll be there again come August. At the game, or watching it. However you do it.
    When someone is told who we support, you know if it’s a Red or not who answers back, the froth from outsiders driven by an ABU inspired agenda, blinkered, but we know, we get it. We can tell, mainly, and whilst we have no right to ever say who should support Utd, you can begin to tell who supports Utd on your own wavelength.


    Someone reading this will have a family member they are taking to their first game with soon, or going with their Dad, or Mum or have a new born they hope to take one day. Whilst the changes to our culture have been at times as horrible as they are unfamiliar, deep down the circle remains unbroken and goes on, as long as we are allowed to, and can afford it. It is magical, it still has that feel what Busby said: “a sense of romance, wonder and mystery”.


    We go to United because of our own ‘X Factor’ and reasons. And I/we/you will continue to go United so long as we have our health and finances allow. Or if we don’t go, we will not end this support, or link. Success is enjoyable but it does not define our support. We will go when United are shit, or when they are good, though we will demand, angst and want the latter, we will not shirk the former. And we like doing it with like minded individuals, so next time United themselves try and steal the ‘United family’ as some marketing fluff, the real United core means as much now, and is still there, be it at games or watching them somewhere, as it ever did. To that United family, I salute you.


    It is, obviously, not more important than life or death. But it can be life fulfilling and become the most important part of our lives, and whilst football is its core, supporting United is so much more than cheering a bunch of egotistical prima donnas about led by coaches who say ‘try’ a lot. Or as Carlo Ancelotti put it: “Football is the most important thing amongst the least important things in life. And that’s the way it should be.”


    Or better still, “Manchester United stands for something more than any person, any player, any supporter. It is the ‘soul’ of a sporting organisation which goes on sea- son after season, making history all the time”. 28th August 1937, the United programme Editorial.


    Forever and Ever.


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