The Whole Manchester United Thing

Tuesday 29th April

Last week’s news was dominated by the shenanigans at Manchester United, even though events in Ukraine may still have far more long-term significance.  It seems that the media cannot get enough of Man. U., and we like dutiful children lap it all up.  Football had moved from the arena of just a sport into celebrity, and now it is the managers who are feted (or abused) as much as the players.  And Manchester United has been exalted above all the rest; it is almost as if we all think that we rather than the Glazer family actually own it.

There was the awful plane crash in 1959, was it, when a generation of young players was lost.  Then the ‘Busby babes’, Denis Law, Georgie Best and more recently Beckham, Cantona and Fergie himself.  The manager of managers who insisted that nobody was bigger than the club itself, except maybe Sir Alex himself that is.  And they kept winning, despite flourishes from Arsenal, Chelsea and Man. City, united were always there, at the top or very close.

Last year Sir Alex at 71 retired, and it was a national occasion, a celebration of the man, the team, the national game in a genuine outpouring of affection.  His chosen successor was David Moyes, a fellow Scot who had been at Everton for years.  At the time I was skeptical; the man had never won a thing and Everton were a competent but distinctly run of the mill side.  What could Moyes bring to the party?

As it transpired of course, very little.  And now he has gone.  It was partly results, but I suspect it was really the players, who just couldn’t accept this newcomer, this interloper, this new man telling them how to play football.   Maybe led by Rooney, who knows, but this weekend after Moyes had been sacked they looked a different team.  Maybe Ryan Giggs just told them to play however they liked.  Maybe it had all been planned, maybe they needed this poor year to begin to refocus.

And of course now the speculation of who will be the new manager.  There are even suggestions that Ryan will hang onto the job, at least as nominal head coach, while others do the transfers and decide who plays where.  Whatever happens we are sure to be on the edge of our seats watching the whole Manchester Untied thing as it moves onto another year.