16th January 2010, Burnley at Old Trafford, Full time whistle just blown by the ref, United had won but for once that wasn’t the most important thing that happened that day. The chants of "We Want Glazer Out" and "LOVE UNITED - HATE GLAZER" unravelled from tier 2 of the Stretford end and fake money thrown like ticker tape in the air. The battle to rid united of the Glazers after 5 years had finally erupted inside of old Trafford. The Green and Gold campaign was about to begin.
It was a fantastic time to be a match going red, or green and gold in this case. For the 1st time in years I felt like I was contributing something to united, I felt connected with every supporter that wore the green and gold, we were at last a "united" bunch all with 1 aim, all because we wore a green and gold scarf and hated the owners of our football club.
How did it all come about and start I’m not to sure, I remember emails from MUST saying protests were planned, I didn’t hold much hope truth be told, 5 years previous I had been involved in the march on the megastore before the arsenal game and that came to nothing, same with a few more after. There were too few fans involved in these to cause any major ripples, the majority of fans had taken the stance of giving the glazers a chance and then the rest left united altogether to form FCUM. More on that later.
This time the fight was launched at perfect timing, the best player on the planet had left our club after we got promised he wouldn’t and not replaced with anyone of a similar standard, our biggest signing was an injury prone striker on a free transfer yet ticket prices were rising, the football we were playing wasn’t the best at the time and finally some of the glazers account figures had been released that showed us supporters were being taken for a ride of by the leprechaun and his offspring.
How could you show you weren’t happy about this without having to smash things up, shoot the glazers or do anything that could end you up in prison? Simple wear a green and gold scarf that represented the soul of MUFC and how we started. Whoever came up with this idea is a genius just a shame it couldn’t have been thought up 5 years earlier!
The G&C campaign was never thought up as the main aim to rid us of them, I mean no one is scared of a scarf are they? The aim was to raise awareness to supports about what the glazers were up to. This worked perfectly. Fans that didn’t trouble themselves with the thought of our finances had no choice but to look now as the green and gold was in everyone’s faces.
“A minority of supporters” as Gill/Ferguson put it were certainly anything but.
I among with thousands were on the crest of a wave, looking forward eagerly to each game to see what the latest protest was going to be and how united handled it. The stewards and security were very heavy handed against us, clearly they were told anything anti glazer was to be confiscated or not let in the ground. As time went by they became powerless and they started to leave us alone in the Stretford end game by game the sea of green and gold grew, the media caught hold of it and everyone seemed to think we were about to rid ourselves of them, then the night of the Milan game our Beckham returned picked up a G&G scarf and applauded us in the Stretford end. That was probably the peak of the campaign. And unfortunately the end of it too.
Fast forward 1 year on and where do we stand with regards to ridding ourselves of these leeches? Well the green and gold campaign I think its fair to say fizzled out since the new season started, those that do wear the scarves seem to have the new strip underneath which completely contradicts the meaning of the green and gold. They are still giving money to glazer.
There were the few that handed back their season tickets in protest and the hope that the Red Knights would’ve taken over during the summer (this is the category I fall into) Unfortunately they went about it the wrong way, publicly antagonising the glazers and trying to make them force a sale. Glazers had none of it so those protesters are no longer there and have probably been replaced by fans quite happy to give their hard earned money to the glazers.
I cant help but feel that the supporters down at FC united were a bit too quick to leave Old Trafford and form a new team, imagine what it would have been like if they stayed from day 1 and protested with the rest of us. Taking nothing away from FC United here what they have done and achieved has been amazing and I wish them and the supporters all the luck in the world.
We are constantly getting linked to a Qatari takeover or some other oil rich Arab, these rumours are fuelled with the fact almost every week people from our club are out in the middle east promoting "the franchise" of MUFC. Sickening.
Lets say we did get this kind of takeover and the debt was wiped away the club would still be in the hands of people who wont understand football are more importantly Manchester united and its history. Then what happens when these Middle East people get bored and decide enough is enough? I think it’s safe to assume that will happen after the world cup in Qatar has been played as that’s the only reason these Arabs are showing interest in football clubs in my opinion. The amount of time we are spending over there suggests to me something is happening behind the scenes.
Something similar is happening down at Chelsea, rumours are Abramovich is set to sell up in the summer, that will leave a squad of players that are among the highest paid not only in the country but the world meaning a new owner has to come in and pay these staggering salaries. If an owner can’t be found that can pay all this then administration will happen and the club will “do a Leeds”
It’s a shame to see how football has gone, what used to be a working class game is now turning into a hobby for those that are super rich, walk through Old Trafford’s car park on a match day and you will see Audis, Porches, Bentleys etc and these are supporters cars not the players! Slowly but surely we are getting priced out of football, things are only going to get worse before they get better.
So the G&G is it dead? I wouldn’t go as far to say that but it’s nowhere near the dizzy heights it reached a year ago.
Most games now go on general sale (except for the big games) something unthinkable a few years ago, majority of games arent sell outs either which is good as this will hit the glazers in the pocket.
Something needs to happen to kick start the whole campaign, I thought it may have happened when Rooney cited the lack of investment in the team as to the reason he put a transfer request in but he soon changed his tune on that.
MUST seem to have lost their way a bit in organising things, an email now and again telling us all not to give up is the most ive been made aware of this season.
With the old guard possibly about to retire in the summer and the need for major investment in our squad the time is about to come for the Glazers to sink or swim. Is the Ronaldo money still there? (of course it isnt) can Fergie find "value in the transfer market" (Ozil, Van Der Vaart not good value?)
Of course if we win the league this season and manage it unbeaten they can hide behind that, saying our squad is good ennough when we all know that it really isnt. Remember the days when we would strength a squad after winning things? Bringing in Van Nistelrooy & Veron days after winning the league. Those players bought with money generated from our fan base, pumped back into the team, investments for the long term success of man united, now that money goes straight into pockets of Americans ready to buy their latest apartments over the pond.
Our club, one of the richest clubs, if not the richest, turned literally overnight into one with the largest debts ever seen in world football, by men who didnt have a clue about united, didnt care about our fans, just using our hard earned money to line their pockets. They make money off what they call a "brand" , this "brand" that Sir Matt Busby built, what Alex fergson continues to make an on field success. They are leeches that are bleeding us dry while some fans sit back and continue feeding them with their money, literally daylight robbery!
My advice? Keep hold of your green and gold and those that are still match going reds carry on read that last paragraph in bold above.
If that doesnt make your blood boil and think its about time they went then you shouldnt be a manchester united supporter.
We Will Never Die!
A high temperature, throat feeling like I’ve swallowed razor blades and the incredible power to close my eyes for a second and wake up hours later, welcome to (suspected) glandular fever!
So I awoke from one of my many viral induced sleeps to find out that Arsene Wenger had been awarded an official FIFA award for "Manager of the Decade" now I thought this is clearly a crazy dream that’s come from having a high temperature, a glass of cold water, more sleep and ill awake to find that this award has been won by our own Alex Ferguson or possibly "the special one" both of which would make very worthy winners having achieved so much during the last 10 years.
As we all know by now it was no dream and the award was in fact given to Arsene Wenger. Now this blog is no slight on the Frenchman at all, I’ve got a lot of respect for him, he’s worked wonders at Arsenal and introduced many new methods to the English game when he came over from Japan in 1996, but to say he’s been the best manager for the last 10 years is so disrespectful for the likes of Ferguson and Mourinho.
Wenger is viewed as a professor of football, a man who likes his teams to play football the way it’s meant to be played, neat passing on the deck, and total football like the old Dutch teams. No one can argue the arsenal teams of the past 10 years have done this, at times in my opinion they do get a little bit more credit off the media than they deserve for doing this, do they play it THAT much better than us? at times yes at times certainly not.
So Wengers achieved this, a very attractive team to watch, but then the proof of the pudding with managers and football teams is not how they play but what they win, and over the last 10 years Wenger falls short drastically.
Arsenal up until now have not won a major trophy since 2004/05 season (FA cup) the previous season they won the league title going a whole 38 games unbeaten, a terrific feat, but one that could possibly be equalled by us this season. This shows Wengers team have gone the past 5 years (half a decade) without winning a single trophy.
Wenger guided them to the European cup final in 2005/06 but lost against Barca in the final, he has never won the European cup, not in the last 10 years, not in the last 20, never! I remember vividly before our success in 99, media and pundits alike said Fergie would never be considered a true great manager unless he won the European cup, does this rule not apply for Wenger?
So over the past 10 years Wenger has won the premiership on 2 occasions, neither of these were back to back titles, a feat that again according to the media and pundits is a sign of a true world class manager, a feat both Ferguson and Mourinho have accomplished over the past decade (Ferguson was 1 point away from making it 4 titles in a row this past decade)
Finally people may point to Arsene Wenger skills in the transfer market, before this award I’ve always considered this a total myth from the Wenger era.
Wenger inherited a fantastic side when he took over at arsenal, without doubt the finest back (5 with seaman in goal) in the world at that point in time that just needed a bit of guidance to get the best out of that Wenger to his credit did, the talisman of that team was Dennis Bergkamp, a player that wasn’t a Wenger signing. His signings were classed as amazing finds, for instance Patrick Viera, I’m sorry but I wouldn’t class a player that was signed from ac Milan one of the most famous clubs in the world as an amazing find.
Of course you cant deny he’s made some fantastic signings, (turning Henry from a winger into one of the best strikers around) nurturing Cesc Fabregas through (again he was from Barcelona so hardly a player difficult to find) but for every great signing I could easily list 2 or 3 bad ones, Francis Jeffers, Richard Wright, Stepanovs.
Maybe I'm being a little harsh on Wenger there as every manager will make bad signings, its inevitable, we’ve had them during the Ferguson era, Chelsea had them during Mourinho, its part of the game, but I think again the media have over-hyped Wenger and built him up as some kind of master transfer dealer who doesn’t spend big on players.
Take a look at our net spend on players since 2005 when the glazers took over and you will see exactly just how well Ferguson has done in not only keeping united afloat under the largest amount of debt than any club but winning, premier league titles, league cups, European cups, world club championships. For me that puts Ferguson as the best manager not only of the last decade but of all time.
Well after last nights round of premiership games it has to be said that the table is looking mighty fine if you’re a red. I don’t think any fan could have wished for a better set of results last night in what’s turning out to be a crazy season.
With all that in mind its a bit of a shame that its FA cup time this coming weekend, we really could have done with a league match to really stamp our dominance and take advantage of everyone slip ups and pull further away.
The FA cup for me has always been special, I'm from the generation that grew up dreaming of scoring the winning goal at Wembley in the cup final, going around Manchester on the open top bus celebrating with the cup, has to be said these days youngsters imagine playing in the European cup final against the likes of Barca and Real Madrid, in a way it shows how much English football has come on since the 80's and 90's were you just wouldn’t allow yourself to dream of reaching a European cup final.
It wasn’t always like that for me however, FA Cup final day used to be a day I dreaded, growing up like most boys my age we all loved he-man, I had the run of the house at weekends, playing with my he-man toys and watching the videos on repeat constantly, except for 1 day of the year when I was forced to sit down and be quiet and watch football on TV by my grandfather, in fact the whole family used to watch football on what they called "FA Cup Final day" I didn’t care 2 hoots about it, I wanted to play he-man and made sure everyone knew this, then id get shouted at by granddad, he tried his very best to get me into football and especially his team Liverpool, I was having none of it. Then 1 cup final day something changed, my mum and grandmother thought it would be funny if I wound him up a bit, so my mother presented me with a red, white and black scarf and told me to go sing "glory glory man utd" to him, I did it and his reaction was priceless so I carried on and on. I took the scarf into school on the Monday to tell everyone what I had done that weekend, something every child had to do. The teacher then went on to give us a whole lesson talking about man utd and a player called George Best, I went home and told my mum who then told me more stories about George Best and a few more players. From that very moment I became hooked on Manchester United.
So all the above was back in the late 80's things have changed since then, especially the FA Cup. Has it lost its magic? in some ways yes, of course united have got the blame for that back in 2000 when we were literally black mailed by the FA and government to pull out an go to that mickey mouse cup in brazil. I put the blame firmly on the FA'S feet and all the money men they choose to whore themselves to, they’ve messed kick off times about to suit TV to make more money, changed the semis to be played at Wembley to make more money (went down to our last semi there and it just didn’t feel right!) and ticket prices for some cup games are disgraceful so the regular working class football fan like you and I simply choose to watch it on TV instead of digging deep into our pockets (especially after Christmas), Unless you’re a united fan of course when you’re forced to pay for a ticket even if you don’t want to go (Thank you Malcolm Glazer)
So we start our hopeful march to Wembley with a home tie against our fiercest rivals, Liverpool and the teams couldn’t be in anymore contrasting form.
Will Woy be in charge of Liverpool on Sunday? rumours today are that he will be stepping down at 5pm due to personal reasons, his reign has been nothing short of disastrous since he took charge which surprised me as I really thought he would do a good job there. Its quite alarming really when you see how far they have fallen behind, I will NEVER forget the 08/09 season when they hammered us all over the place, Torres making Vidic look like he was running in quick sand, Gerrard kissing the camera, the feeling I had coming out of the Stretford end after that game was arguably the worst I’ve ever felt coming out of old Trafford, I don't think me and my mate rob spoke to each other all the way home. I thought at the time the title was theirs, beaten home and away by them, but then Rafa lost it, kiko scored that blinder against villa and the record equalling title was ours and it tasted as sweet as ever. Luckily for us they are a shadow of that team now.
We go into the game unbeaten in the league and full of confidence and are rightly so firm favourites to win this cup tie. Having said all that history and pardon the cliché but form goes out of the window when you play your rivals, especially so when its a 1 off cup game, I've seen some comments from their supporters saying they have nothing to lose, personally I think the FA cup and a good cup run is their only hope of getting anything slightly positive out of this season for them, I cant see them going much further in the europa league.
Anyway let’s take a look a closer look at us now; I've seen comments from SAF that he’s going to put out the strongest team possible so expect a few reserves in there knowing Fergie! hopefully he will stick to his words as we don’t want a repeat of last years farcical exit to Leeds. Signs look good though, both Anderson and Carrick were rested midweek and arguably they are our 1st choice partnership at the minute, I think its vital Anderson plays, we will need his energy and turn of pace in the middle of the park. He’s been a revelation since his comeback and is finally starting to look the part. His past encounters with Gerrard when he’s nullified him out of the match can’t be forgotten either.
I think the back 5 picks itself hopefully VDS will be fit, although kuszack has never really let us down id feel a lot more confident with Edwin between the sticks.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gary Neville get a run out either at some point, in all probability this will be his last home game against the team he loves to hate, having said that Fergie wouldn’t pick him just on that basis and his past few performances haven’t really inspired confidence.
Then we go to upfront, with Rooney most likely out injured the goal scoring responsibility will fall on either (or both) Berba or Chicarito. The little Mexican is a cult hero already at united, scoring some sublime goals and really settling into our style of play, my only negative is seeing him kissing the badge, too soon for all that and the way Rooney kissed it then put in a transfer request just makes me cringe when the whole kissing badge celebrations come out. Leave that to the likes of Giggsy, Scholes and Neville.
Then we have the great opinion splitting Dimitar Berbatov, you either love him or hate him! my opinion? I think he’s a genius and one of the few players we have in our squad that can change a game with a moment of brilliance (look at the last Liverpool game as an example) sure I’ve berated him at times, then again I’ve done the same to Cantona, Schmeichel, Keano, Ronaldo, no player is perfect plus I think he’s a very good foil to Chicarito so if I see both of them lining up come Sunday afternoon ill be happy but we will probably go for our European formation with 1 upfront, then again we are playing a lower table team so who knows ;)