Archive | January, 2012

A Testing Time for Fergie

31 Jan

Over the years I’ve spent lots of  time analysing and thinking about Fergie’s remarks, decisions and actions. Many of the facts only become clear a long time after the incidents and he often misleads the media and fans his only real object is winning trophies and how he can best achieve this objective. He tries his utmost in the main to keep things in house and create a siege mentality.

I think at the moment he is faced with more problems than I can remember since he got United on the winning road in the 1990s and has been acting out of character in some ways. None of the incidences are remarkable in themselves but added together may suggest bigger problems.

Fergie has backed the Glazer family but it is pretty obvious now that he isn’t been given the funds he wants and needs to rebuild United in to one of the powerhouses of Europe but has kept tight-lipped unlike his previous rants at Edwards and the PLC. Since Ronaldo left we have gone from being one of the best teams in the world to struggling to qualify for the later stages of the Champions League and we haven’t seriously made an effort to get back to that position. I could have understood big buys going wrong but there does seem a lack of desire to be the best in the world again at the club. Our midfield hardly scares premier teams let alone the top teams in Europe.

His recent rant in the programme notes against Keane has been followed by a rant against Hansen. If I’m honest I and many reds I know have stated  similar views to the ex Liverpool defender. He has six journalists banned from Carrington also at the moment.

His handling of the Rooney Evans and Gibson over the Christmas period going very public in his criticism was unusual but not unprecedented.

Buying De Gea some have said against his scouts observations I’m not sure about that but bringing a youngster from a foreign country away from his family and friends and making him number one seemed very strange. He may go on to be the greatest ever but I think most observers thought it was a strange buy. The lad has had nothing but success and that is the way he has developed, it was obvious he was going to hit problems, everyone does and he has no experience of dealing with these situations. Ideally he could and should have been protected, put him as number 2 if Fergie really wanted to buy him and take the pressure off the lasd by bringing him in now and again. I like De Gea but I do think his development has not been thought out properly.

It has often been argued by some had Fergie managed Best would things have turned out differently. Fergie’s record handling young players is possibly his greatest asset and has won huge recognition. It has come as monumental shock to many of us that one of the best young players to come through the youth at United is being sold. Again I am absolutely certain Fergie has given him countless chances and has done everything he can to help him develop in to a man and make the most of his ability. However I confess I didn’t think I would see such a precocious youngster leave. Moreover while I’m sure Fergie was just trying to help  Ravel out but Fergie’s claims that the lad had turned a United contract down asking for too much money was found out to lies, Fergie did not come out of this looking very good. While another highly rated talent Pogba has been unwilling to sign a contract.

In past years I cannot remember too many problems coming to light about young players not wanting to sign contracts for United. Perhaps this is just another indicator of the changing nature of football and the power of young players. I remember thinking when Sturridge left City for Chelsea I would doubt that’s happen at United.

It could be and it wouldn’t surprise me in a few weeks Fergie’s genius has all but resolved many of the major concerns. And I don’t want to be ageist by saying that his age has anything to do with these events.

I hope Fergie stays as long as he wants I will never call for him to step down. And I know there are also fans who think questioning the maestro is not acceptable. I am not one of these I love to think and analyse.


Supporting United through the Lean Years Part 3

13 Jan

Supporting United through the lean Years Part 3

The 1970s were my favourite era, I think many fans enjoy most things more when they are new experiences, the highs the lows. Football isn’t about rationality just pure emotion. You wouldn’t keep paying money and wasting your own time for a product which doesn’t do what you want it to, but you do as a footy fan most of us will waste our time and money watching rubbish week after week.

Despite the 1970s being our least successful era. One FA Cup win, two FA Cup finals lost and two League Cup semi finals I loved watching the reds during this time. I have always preferred semi finals to finals. My first visit to Wembley in 76 was a major disappointment, not just the game but the stadium.

The standout highlights a 2-0 victory against Liverpool 1972 Davies and McDougall when I really didn’t think we stood a chance, I loved the FA Cup semi’s against Derby, Leeds and Liverpool and the League Cup games against Villa and Norwich. The Sunderland win at home 3-2 in the old 2nd division and the last game of the season the 4-0 victory against Blackpool. Home games and away games were fun and there was a camaraderie amongst the Red Army faithful. The first season back in the old top division was very exciting and we finished our highest position in the 1970s making a genuine challenge for much of the season, we finished 3rd. The football after that went downhill with injuries to Buchan and Macari the following season and teams working us out and the  entrance of Sexton.

The return of European football was brilliant who can forget the games and atmospheres against Juventus, Ajax and Porto.

For me I didn’t enjoy the 80s United as much as I did the 70s but that could be due to my age. Sexton took us to 2nd place in 1979/80 2 points behind Liverpool. We had become a much more cautious team and able to compete against teams physically. Had Sexton won us the title he may have gained legendary status however most United fans did not like his brand of football which was much more defensive than the United tradition. The following season Sexton was gone we finished 8th and despite winning the last 7 games on the bounce he was sacked.

Tommy Docherty had made scathing comments about David Sexton throughout his time at United and agreed with the sacking.

United’s first choice to replace Sexton was Bobby Robson but he turned us down whether he knew he was going to be given the England job in the near future is difficult to say. Surprisingly Clough was never really talked about despite once stating his outstanding desire to manage United. Big Ron was given the job. He had turned WBA in to one of the most talked about teams in the league and one of the most exciting and of course beating United 3-5 at OT was certainly a major plus point. I even know United fans who to this day say that is their favourite United game.

Big Ron was pretty well liked at OT, a return to the larger than life character such as the Doc and entertaining football.

He inherited a good team but like most managers he was given money to spend big money Robbo Mosses Stapleton Gidman Davenport Brazil Gibson Olsen et al. And we played some fantastic football none better than the season 1985/6 when we won the first 10 league games and many of us believed we had the title sown up. Heartbreaking to see that style, that form disappear and finish 4th 12 points from top spot.

His transfers tended to be hit and miss, the best of course being Robbo who never wanted to join United but Liverpool but they would not pay the transfer fee. Robbo became loved, adored, worshiped by the fans but he had set his desire to play abroad. A deal was virtually done to take him to Sampdoria in return we would get Liam Brady and Trevor Francis. Big Ron was never scared of making the big decisions however like those that had gone before him he lacked the winning mentality and experience of that to pass on to the team.

His sacking to many and certainly to himself was a shock. I remember my brother-in-law ringing me up and telling me Edwards had been going round chatting to people in the Executive seats asking them for their opinion on big Ron during one game.

Perhaps one of his biggest mistakes is he did not get on with Bobby Charlton, and he makes this clear in his autobiography. Whether it is true or not I cannot say but he believes Bobby tapped up Fergie and when Fergie agreed to eventually come Big Ron was shown the door.

Ron Atkinson apparently was the first non-Roman Catholic to manage United since 1932 Scott Duncan.

Tommy Docherty had made scathing comments about Big Ron throughout his time at United and agreed with the sacking.

Most on the board had wanted Terry Venables to replace Big Ron but Bobby Charlton’s determination got the board to support him and prompted Fergie to OT. Fergie had apparently come very close to joining both Arsenal and Spurs previously but the rumour is his wife did not want to move to London.

Fergie started well enough but made it clear that he didn’t think the side was good enough and wanted to instil more discipline and stop the drinking culture at OT. Fergie’s management style and success as we now know is built on power and control and he had to fight hard to achieve that. He didn’t know enough about the English game and players. He was offered John Barnes and asked his scouting team what they thought he was very disappointed to get back a not sure. He changed  the club from top to bottom bringing in Brian Kidd was very important in developing the youth development side.  However Fergie did keep Eric Harrison who had been brought in by Big Ron. However big Ron had let the United youth development side slip down the rankings of importance.

The major culprits behind the drinking culture were Robbo Whiteside and McGrath. All three were loved by the fans but after numerous failed attempts Fergie sold McGrath and Whiteside both also had major injury problems but amazingly McGrath went on to play some brilliant football for Villa and the Republic of Ireland for a while afterwards.

Towards the end of the 80s I think it fair to say most United fans would have not been upset to see him go. Looking at the brand of football he has become famous for it will surprise many our football wasn’t pleasing to the eye and results were disappointing 1988/89 we finished 11th.

United during the 1980s had finished 2nd twice in the league and won the FA Cup in 1983 and 85. I genuinely think at this point United could have become a club along the lines of Spurs had success not been just around the corner. The excitement and buzz that I had known since my first time going to OT had always been there but things were different, fans were very quick to mock and criticise and get on the backs of players. Even if we weren’t wining trophies there had always previously been a belief that they would enjoy the game and the good times were round the corner……how wrong we were

My highlights of the 80s were the brilliant start to the season under Atkinson when the football was as good as any of Fergie’s great teams 10 league wins on the bounce in 1985 and of course the game against Barca we won 3-0 in the Cup Winners Cup in 1984 and Whiteside’s winner for 10 men United in the FA Cup final against Everton the best team in the country.

In those days it cannot be stressed how important the FA Cup was, some people thought it was more important than the title, the excitement and dream of getting to watch your team play at Wembley was monumental. Moreover in the modern game the only European trophy which matters in the Champions League but the UEFA Cup and Cup Winners Cup were fantastic competitions which motivated fans and players alike. Today in truth most fans would probably point to the title and Champions League as the only titles really worth having in the cabinet. European games in those days were all knockout home and away ties and you could be drawn against any team, there was no seeding
Tommy Docherty had made scathing comments about Fergie throughout his time at United and was calling out for him to be sacked.

Next on supporting United through the lean years the 1990s perhaps not so lean

Supporting United through the lean Years Part 1

Supporting United through the lean Years Part 2

Is this the start or the end of Ravel Morrison’s Career?

12 Jan

Most people will know that I rate Ravel as the best youth player I’ve ever seen. And unlike many people I have a great deal of empathy for the lad.

I believe I read it in Robbie Fowler’s autobiography – the Liverpool then manager Roy Evans saying he didn’t think Stan Collymore under achieved as a player but over achieved. He went on to explain that usually players of his mentality and temperament never made it as professionals at least in the top divisions they were weeded out at youth level.

I fear for Ravel I really do, at the moment he thinks he has all the time in the world and knows he has the ability which means he can get away with things most of never can. However sooner rather than later it will hit him he no longer has the world at his feet and understand what he has blown.

I would not be surprised if in a few years Ravel Morrison is no longer a professional footballer. To move up the ladder no matter how much ability you have there is a point where ability has to be matched with dedication and effort and if it isn’t those with far less ability but the right attitude will storm past.

I have far more empathy than most for Ravel, we do not create our minds, he did not choose his DNA where he grew up, his parents. The vast majority of his life experiences which determined his thinking were before he understood anything about what was going on. Subsequently his opinions and thoughts are a function of what was created without him consciously making a decision. And therefore his thought processes and actions are based on those factors. While we take an external view of events and see what he may miss out on a great career with United. He makes his decisions what he feels internally.

Hopefully he will have a happy life but possibly having to deal with the fact he had so much talent and end up in a mundane job on an average wage being an average Joe for many must be hard to take.

Fergie has stated they have received an offer from Newcastle but turned it down he has claimed Ravel’s contract demands are over the top. However as far as I’m aware Ravel hasn’t been offered a new contract at least the first time we have heard the claim is in the last week and suddenly he is on the transfer list. We know for certain Pogba has been offered a contract and has turned it down and negotiations have been going on probably over 6 months. I would guess Fergie is using this as a means to keep the truth in-house. However while I’m unsure what the full truth is I was pleased to see Ravel come out and state categorically he had never taken Rio’s watch. And those that make these lies up should be dealt with.

My previous article on Ravel

Thatcher the Iron Lady

6 Jan

Thatcher came to power at a time the old systems and structures were failing and political leadership had failed numerous times to resolve the problems. Previously full employment had been the objective of all the governments since the war with Attlee and the 1945 Labour party creating the stage. Keynesian Economic policies were used to boost the economy in times of low growth. Jobs were created via the public sector and when the economy was doing well taxation would be used to pay back the debt of borrowing money to bolster the economy.  Although that was the theory money wasn’t always used to cut the debt, and furthermore there was a pay off with inflation. With more money in the economy and fewer goods the price of the goods would rise.

However during the 50s and 60s economic growth was acceptable, most people tended to be better off each year and virtual full employment was achieved. However when comparing economic worldwide the results are not as impressive. The Right wing of the Conservative Party believed that a market with less government interference – Neo Liberalism would achieve full employment and higher growth. However change is very difficult during the relative good times and the Right were isolated even in the Conservative Party with most accepting Keynesian Economics and consensus politics.

During the 1970s the economy hit major problems manufacturing had become much more efficient and the labour required to do the work had been drastically reduced by more efficient machines. This had resulted in unemployment increasing year after year and unemployment had reached the magical one million. Moreover the increased money in to the economy had fuelled inflation which peaked at 25 percent in 1975. Unions obviously wanted to keep the standard of living of their members up and governments and industries were unwilling to pay the increases asked for. Britain had numerous strikes the dead were left unburied, rubbish piled several feet high in the streets, cars were not made and public transport were not available to take people to and from work.

Politically both Labour and Conservatives were given a go at resolving the problems but both struggled.  Moreover Labour had to make a pact with the Liberals to keep them in power as the majority on their own was none existent. This enabled the Right to claim to have the answers Thatcher came to power in 1979.

Thatcher and the Right had no interest in full employment and wanted to break the unions.  Politically Thatcher was a brilliant politician,  anyone who has watched “Yes Minister” will have an idea of the difficulties of getting change through the civil service let alone her own party and parliament.

The reason why Thatcher is hated by many is that she was willing to make the changes she believed were required by writing off a section of the population and these people were the least powerful in society. Despite manipulating the figures over 20 times Unemployment still rose over 3 million and  her government used every means possible to try to blame those unemployed for the problems they were in. Homelessness and break up of families, communities were seen as acceptable. Of course a section of the working class under Thatcher did very well by being given the opportunity to buy their council house.

The Global economy had started to kick in and the Tories had gone for a low skill low wage economic comparative advantage and our manufacturing industries had been replaced by Call Centres and service industries.

This legacy was continued in essence by Major and to a lesser degree Blair and Brown. However the problems of the banking and financial collapse can be traced back to neo liberalism and the belief that the economy works best left to its own devices rather than government legislating such institutions.

I know people who committed suicide because they could not find a job and could not see a future. Mental illnesses increased dramatically under Thatcher as did crime as people thought it was their only option in the state of greed and self interest that Thatcherism embedded