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  • Didsbury63
    replied
    Amazing post. Goosebumps every time I even think about that night.
    You sum it up so well. Thanks for the link to the Rob Smyth article - it's brilliant.
    I ended up driving from Toulouse and crashed on the floor of a hotel in Calella with Barry the Crazy Dane, Steve Fish (from CP Cheah's very early internet email list for ex-pats to get United news - I'm talking slow dial up - AOL and Yahoo - Goggle wasn't born for another 6 years) and a couple of other guys, who like me had flown in from California. We'd all grown up in Manchester and been Reds for about 30 years. We had the club seared into our hearts during relegation years of early 70s. Barcelona was our fantasy. No matter what life ever throws at me - I'll always have that night and it will always bring a massive grin to my face when I need it to.

    Leave a comment:


  • Red News
    replied
    May 26th 1999. Twenty years on. By the RedNews Editor


    It all comes down to emotion.


    There will be others who more forensically analyse the Treble win - and there is no better place to start than the excellent https://www.eurosport.co.uk/football...33/story.shtml - but I want to trade in what we are all here for, what we were all in Barcelona for; the hope, feeling and emotion of it all.


    That isn't to say even now I can either explain or fathom it.


    We could sit here all day, all of us lucky enough to be there, bear witness to it and try to figure it out. We might share another hug, a smile, a shrug, but explain it, no.


    It was just meant to be, surely?


    Now anyone who has been lucky enough to have had a kid then or now would be morally challenged to say that events of the 26th May 1999 were the greatest of their lives, so can I allow myself a simple tributary; it was the greatest night of my life.


    I knew then and I know now. I will never have another like it.


    I knew it then as I left, as I write now. Nothing United wise would come close, or has. It was a high you'd always want to chase but come up short. I've loved Moscow, and completing the set via Japan or Stockholm, but those lucky Reds in their 30/40/50s, saw it all. Lived it all. We can demand, but we got our fill.


    We're lucky. Most other football fans chase any high, and we had the ultimate. Football rivalry of course is such so you try and compare the feats before or those that come next, and I'll admit a jealous pang to that Aguero goal in 2012 and Arsenal at Anfield in the 1980s because even with all we did, we never quite won a title that way, but, and there is always a but, no elite triumph will ever or has even been achieved like this night.


    Not in 3 minutes.


    30 maybe. But 3?


    It's unique.


    Shove any other success up your arse if they try and compare it.


    Only Fergie could have managed such a feat.


    For the hours, days and weeks after, I'd create a fear, did that really happen?


    And not just the Treble itself, but the magnitude of that final victory.


    I'd worry it could be undone.


    -


    What was it like?


    I, still, can't really sum it up.


    I could try, and we all have, but you could list 40 superlatives and still shrug your shoulders knowing none of them do it justice. It is the stuff of legend and make believe.


    How did we do it?


    We just did.


    In a way, the finale of those moments is actually entirely plausible after all that team had gone through and overcome that season, but listen to the commentary, ITV or BBC radio, watch the highlights (and let's be honest, you never watch anything but those last moments, the game itself was pretty rubbish), and you are listening to an event that transcends normality.


    I still get either or both of goosebumps or a smile seeing it unfold. For years after like an addict I just wanted a sniff of that we'd experienced. One more time.


    I've watched the goal 1000 times and still can never tire. How could you?


    We all have our stories around the game. Ours was a trip via Magaluf. Of a mate who was sick in a hotel sink the night before the finals in Rotterdam and Barcelona and rather than being appalled seeing it as an omen (not nerves I hasten to add, just the evils of shots).


    But everything was and is about the game. All that mattered for these games is the Final itself.


    The equaliser was immense. It was a delirium of fuck you, Utd are back in this, come on. Hugs, grabs, fall a row or two, grab onto the person next to you. Hold your head, we're right back in this. Even though I'd said moments before the way this season has gone, come on, I didn't think we really would... but now, come on extra time we can do this...


    the winner itself... now that was primal. I bet now those there can picture it. But explain it? It's out of body. It's almost beyond ecstasy as well as explanation. Who knows what today's era would have treated it via, a film it, youtube it culture, but this was one end exploding, together. It was the biggest Utd travelling support celebrating as one fucking mass.


    We did it all together.


    The joy is even now we can't describe it. That was the point.


    How can you fucking explain that.


    It was such a life affirming high I've been chasing it ever since.


    It was bouncing. It was flares to the side and below.


    It was, just was.


    Everything you start a football journey for. This is it. This was it. Football heaven.


    There is only one blot for me. We thought it might be the start of something. But I realise now, for my lot at least, it was the endings of something.


    Some gave up, saying they'd seen it all. So many of my group no longer go as they once did or worse still are no longer with us. Of those closest to me; Rob and Mum, I'd give so much to rejoice in what we'd gone through all our Utd lives to share such an experience just one second more. But they are gone. That makes sadness seeing the pictures of that day now.


    But sharing something so special mattered. I got to experience that with them, that night. We knew it.


    Thank you.


    I'm not a religious person but in my eulogy to Mum at her funeral I described her own heaven; listening to jazz, cats around her, glass of wine.


    I'll add to that. I hope she, Rob, so many other Reds like Jimmy, Coco, all the others there in 1999 no longer with us have some fucking big party today buzzing their tits off. Top of the fucking world.


    We all got that together that night.


    That night itself we ended up in Velvet Bar in Barcelona not wanting the night to end.


    That's how I'd be for the days and weeks after. I never wanted it to end. Same, really. Such was the mark it left.


    Not just a moment but the moment in our footballing lives.


    Fergie couldn't have said 'Life, bloody hell', but he may as well have done. 'Football, bloody hell' was good enough though. It is the greatest escapism and when it is great it feels like life itself. I often quote Carlo Ancelotti: "Football is the most important thing amongst the least important things in life. And that’s the way it should be."


    It's the way it is Carlo. We don't do it for the glory, but if you're lucky enough to do it whatever happens, then sometimes the glory can land in your lap/


    1999 wasn't why we do all we do as Utd fans. But it was the pay off, the reward, for all this madness.


    And it was done in such a mad, perverse, only way that Utd could under Alex Ferguson that it'll never be matched or beaten, like that side itself.


    It was the night we reached the Promised Land.

    Leave a comment:


  • Red News
    replied
    The Red News Exclusive Interview with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from RedNews242, for our 30th anniversary


    New Red News 258 now out. Single print copies at https://rednews.bigcartel.com/produc...s-2018-fanzine
    Kindle Edition https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/...SIN=B07L6VH4RG
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    February, 2017.
    Ole. 366 games, 150 as a sub. 29 goals scored as a sub, 97 goals from starting.
    126 goals in total. Lovely.


    RN: So how are you then?
    Ole: Good, good, preparing and looking forward for a new season (at Molde). It’s completely different because obviously the facilities here, you never know, for example today the under pitch heating didn’t work so it was broke and it was minus -2 so instead of being able to train outside we had to go into a 60 x 40 indoor hall so you’ve got to work day to day really. And it’s a long, long pre-season, friendlies in February and March and then we start the league on 1st April so I was used to it as a player, I remember thinking because it was really hard period of pre-season so we train maybe too long, too hard, loads of running, compared to now where we focus more on high intensity, shorter distances, so how to adapt. English pre-season sometimes the difference maybe 6-8 weeks, maximum 9, while here we have got pre-season for 12 weeks. And that’s probably the shortest one because we started a week or 10 days later than anyone else in Norway.


    RN: And how does it feel going back? Did it feel right?
    Ole: Yeah it does, it’s great just working with players day in, day out, players who want to improve, to develop, players here are dreaming to play abroad, play in England, Germany, so you’ve got 100% attitude every single day, so too many players, say in the Championship then, they’ve got enough money, they are comfortable where they are and it’s not about stepping out of the comfort zone it’s just ticking over.


    RN: Sir Alex often said that you were observing the game on the bench, is that true, were you taking it all in?
    Ole: Yeah, I think so. Because first of all I was privileged to be involved in what I was involved in so I felt no, there was not many times I sat on the bench thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore’. I was there and I was always ready to get on and most of the times I would get on because if we were losing the Gaffer would change because he knew the affect I might have just both on supporters, our own team and the opposition team because we built like an image, like a myth that when he came on he scored goals! Then again if we were winning 2-0, he just gave me 20-30 minutes at the end or at half-time because he wanted to keep us all happy so a 1-0 win was probably the worst result! He wouldn’t put me on! Laughs.


    RN: So were you observing the tactical side or positioning, what was it?
    Ole: I was just mentally preparing for the game. It’s a bit of a myth that I was analysing the lot but I did come on and of course I watched the game so I did see which one of the full-backs was slow or which one of the centre-backs I could beat in the air, really important things, you can find spaces, find weaknesses so in a sense it’s true and in another it’s a bit more exaggerated if you know what I mean. That’s the way I am. I can spot the players quite quickly.
    RN: So you’re sussing that now as a manager? And passing that advice on to the players?
    Ole: Yeah of course. It’s one of those things that I’ve always got with me that I can use to my substitutes, that you might be able to change the game, you’ve got to do this, that or the other, you’ve got to not sulk. No point sulking to me because I know what it’s like, I never sulked. There’s absolutely no point in feeling sorry for yourself because it won’t help you.


    RN: Did it piss you off the ‘supersub’ tag because you started a fair few too banging them in?
    Ole: To be fair it didn’t piss me off but obviously I realise after a while or towards the end of my career that I was the perfect sub for the Gaffer because he knew I was never pissed off or I would never sulk so when I came on it would have an affect on the game. He knew he could trust me as a squad player because I just did my best no matter what. Of course I enjoyed starting games but coming on and doing so well as a sub so many times, changed quite a few games, but it made my name and I’ll be remembered as a good sub.


    RN: More than that!
    Ole: But it doesn’t matter because at least you made a name for yourself. When I grew up there was only one or two subs back then, I remember David Fairclough came on for Liverpool quite often, I was happy doing the job that the Gaffer demanded and required from me.


    RN: There was one thing I have never seen you asked, Teddy and Andy Cole didn’t get on, so how was that for you as one of the players who was sometimes playing with both or alternating, was it uncomfortable?
    Ole: None whatsoever because what we did in our spare time and leisure time didn’t really matter and there was only in one argument, in one game and after that they still played as well as possible together, they never ever had a ‘no, I’m not going to pass to him’, absolutely no chance and the Gaffer sussed that out quickly, that he could trust them, they are top professionals - you don’t have to get on, you don’t have to go and have dinner with each other but when you play you play as well as you can play as a player and it never frustrated me, no. Never, ever.


    RN: Now looking back does it feel surreal that so much time has passed since, ’99 was 17 years ago! It just feels mental that…
    Ole: Yep! Time flies when you have fun! And I had 14 and a half years at United, absolutely fantastic but now I’m going into my… in the summer it’s 10 years since I retired so it’s gone really quickly. I’m not a person, I don’t like to sit down, and sit back and look back at what I did, I always want to make new memories for myself or make something happen but of course in the last, when my kids grow up now I have got Noah who is 16, Elijah will be 9 in the summer, Karna is 13 and it’s like, when they sing my song at Old Trafford, I get emotional, ’well they remembered Daddy! They do remember it still!’
    RN: Always!


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    RN: How much did Cardiff scar, are you glad you did it?
    Ole: I’m glad I did it. I’m very glad I did it because for me like an experience it was invaluable, you can’t learn in a coaching course, you’ve got to go out there and test yourself and do it. We might look back at it… I look back at it, well it was the wrong decision right now with hindsight to take that job, I’m sure Vincent Tan they look at it as they’ve, it was the wrong decision to hire Ole, but at the time for me it felt like the right move because if I could get the club going it would have been a great achievement because Vincent still wanted that club to be successful, it was a great chance for me.


    RN: Do you still see managing United as an aim? Or are you happy being happy without the stress of that huge job?
    Ole: I would have loved to have managed United, that’s my dream job and still is. That’s a dream job and when we came to Old Trafford with Cardiff, that’s the most surreal experience I’ve had. Without a shadow of a doubt. So the United supporters singing my song for about 75% of the game and I’ve got to be professional because I’m doing a job. We had a chance to get a result up there and my support, or the Cardiff supporters singing my song, it was such a surreal, difficult position to be in. Even though I was professional and we had a great chance, but it was just bad timing. Robin Van Persie came back, they’d just signed Mata… To have got the result at Old Trafford would have been… on Sunday when Warren (Joyce) was stood there (with Wigan) on the touchline, and he’s like, it’s a strange feeling. Because Man Utd does something to you, it’s not just a normal, everyday club, it scarred me for life! It touched me for life.


    RN: You still feel that connection?
    Ole. It never goes. Yeah. Oh! Now, when we’ve got the good times going again, with Zlatan is there now, Mkhitaryan, Paul is back, because I had Paul in the reserves, we’ve started to look like Man Utd again. We’ve got the big names, when we beat was it Boro, when Paul scored in extra-time, I was watching with my Noah and with 15 minutes to go ‘don’t worry Son, we’ll win this one, I’ve seen this before!’. It was New Years Eve wasn’t it? Then I said to him ‘I’ve watched these games so many times, don’t worry about it, we’ll win this’.


    RN: So you’re up celebrating when it goes in, jumping around?
    Ole: Yeah! So I text the Gaffer after that game ‘we’ve done that before, haven’t we!’, and he said ’yeah, we’ve done that a few times’, because we text him Happy Birthday, just like the old times.


    RN: What happened after Fergie, do you think that’s just what was going to happen whatever, how do you replace the greatest?
    Ole: It always happens. If you just look at every single club, at home with Rosenborg they had Nils Arne Eggen and they won the league for X amount of time, when he retires, downturn unfortunately, because he had that strong personality that everyone, there was so much respect there so that’s them, 3% or 4% that players will step off the gas a little bit because the Gaffer is not there, that’s enough in the top, top league to be 4th, or 5th.


    RN: And do you think Jose has cracked it and he will get it right and a 21st title?
    Ole: Yeah, oh we’ll get it, we’re on the road, we’re on the way again. Of course the league, it used to be between us and Arsenal to be fair when I played, and towards the end Chelsea came in there, now it’s Man City, now you’ve got Tottenham, Liverpool back in there with a shout and now it’s one of six. I’m sure that with the strength that we’ve got in the management team now, and the players we are attracting, that we are on the road.


    RN: Who was the team that you looked out for, the fixture that you wanted?
    Ole: Of course Liverpool. It’s the Liverpool game. That’s the first one you looked at. There was a couple of seasons when Man City were down in the Championship, and even League One I think wasn’t it?


    RN: Yep, ’99, brilliant…
    Ole: But it was the Liverpool game, home and away. Maybe especially away because you looked at that one and say ‘we have to beat them there’, and we did a few times!


    RN: I was on the top row, third tier, it’s still vivid, I can picture it all, is it still vivid for you in the Nou Camp?
    Ole: Yeah to be fair it is. Because I’ve seen the pictures so many times, I’ve seen the goal so many times…


    RN: How many times have you had to talk about it!
    Ole: So many times I’m asked to answer that question about ‘how did it feel’! So it’s still there and I can still remember my chat with Jim Ryan before the game and I tell him ‘something big is going to happen to me’. Everything in and around that game is quite easy to bring out memories.


    RN: How does it feel watching it with your kids now, now they are old enough to understand what you did?
    Ole: Of course you’re proud that you have been part of Man Utd’s maybe proudest moment.


    RN: Does it feel odd that many men have named their kids after you?!
    Ole: No. There are so many grown men that come to me and say ‘it’s the best moment of my life, don’t tell my wife and all that!’


    RN: It was though!
    Ole: Yeah. It does something to many people.


    RN: It did something demented, I still can’t explain it. We’re normal people but that sent us a bit deranged.
    Ole: Yeah I think so! Laughs.


    RN: I was at Charlton, and you came back and scored that goal after that injury, I have to say I didn’t think you’d come back, how satisfying was that little period, the swansong period? Was it hard, were you suffering badly?
    Ole: My knee was never 100% but it’s part of a story here now… that after my injury because Noah was, when I was injured, Noah was born 2000 and I got my injury in 2003 so he’s 3, then I made a comeback but it was not right, so he was 4 when I did the operation but my Dad used to be a Roman Greco wrestler, and he was Norwegian Champion 6 years on the bounce, from ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69, ’70, ’71, he was Norwegian Champion but that was before I was born, so I’ve only seen his paper clippings so I don’t remember my Dad wrestling, but that was always, every day when I was in the gym, my main motivation was ‘my Noah is going to watch me at Old Trafford, score a goal and remember seeing that day for the rest of his life’…


    RN: Oh that’s lovely… Wow.
    Ole: So that was my main like, that’s what my heart, that was the main thing to get back… And when I did, scored that goal at Charlton, that was unbelievable, I missed a chance very similar to the chance I scored just before and the relief when I scored that goal was massive and I came on and I got the Captain’s armband and celebrated in front of the away fans was unbelievable but then again when I score at home and Noah was there, 2-0 against Newcastle, I can still picture him, both hands fists celebrating, I know it is too much! That’s for me is probably the best moment I’ve had. After the injury.


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    RN: Is that your favourite goal then?
    Ole: You know the favourite moment, when I walk off the pitch after that 2-0 win against Newcastle and he just clenches his fists. (RN: I think I’m crying at this point!). But of course the 10 days in ’99 were massive. My best goal is probably the one I scored against Sturm Graz in the Champions League, with my left foot volley that went straight from the 18 yard box.


    RN: What was the low points then?
    Ole: Of course the injury towards the end. Losing Finals but probably the lowest and the most vivid memory is the 1-1 away to Bayer Leverkusen when we lost in the Semi Final of the Champions League. We drew 2-2 at home, we should have been 3-1 up, I think it was Seba Veron hit the post, hit the other post, out, counter attack instead of 3-1, they scored, it’s 2-2 at the other end. But I had a chance in maybe the 85th minute or something, a half volley from about 14/15 yards, just palmed that over the crossbar, that’s the most vivid memory I’ve got, of missing that chance.


    RN: Do you think that we should have won more than one European Cup in that spell?
    Ole: Definitely. With Eric when we lost the Semi Final in ’97 to Dortmund, as I felt we were the team to beat. Of course you played Juventus a couple of times, and had tight games against them that I thought we could go onto win it. That period after ’99 we thought we could go onto win a couple, Champions League is its margins. Post in, post out, that’s the difference.


    RN: Roy Keane said in his book that he was looking at the line up at Leverkusen and questioned the hunger, do you think that was it? Or unfortunate moments in games?
    Ole: Well you can say both but when you’re that close. 2-1, we’re winning at home, I’m sure it was Veron who had a shot and it hit both the posts or close to it anyway, that chance inside the post and they go out the other way and score a counter-attack, that’s not down to anything but luck, that’s football!


    RN: What was it like sharing a dressing room with Eric and Keane, two huge characters?
    Ole: Fantastic. Eric and Roy were two different persons obviously but Keano is the best Captain you could ever have in a team. For me. I’ve been asked so many times ‘pick one player that you played with’ and I can pick Cantona because he was the best player in my position when I came, I could have Ronaldo because he’s the best player now, Giggsy because of his qualities, Scholesy, he was probably the best player, Becks for his crossing, Jaap Stam, Rio, no-one when past him, Laurent Blanc, because he’s a legend, but for me if I pick one, I pick Roy Keane. Because all the influence he had on the squad and all the players around and everything he did. I’d pick Roy.


    RN: How often did he call you out? Was it only occasionally and these stories get exaggerated over time?
    Ole: He picked me out a few times but then again we’re mates now! Or we speak on the phone, and we text each other quite often. And when I’m in England we go for a cup of coffee. I understand that Roy did that because he can affect me in a positive way and he wanted me to do well for the team because the team needed me at my best. The players that never had a bollocking from Roy, you had no chance anyway!


    RN: The Newcastle game, you’ve got sent off, how scared of the bollocking were you from Fergie?
    Ole: To be honest I didn’t see it coming. Because it was the only right thing to do in my mind there and then. We lost the league by one point to Arsenal that year, it was in the 90th minute, 1-1. We could still get hold of that ball and score a goal towards the end in the other end so we needed to win the game. We would not win the game if 1) I gave a penalty away or 2) he scored. So to be honest I didn’t see a bollocking coming! Laughs. But I deserved it, yes, I can see that because it’s not fair play. Players patted me on the shoulder ‘well done, you did it for the team, you took one for the team’, but as the manager for the biggest club in the world it’s the only right thing to do is to give me a proper hairdryer. And he did! I was called into his office the next day. I had one more. One bad and more. After defeat to Sheffield Wednesday away at Hillsborough, so it was one of the two proper hairdryers I’ve had! You take it on board, there is absolutely no point trying to get back at him, just take it, you receive it and you accept it and you move on and you learn from it.


    RN: Was it more worrying when he wasn’t angry, keeping it hidden?
    Ole: To be fair I have to say I really enjoyed coming into half-time when he said ‘well done Ole!’ or when he mentioned me ‘look at the attitude’. I think he trusted me. What he does is he learnt how to manage everyone. So he knew, yeah, the bollocking once in a while did me good because I had to grow up but he praised me, he knew how to keep me on my toes and make me play at my best.


    RN: Obviously the Utd fans have such love for you, how does that feel? When you said about Reds still singing your name? Nobody has a bad word about you, you could murder cats and get away with it…
    Ole: It’s surreal. It is surreal and as I said it’s ten years ago that I retired, it seems like a past life but when I remember back on it and I wish, you can’t wish because I’ve picked it myself, I’ve moved back to Norway, settled, we really enjoy it but I wish I could have been to Old Trafford more often to watch the games and see the atmosphere because it’s the best feeling you can have.


    RN: We’ll have to get you in the away end Ole because a good away day is the best…
    Ole: Don’t I remember! Yes, I will!


    RN: So what are your ambitions left now?
    Ole: Of course I’ve been in the Premier League, got relegated, I would like to set that record straight one day but I can see now that because I was up and young and not so experienced, it’s 3 years ago now I took that job, I was 40, I think I’ll be better suited in say 3 or 4 years to get back in the big time.


    RN: If not for a goal, what’s your favourite moment, where you thought at United ‘this is the business, this?’
    Ole: I never thought I’d made it because I was always striving to get into that first XI more often, I would want to be a regular. Probably not believing 100% that I could nail down a first team regular spot really, but I probably realised I could have such an affect on the team as a sub. But when the Gaffer, because Spurs and Man Utd agreed a fee for me in the summer of ’98, but that not happening was down to the Gaffer. He called me in and said ‘well the clubs are agreed, I don’t want you to leave. We’re going to sign Dwight Yorke but if you stay you’ll play enough games, you’ll be an important part of this team’. That was enough for me. But then he also said ‘don’t tell anyone I said this!’. After what happened in ’99 and I scored that goal I think it’s justified that everyone should know that the Gaffer convinced me to stay! It was down to him.


    RN: And how are your knees today, are they aright?
    Ole: No, not really, no. No, to be fair. I live a normal life. Without being able to play football. The cold doesn’t really help. I can jog round the pitch and I can have a little kickabout but I can’t play proper football.


    RN: One last question, on the 30th anniversary of the fanzine, through all the good and bad of Utd, if you’ve one message to Utd fans, what would it be right now?
    Ole: We’ll get back to Number One. Just keep supporting the players and the club. And I’m sure we’ll turn it round. What’s been amazing, for me I’ve only experienced Man Utd supporters, they’ve always been positive. When I speak to players, my ex-team-mates that have played in Spain, or in Italy, the backing the Man Utd supporters give their own team is second to none. You see now, Real Madrid, if they lose a game or two games, Zidane’s got to go out to a press conference and maybe have a little comment about well the supporters should keep supporting the team and maybe the manager, that’s never happened at Man Utd. Never happens. Through good times and the bad.


    RN: Thanks so much Ole.
    Ole: Pleasure. Absolute pleasure.


    Interview by Barney, thanks to Per at Molde for sorting so very quickly when they heard it was for our 30th. No fuss, and Ole a gent, as you’d imagine!


    Copyright RedNews.


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  • Red News
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    In memory of United fan Rob Ferrari, a dear friend, who died a year ago.


    22nd January 1969 - 6th September 2017.


    I was a bit of a nervy kid. I wasn’t particularly interested in much going on at school, a late learner shall we say, and for much of secondary school kept myself to myself, a few friends to talk football with, but not many knowing about my ‘other’, much more enjoyable life.


    I pretty much lived for my Utd life. Still do, I suppose, but my son has given me some perspective at last. I was a right lucky bastard in that my Mum had taken me to Old Trafford at 5, I’d picked up my first addiction in life and wanted it fed. She took me occasionally, then often, then all the time, and still I’d space out on a Friday baffled by biology, and count down the hours until it was the train and a whole new world - a new universe - to the game.


    Because there was this set of people. The Cockney Reds. A right mix, and that’s putting it mildly, of pisscans, scarfers, oddballs, hooligans and all in between. On a good day it would be the high hundreds and just like at the wider community at the game itself, bar the odd disagreements, there was a real sense of belonging in the different groups and between them. It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s true, this was my first real education in life. The nervy kid became no more seeing all sorts and all sorts happen on those journeys.


    I’d love to do a book on the characters, not just one, but all of them. But for a time anything went.


    These weren’t the days anymore of big groups of rival fans waiting at Euston every match for those that wanted to Queensbury rules with each other outside, so the skirmishes if not at the match would happen on the train. Like now I’m not much of a lover but certainly no fighter but as a kid from 8 upwards I would watch terrified and then amazed at some of the scraps these groups of lads would have with each other. It was another distant world to now, where a train toilet bleeps when a wrong button is pressed.


    West Ham in the Cup and a Red was stabbed. Millwall and Utd getting on at different stations and fire extinguishers used. It was a different world, and though not mine, I did not depart it fearful, because you could, if you wanted to avoid it, avoid it. But people looked after you, if Reds felt you were in danger you’d be protected and the wider journeys were special, unique days. Carriages full of these different groups where every game was an event, a selection of memories and stories. I didn’t like seeing the trouble, I certainly didn’t tell my teachers in a ‘what did you do at the weekend’ essay competition, but I was being educated and these people were becoming characters I knew. And liked. For much of the 1980s, any one journey from London to Manchester would have enough to keep Ken Loach going for a year.


    And as I grew older, leaving school and relishing the opportunity to earn a few quid with a real job as I started this fanzine at 16 and would type the pages up hiding them away when my bosses came around the bookshops I actually worked at, you began to migrate to the people you most had a laugh with and whose company suited you. I did my first euro away on a trip to the Dam - not on the ferry but that eventful week in the mid 80s - and bloody hell did that teach me more, not all good!
    I felt a buzz being 16 with older lads and a few helped me out, taught me more, and the likes of Mum and Zar - even with all his angry ways - telling me don’t ever let the bullies win and certainly don’t take bollocks off of anyone, led me through that tricky age. I’m veering into football fan autobiography land here - without the tales of my own trouble and 4 of us taking on 400 but there was a code and a sense of belonging and they were some of the happiest days of my life. An away day with United in the late 80s, with the 1000s following, was a lotto small win, which could climb up to 4 or 5 numbers depending on the progress of the day. Sheffield Wednesday, Forest and Coventry away and you’ve cracked the jackpot.


    My circle became wider. Sean, Fat Kev, Eddie, Fred, John, Veg, a fair few more and then this lad on one train journey who was betting at cards with people he shouldn’t have, far cannier and older as beer and bravado had got the better of him and he was increasing the stake as we were fearing for his! The eventual slump as they took him to the cleaners saw a few of us say come for a beer when the train got in. Because the day and game could be a prelude to the main event of the night itself. In towns hosting United, Manchester or London as we ended up in some right states, with some right states, in some right odd gaffs at 3, 4 or 5 am - not in the days when bars could open that late, but I’d developed a sense of smell for the seediest and ropiest gaffs that didn’t care for such niceties as closing times and would keep serving us fish drinkers our swill.


    Rob like us all could be a bit of a tool, he had his moments like we all can, but he was funny, generous and could make a night bloom. We welcomed him into our ragtag bunch and as Utd improved so did our wages and our lives as we were becoming men, or so we thought. The best of times at Utd started and the best of the times of our lives. We started to do every game, this bunch, and in those days, every game seemed an event, so we’d spend two days for Hereford in the Cup, could get away with it then, little responsibilities, those that we did have, pushed aside. Loads stayed down and over for matches, and then we were off and running thanks to the genius of Fergie and in 1991 me and Rob became more than friends, we became euro away room-mates and all the barminess that can entail. We’d take a week to get to Montpellier and back, a week for Rotterdam, even Barca ’94. We thought those days would never end, and I still part wish they hadn’t.


    Of course we had some growing up to do but that could wait. We felt invincible and for an iota of time we were. We danced the line but tried not to cross it but it was the time when England was changing, rave culture and all that. I crossed that line more than Rob and I was glad he could, only a few times, be a bit more sensible than me and lead me back to the path. We didn’t worry about what came next, just what was now, and it was an age where you felt you are the world rather than an outsider pondering what the fuck it’s now all about. It was a world that had none of the technology of now, but coped well enough. Seriously we had fun!


    We laughed in a lot of countries. We’d meet up on non matchdays. We met Friday night, Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday. We’d have girlfriends that may come and go but that United Road kept us by its side; it’s all I’ve ever done, what else can I do, it’s the only job I’m capable of keeping and having and I’d wake up on a Sunday morning with an 8 foot chicken nugget sign in my bedroom and have to ring Rob and ask why. We’d found out the doors were left open for the cleaners at the fastfood place next to our local to come in on the Sunday morning in more innocent times, so the next week we went back and invited a few local tramps to come in and help themselves (tills were closed and no, we wouldn’t have) to the cheese and bread that was left behind. God knows what the cleaner found that Sunday morning.


    The days did end of course. You get a little bit more normal as you get older, and the carriages of scores of Reds are now a few old faces and dinosaurs and very few new ones that get it, and you have families and more responsibility and though some do it all, you get happy that you can do some. Mine and Rob’s last proper hurrah was in 1999. Another week. For old time’s sake, straight after the FA Cup Final, 20 of us via Magaluf and a magical few nights in a place where that isn’t uttered very often via the plane to Barcelona and the greatest of nights. Topped off with about 200 of us heading to a bar we knew from 1994 that - thank fuck - by chance was still the same and stayed open until 7am, locals joining in with our party to end all parties. We danced, sang, cheered and the pic from Veg sums Rob up at his happiest and best. Centre of things, loving it. His face from the Semi in Turin as he held up the first edition paper after the night celebrating I wish I did have a picture of still. In his element. Buzzing.


    He was having a family and said he’d seen it all, they came first, and it was time to retire. I did try to argue it would never be as good but it could still be very good - as Moscow showed - but there’s a part of me that understood and perhaps a little bit envied that single mindedness and though of course he was always still a Red, and as passionate, and did the odd game here and there, and loved Utd, his days on that train, and the Utd train were gone.


    I saw him the night before the Rome Final in Ostia, with his family, and a few of us had a great night. Him still the same, remembering and laughing and me at times moaning at all the changes and the faces no longer going and wishing a bit of it could still be more like it once was. We had one last train journey where he was amazed how calm and sterilised the journey let alone the football ground was. And then as I had a kid you forget to text or meet up. Fuck me, why didn’t I. Regrets.
    And then on holiday a few weeks ago I got the horrible news that Rob had died. This lovely fella, with so much life still ahead of him and so much to share with his lovely family was never going to crack a joke again, take the piss or just be Rob. It was heartbreaking and I remain stunned, sad, and find it surreal, that life’s dance can be so horrible at times as much as when it’s good it can be so enjoyable.


    It’s not for me to try and make sense of it all. Just to say Utd gave us sense, order, purpose and so much. There are a few dear Reds no longer with us now to make me appeal that you are not alone, that you are always loved and if you feel alone, please reach out to someone, as people are there to speak to - and https://www.papyrus-uk.org and @MindCharity are two such ways. There is help out there.


    And to younger Reds, enjoy these times because they can still be so magical for you, the mates you will make via this great club of ours, the occasions, trips, highlights and trying to help each other through the low times - it is still a community worth fighting for and finding and whilst us oldies tell us those were better times, it’s up to you to prove us wrong and make these even better. Enjoy, live it all, do as much as you can. Have a laugh, don’t get bogged down in the shit and enjoy the journey, because there are so many stops, things to see, do, laugh at, every facet where of course the 90 minutes is the main event, but everything around it away from the shit, can be so fucking splendid. Have the journey!


    Memories have come flooding back, and it’s hard to stop, no Dam for the tears that follow sadly. Days of ringing each other on a landline and going into a travel agent to sort paper flight tickets. Hotels booked over the phone in pigeon French, looking at a large map spread across a bed or table in awe at where everything was, or could be.


    I remember being chased across a park by Juventus fans in the 90s with bloody huge knives and some plain clothes police saving us. Protected, Rob spotted one of their ultras wearing a York City shirt celebrating them beating us in the League Cup a while before. Rob’s laughing mock of ‘Fucking York City” kept us laughing all trip. “Fucking York City!”


    The likes of Rob don’t always get an obituary but they should. We all need a Rob in our lives; so loyal, funny, direct, at times like us all a bit annoying but what good mates doesn’t do your head in when you spend 24-7. He laughed, he lived. And boy did we live the 1990s. Every step of the way together as it turned out. A Red who it was a pleasure to know and share this.


    Obviously all of us there will always say we’d re-live 1999 again and again but can I add the proviso that I’d re-live the night actually after it too, as those beers held aloft like the players into the early hours were the icing on the cake and I’d turn to Rob during it all and say ‘thanks, you helped make that such a magical decade for me and made me smile so very often. And I miss you, like I do so many others now, so very, very much mate.’


    Rest in Peace.


    Thanks for reading this. And raise a glass to Rob Ferrari tonight if you can dear Reds.


    Gemma Crozier, his niece, is raising money for @MindCharity in memory of Rob, taking part in the Isle of Wight challenge - You can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gemma-crozier4

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  • Red News
    replied
    In praise of... Ashley Young


    'Ashley Young isn't good enough to sign for Manchester United.'


    'Ashley Young isn't good enough to play for Manchester United'


    'Ashley Young isn't good enough to be a winger for Manchester United.'


    'Ashley Young isn't good enough to be a left-back for Manchester United.'


    'Ashley Young isn't good enough to play for England.'


    'Ashley Young isn't good enough to go to the World Cup with England.'


    Ashley Young has had to deal with quite a bit of criticism as a footballer, and that's not even covering the fall out from his reputation of going to ground rather easily.


    Your critique of his worth as a footballer however hasn't affected his desire or determination to prove the doubters wrong, and when facing questions at Manchester United, has brushed it off, never responded or moaned or used his agent for agenda, and with a commendable steel merely got on with it to try and prove the doubters were wrong.


    He may not convince all, but as others we could name with greater ability or a more natural style have struggled to cope with the demands and managerial requests to be a Manchester United footballer in the first team, he has managed to convince them all that he offers them something else, not least the ability, crucial in the modern game, to listen to instructions and carry them out.


    Jose Mourinho may have faults, but stupidity is not one of them and he choose Ashley Young to play at left-back as last season wore on not because he was the most gifted left-back he had at his disposal, but because he was the most able to carry out his instructions and stick to his plan. That plan may have raised eyebrows as the season wore on, but just like when he was placed as a forward under LvG, Young, who still sees himself as winger ahead of any other position, got on with it, realising that any position in the starting XI is one to seize rather than, as some do, rattle their cages about not playing in their preferred position.


    Likewise it is clear if Manchester United are to hunt the bigger trophies we fans want to be back in the running for, a natural fast and able left-back if Luke Shaw is not the answer is needed at the club, but Jose identifies Young as someone he suggests may feature in many more games for the club because he is one who is willing to not just fight for the opportunity but give all he can when he's got the nod.


    It is very easy in today's era to label someone as 'crap' in a throwaway, anonymous internet age where only last game and next matter, but United's best eras are littered with good squad options that offer versatility and form the backbone for the success that the star names then help convert and as Young clocked up his 150th league appearance for United at the end of last season covering four permanent managers, his surprise chance of making the squad for Russia suddenly didn't seem as debatable as he could, again, offer the versatility and fulfil Southgate's instructions that England may need in more tactical games.


    Even for this international cynic it was good to see him start against Tunisia and there comes a point that you perhaps have to stop doubting his inclusion, as Terry Butcher has had plenty to say about this week, and instead respect the many positives of why he's being selected in the first place. Start praising what he does actually offer, rather than what he doesn't.


    He's never shirked, even when it seemed as though he was on the fringes of Jose's thinking. As when he arrived at United: "I know it is going to be a challenge, but I'm up for that challenge." he has bided his time, awaited his chance and given his all, handled the periods that must be excruciating when he goes runs of matches only watching from the stands.


    That desire to accept the challenge at Utd seems a given, a strange thing to suggest any footballer might not do, but regular match going fans at Old Trafford since 2013 know otherwise. Attitude is huge in football. Why do you think he's still at our club?


    Nemanja Matic and Ashley Young might not pull up any houses, but they, along with Lukaku, are the ones who became the cornerstone of Jose's selection as last season dragged on - and it did by its end, to the point where some fans like I wished it over - because they did the job they were asked to do. The plan itself may raise debates, but clearly some others were not able to listen, buckle down, get on with it, and follow them.


    In the modern era more will be needed at left-back, and the opposing side of the pitch as well, but Young being the stick to beat Jose's at times uninspiring football is perhaps too easy a target. The defence may scare us with its inconsistency, the next mistake only a train stop away, but it was a defence that only conceded 28 goals all season in the league, just one more than the quadruple winners and boat race winners across town. Maybe though we think it, our defence was not as bad as we made out?


    Some may suggest I have a vested interest. Young is good to this fanzine. When a reader got in touch to say his father had terminal cancer, Young heard about it, got in touch and offered an executive box for a game in a move which will never be forgotten by that family. On another occasion after the FA Cup victory after Crystal Palace he asked, as he hoped, that Utd fans were enjoying themselves that night and partying away. That's not to curry favour, for being nice to this fanzine doesn't sit well with the suits high above, more our theory that he joined this great club of ours but also got this great club of ours. Realised it was something special, how lucky he was to be at it, playing for it, and would give a nod here or there to the people who follow it whenever they can knowing that it's never too much, little is huge if you're a football fan.


    Of course he's lucky to be left-back at Manchester United, every single player is lucky enough to be playing for, well, this great club of ours. But perhaps we should turn the doubts and questions around and instead, whilst of course always demanding better signings and better football, appreciate a player who never threw his toys out of the pram, got it, got on with it, and got his head down to follow the instructions of whoever is in charge of him as manager of Manchester United.


    Maybe we appreciate how decent a season he had, where we didn't see that many United players improve themselves as he did.


    He may not prove the doubters wrong, but he's proved where an attitude of commitment and determination may get you at this club, and with England, where it's not the ability you have but what you do with it and your mental approach.


    A young player dreaming of playing for United and England would do worse than to look at Young and realise where his attitude has taken him.


    Manchester United players like having him around. So does Jose.


    Your view is your own, but when it looked like Young could be offski, he applied himself and the end result is a good - yes, good - season for our club and now playing at the World Cup.


    That's really good to see.


    'Ashley Young is good enough to be at Manchester United and at the World Cup with England'.


    20th June 2018

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  • Red News
    replied
    Red News’ exclusive interview with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for our 30th anniversary here in full.


    This interview first appeared in RedNews’ 30th anniversary mag in April 2017, RN242 and was conducted in February 2017


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    Ole. 366 games, 150 as a sub. 29 goals scored as a sub, 97 goals from starting.
    126 goals in total. Lovely.


    RN: So how are you then?
    Ole: Good, good, preparing and looking forward for a new season (at Molde). It’s completely different because obviously the facilities here, you never know, for example today the under pitch heating didn’t work so it was broke and it was minus -2 so instead of being able to train outside we had to go into a 60 x 40 indoor hall so you’ve got to work day to day really. And it’s a long, long pre-season, friendlies in February and March and then we start the league on 1st April so I was used to it as a player, I remember thinking because it was really hard period of pre-season so we train maybe too long, too hard, loads of running, compared to now where we focus more on high intensity, shorter distances, so how to adapt. English pre-season sometimes the difference maybe 6-8 weeks, maximum 9, while here we have got pre-season for 12 weeks. And that’s probably the shortest one because we started a week or 10 days later than anyone else in Norway.


    RN: And how does it feel going back? Did it feel right?
    Ole: Yeah it does, it’s great just working with players day in, day out, players who want to improve, to develop, players here are dreaming to play abroad, play in England, Germany, so you’ve got 100% attitude every single day, so too many players, say in the Championship then, they’ve got enough money, they are comfortable where they are and it’s not about stepping out of the comfort zone it’s just ticking over.
    RN: Sir Alex often said that you were observing the game on the bench, is that true, were you taking it all in?
    Ole: Yeah, I think so. Because first of all I was privileged to be involved in what I was involved in so I felt no, there was not many times I sat on the bench thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore’. I was there and I was always ready to get on and most of the times I would get on because if we were losing the Gaffer would change because he knew the affect I might have just both on supporters, our own team and the opposition team because we built like an image, like a myth that when he came on he scored goals! Then again if we were winning 2-0, he just gave me 20-30 minutes at the end or at half-time because he wanted to keep us all happy so a 1-0 win was probably the worst result! He wouldn’t put me on! Laughs.


    RN: So were you observing the tactical side or positioning, what was it?
    Ole: I was just mentally preparing for the game. It’s a bit of a myth that I was analysing the lot but I did come on and of course I watched the game so I did see which one of the full-backs was slow or which one of the centre-backs I could beat in the air, really important things, you can find spaces, find weaknesses so in a sense it’s true and in another it’s a bit more exaggerated if you know what I mean. That’s the way I am. I can spot the players quite quickly.
    RN: So you’re sussing that now as a manager? And passing that advice on to the players?
    Ole: Yeah of course. It’s one of those things that I’ve always got with me that I can use to my substitutes, that you might be able to change the game, you’ve got to do this, that or the other, you’ve got to not sulk. No point sulking to me because I know what it’s like, I never sulked. There’s absolutely no point in feeling sorry for yourself because it won’t help you.
    RN: Did it piss you off the ‘supersub’ tag because you started a fair few too banging them in?
    Ole: To be fair it didn’t piss me off but obviously I realise after a while or towards the end of my career that I was the perfect sub for the Gaffer because he knew I was never pissed off or I would never sulk so when I came on it would have an affect on the game. He knew he could trust me as a squad player because I just did my best no matter what. Of course I enjoyed starting games but coming on and doing so well as a sub so many times, changed quite a few games, but it made my name and I’ll be remembered as a good sub.
    RN: More than that!
    Ole: But it doesn’t matter because at least you made a name for yourself. When I grew up there was only one or two subs back then, I remember David Fairclough came on for Liverpool quite often, I was happy doing the job that the Gaffer demanded and required from me.


    RN: There was one thing I have never seen you asked, Teddy and Andy Cole didn’t get on, so how was that for you as one of the players who was sometimes playing with both or alternating, was it uncomfortable?
    Ole: None whatsoever because what we did in our spare time and leisure time didn’t really matter and there was only in one argument, in one game and after that they still played as well as possible together, they never ever had a ‘no, I’m not going to pass to him’, absolutely no chance and the Gaffer sussed that out quickly, that he could trust them, they are top professionals - you don’t have to get on, you don’t have to go and have dinner with each other but when you play you play as well as you can play as a player and it never frustrated me, no. Never, ever.
    RN: Now looking back does it feel surreal that so much time has passed since, ’99 was 17 years ago! It just feels mental that…
    Ole: Yep! Time flies when you have fun! And I had 14 and a half years at United, absolutely fantastic but now I’m going into my… in the summer it’s 10 years since I retired so it’s gone really quickly. I’m not a person, I don’t like to sit down, and sit back and look back at what I did, I always want to make new memories for myself or make something happen but of course in the last, when my kids grow up now I have got Noah who is 16, Elijah will be 9 in the summer, Karna is 13 and it’s like, when they sing my song at Old Trafford, I get emotional, ’well they remembered Daddy! They do remember it still!’
    RN: Always!
    RN: How much did Cardiff scar, are you glad you did it?
    Ole: I’m glad I did it. I’m very glad I did it because for me like an experience it was invaluable, you can’t learn in a coaching course, you’ve got to go out there and test yourself and do it. We might look back at it… I look back at it, well it was the wrong decision right now with hindsight to take that job, I’m sure Vincent Tan they look at it as they’ve, it was the wrong decision to hire Ole, but at the time for me it felt like the right move because if I could get the club going it would have been a great achievement because Vincent still wanted that club to be successful, it was a great chance for me.
    RN: Do you still see managing United as an aim? Or are you happy being happy without the stress of that huge job?
    Ole: I would have loved to have managed United, that’s my dream job and still is. That’s a dream job and when we came to Old Trafford with Cardiff, that’s the most surreal experience I’ve had. Without a shadow of a doubt. So the United supporters singing my song for about 75% of the game and I’ve got to be professional because I’m doing a job. We had a chance to get a result up there and my support, or the Cardiff supporters singing my song, it was such a surreal, difficult position to be in. Even though I was professional and we had a great chance, but it was just bad timing. Robin Van Persie came back, they’d just signed Mata… To have got the result at Old Trafford would have been… on Sunday when Warren (Joyce) was stood there (with Wigan) on the touchline, and he’s like, it’s a strange feeling. Because Man Utd does something to you, it’s not just a normal, everyday club, it scarred me for life! It touched me for life.


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    RN: You still feel that connection?
    Ole. It never goes. Yeah. Oh! Now, when we’ve got the good times going again, with Zlatan is there now, Mkhitaryan, Paul is back, because I had Paul in the reserves, we’ve started to look like Man Utd again. We’ve got the big names, when we beat was it Boro, when Paul scored in extra-time, I was watching with my Noah and with 15 minutes to go ‘don’t worry Son, we’ll win this one, I’ve seen this before!’. It was New Years Eve wasn’t it? Then I said to him ‘I’ve watched these games so many times, don’t worry about it, we’ll win this’.
    RN: So you’re up celebrating when it goes in, jumping around?
    Ole: Yeah! So I text the Gaffer after that game ‘we’ve done that before, haven’t we!’, and he said ’yeah, we’ve done that a few times’, because we text him Happy Birthday, just like the old times.
    RN: What happened after Fergie, do you think that’s just what was going to happen whatever, how do you replace the greatest?
    Ole: It always happens. If you just look at every single club, at home with Rosenborg they had Nils Arne Eggen and they won the league for X amount of time, when he retires, downturn unfortunately, because he had that strong personality that everyone, there was so much respect there so that’s them, 3% or 4% that players will step off the gas a little bit because the Gaffer is not there, that’s enough in the top, top league to be 4th, or 5th.
    RN: And do you think Jose has cracked it and he will get it right and a 21st title?
    Ole: Yeah, oh we’ll get it, we’re on the road, we’re on the way again. Of course the league, it used to be between us and Arsenal to be fair when I played, and towards the end Chelsea came in there, now it’s Man City, now you’ve got Tottenham, Liverpool back in there with a shout and now it’s one of six. I’m sure that with the strength that we’ve got in the management team now, and the players we are attracting, that we are on the road.
    RN: Who was the team that you looked out for, the fixture that you wanted?
    Ole: Of course Liverpool. It’s the Liverpool game. That’s the first one you looked at. There was a couple of seasons when Man City were down in the Championship, and even League One I think wasn’t it?
    RN: Yep, ’99, brilliant…
    Ole: But it was the Liverpool game, home and away. Maybe especially away because you looked at that one and say ‘we have to beat them there’, and we did a few times!


    RN: I was on the top row, third tier, it’s still vivid, I can picture it all, is it still vivid for you in the Nou Camp?
    Ole: Yeah to be fair it is. Because I’ve seen the pictures so many times, I’ve seen the goal so many times…
    RN: How many times have you had to talk about it!
    Ole: So many times I’m asked to answer that question about ‘how did it feel’! So it’s still there and I can still remember my chat with Jim Ryan before the game and I tell him ‘something big is going to happen to me’. Everything in and around that game is quite easy to bring out memories.
    RN: How does it feel watching it with your kids now, now they are old enough to understand what you did?
    Ole: Of course you’re proud that you have been part of Man Utd’s maybe proudest moment.
    RN: Does it feel odd that many men have named their kids after you?!
    Ole: No. There are so many grown men that come to me and say ‘it’s the best moment of my life, don’t tell my wife and all that!’
    RN: It was though!
    Ole: Yeah. It does something to many people.
    RN: It did something demented, I still can’t explain it. We’re normal people but that sent us a bit deranged.
    Ole: Yeah I think so! Laughs.
    RN: I was at Charlton, and you came back and scored that goal after that injury, I have to say I didn’t think you’d come back, how satisfying was that little period, the swansong period? Was it hard, were you suffering badly?
    Ole: My knee was never 100% but it’s part of a story here now… that after my injury because Noah was, when I was injured, Noah was born 2000 and I got my injury in 2003 so he’s 3, then I made a comeback but it was not right, so he was 4 when I did the operation but my Dad used to be a Roman Greco wrestler, and he was Norwegian Champion 6 years on the bounce, from ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69, ’70, ’71, he was Norwegian Champion but that was before I was born, so I’ve only seen his paper clippings so I don’t remember my Dad wrestling, but that was always, every day when I was in the gym, my main motivation was ‘my Noah is going to watch me at Old Trafford, score a goal and remember seeing that day for the rest of his life’…
    RN: Oh that’s lovely… Wow.
    Ole: So that was my main like, that’s what my heart, that was the main thing to get back… And when I did, scored that goal at Charlton, that was unbelievable, I missed a chance very similar to the chance I scored just before and the relief when I scored that goal was massive and I came on and I got the Captain’s armband and celebrated in front of the away fans was unbelievable but then again when I score at home and Noah was there, 2-0 against Newcastle, I can still picture him, both hands fists celebrating, I know it is too much! That’s for me is probably the best moment I’ve had. After the injury.


    RN: Is that your favourite goal then?
    Ole: You know the favourite moment, when I walk off the pitch after that 2-0 win against Newcastle and he just clenches his fists. (RN: I think I’m crying at this point!). But of course the 10 days in ’99 were massive. My best goal is probably the one I scored against Sturm Graz in the Champions League, with my left foot volley that went straight from the 18 yard box.
    RN: What was the low points then?
    Ole: Of course the injury towards the end. Losing Finals but probably the lowest and the most vivid memory is the 1-1 away to Bayer Leverkusen when we lost in the Semi Final of the Champions League. We drew 2-2 at home, we should have been 3-1 up, I think it was Seba Veron hit the post, hit the other post, out, counter attack instead of 3-1, they scored, it’s 2-2 at the other end. But I had a chance in maybe the 85th minute or something, a half volley from about 14/15 yards, just palmed that over the crossbar, that’s the most vivid memory I’ve got, of missing that chance.
    RN: Do you think that we should have won more than one European Cup in that spell?
    Ole: Definitely. With Eric when we lost the Semi Final in ’97 to Dortmund, as I felt we were the team to beat. Of course you played Juventus a couple of times, and had tight games against them that I thought we could go onto win it. That period after ’99 we thought we could go onto win a couple, Champions League is its margins. Post in, post out, that’s the difference.
    RN: Roy Keane said in his book that he was looking at the line up at Leverkusen and questioned the hunger, do you think that was it? Or unfortunate moments in games?
    Ole: Well you can say both but when you’re that close. 2-1, we’re winning at home, I’m sure it was Veron who had a shot and it hit both the posts or close to it anyway, that chance inside the post and they go out the other way and score a counter-attack, that’s not down to anything but luck, that’s football!


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    RN: What was it like sharing a dressing room with Eric and Keane, two huge characters?
    Ole: Fantastic. Eric and Roy were two different persons obviously but Keano is the best Captain you could ever have in a team. For me. I’ve been asked so many times ‘pick one player that you played with’ and I can pick Cantona because he was the best player in my position when I came, I could have Ronaldo because he’s the best player now, Giggsy because of his qualities, Scholesy, he was probably the best player, Becks for his crossing, Jaap Stam, Rio, no-one when past him, Laurent Blanc, because he’s a legend, but for me if I pick one, I pick Roy Keane. Because all the influence he had on the squad and all the players around and everything he did. I’d pick Roy.
    RN: How often did he call you out? Was it only occasionally and these stories get exaggerated over time?
    Ole: He picked me out a few times but then again we’re mates now! Or we speak on the phone, and we text each other quite often. And when I’m in England we go for a cup of coffee. I understand that Roy did that because he can affect me in a positive way and he wanted me to do well for the team because the team needed me at my best. The players that never had a bollocking from Roy, you had no chance anyway!
    RN: The Newcastle game, you’ve got sent off, how scared of the bollocking were you from Fergie?
    Ole: To be honest I didn’t see it coming. Because it was the only right thing to do in my mind there and then. We lost the league by one point to Arsenal that year, it was in the 90th minute, 1-1. We could still get hold of that ball and score a goal towards the end in the other end so we needed to win the game. We would not win the game if 1) I gave a penalty away or 2) he scored. So to be honest I didn’t see a bollocking coming! Laughs. But I deserved it, yes, I can see that because it’s not fair play. Players patted me on the shoulder ‘well done, you did it for the team, you took one for the team’, but as the manager for the biggest club in the world it’s the only right thing to do is to give me a proper hairdryer. And he did! I was called into his office the next day. I had one more. One bad and more. After defeat to Sheffield Wednesday away at Hillsborough, so it was one of the two proper hairdryers I’ve had! You take it on board, there is absolutely no point trying to get back at him, just take it, you receive it and you accept it and you move on and you learn from it.
    RN: Was it more worrying when he wasn’t angry, keeping it hidden?
    Ole: To be fair I have to say I really enjoyed coming into half-time when he said ‘well done Ole!’ or when he mentioned me ‘look at the attitude’. I think he trusted me. What he does is he learnt how to manage everyone. So he knew, yeah, the bollocking once in a while did me good because I had to grow up but he praised me, he knew how to keep me on my toes and make me play at my best.
    RN: Obviously the Utd fans have such love for you, how does that feel? When you said about Reds still singing your name? Nobody has a bad word about you, you could murder cats and get away with it…


    Ole: It’s surreal. It is surreal and as I said it’s ten years ago that I retired, it seems like a past life but when I remember back on it and I wish, you can’t wish because I’ve picked it myself, I’ve moved back to Norway, settled, we really enjoy it but I wish I could have been to Old Trafford more often to watch the games and see the atmosphere because it’s the best feeling you can have.
    RN: We’ll have to get you in the away end Ole because a good away day is the best…
    Ole: Don’t I remember! Yes, I will!
    RN: So what are your ambitions left now?
    Ole: Of course I’ve been in the Premier League, got relegated, I would like to set that record straight one day but I can see now that because I was up and young and not so experienced, it’s 3 years ago now I took that job, I was 40, I think I’ll be better suited in say 3 or 4 years to get back in the big time.
    RN: If not for a goal, what’s your favourite moment, where you thought at United ‘this is the business, this?’
    Ole: I never thought I’d made it because I was always striving to get into that first XI more often, I would want to be a regular. Probably not believing 100% that I could nail down a first team regular spot really, but I probably realised I could have such an affect on the team as a sub. But when the Gaffer, because Spurs and Man Utd agreed a fee for me in the summer of ’98, but that not happening was down to the Gaffer. He called me in and said ‘well the clubs are agreed, I don’t want you to leave. We’re going to sign Dwight Yorke but if you stay you’ll play enough games, you’ll be an important part of this team’. That was enough for me. But then he also said ‘don’t tell anyone I said this!’. After what happened in ’99 and I scored that goal I think it’s justified that everyone should know that the Gaffer convinced me to stay! It was down to him.
    RN: And how are your knees today, are they aright?
    Ole: No, not really, no. No, to be fair. I live a normal life. Without being able to play football. The cold doesn’t really help. I can jog round the pitch and I can have a little kickabout but I can’t play proper football.
    RN: One last question, on the 30th anniversary of the fanzine, through all the good and bad of Utd, if you’ve one message to Utd fans, what would it be right now?
    Ole: We’ll get back to Number One. Just keep supporting the players and the club. And I’m sure we’ll turn it round. What’s been amazing, for me I’ve only experienced Man Utd supporters, they’ve always been positive. When I speak to players, my ex-team-mates that have played in Spain, or in Italy, the backing the Man Utd supporters give their own team is second to none. You see now, Real Madrid, if they lose a game or two games, Zidane’s got to go out to a press conference and maybe have a little comment about well the supporters should keep supporting the team and maybe the manager, that’s never happened at Man Utd. Never happens. Through good times and the bad.
    RN: Thanks so much Ole.
    Ole: Pleasure. Absolute pleasure.


    Interview by Barney, thanks to Per at Molde for sorting so very quickly when they heard it was for our 30th. No fuss, and Ole a gent, as you’d imagine!


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  • Red News
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    RedNews Editorial on why we should look back on Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United career more fondly


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    this first appeared in February’s RedNews241


    “I regret my dispute over terms that led to the manager putting me on the transfer list. I acted very immaturely. When you are young you don’t listen. Those events are really my only serious regret in the whole of football. The important things is to learn from them I did and I am sure others will in time.”


    These words weren’t uttered by a chastised Wayne Rooney after Fergie seemed to reinvigorate himself (much needed at the time, and though crassly and selfishly done, ambition did need to be questioned at the height of the ‘value era’ under Glazers) in the space of 24 hours as he turned an incendiary situation into another battle for control as he came out on top with the inspired ‘cows’ and ‘grass’ speech as Wayne performed an eventual u-turn which saw some Reds never forgive him about.


    It was Denis Law speaking in 1971 about his then much publicised transfer spat with Sir Matt Busby a while before, and I offer it not to dig at a Utd legend, but to highlight that Law and of course George Best had their transfer issues and ‘want aways’ and it rightly hasn’t altered the respect and adulation their generations and subsequent have viewed them for they are heroes. Perhaps Wayne is a victim of an era when we all expect too much, of pretty much everyone, all of the time. Bobby Charlton, like Denis Law and Bestie, did not have very good last seasons for United, that happens. Few go out on the top, or maintain consistency or even improve from a serious blip, like Giggsy did, and even he and Scholes showed the label was coming off their vintage a bit at the end.


    “You can’t afford to let a player like Wayne escape your clutches just 30 miles along the road from you.” was how Fergie greeted his arrival and that remarkable debut set the tone that suggested we had a real gem on our hands. We did well to capture him, though I always suspect Newcastle’s counter bidding was agent led to try and force a late Utd move. And whilst I always applauded him for swapping blue for red I know it was purely down to greater ambition he knew would come at his new club, yet those origins have sometimes tied the argument against him in knots by some Reds whenever things didn’t go well.


    The argument about good and great will rage for years I am sure, until, like those heroes before, it doesn’t really matter as the smaller details are no longer obscured by the greater facts, and whilst I’ll admit I really didn’t like the way he handled ‘ambition/cowgate’, during a match week as well, nor the way both he and Fergie spun the acrimonious end to their relationship in 2013, nor the way Fergie’s retirement seemed to give the player, rather than the next managers the greater centre of power gravity at the club, I still try and see the whole canvas. And I honestly thought after a performance fitting for the occasion at the European Cup Final at Wembley, the only one in a Red shirt that evening, that he’d go on and start to really compete with Messi and Ronaldo in his prime. So I have not enjoyed watching the decline of a player sooner rather than later whose lifestyle and genes have accelerated the slowing down of a footballing body whose mind seems the only working part still able. But…


    It’s the modern way to highlight the negatives. Why should it take until after it’s over to really appreciate? Certainly in another era the beating of such a record would receive greater headlines and plaudits than it did, and though the way the approach towards the record slowed to snail pace, it began to feel like many - certainly Jose judging by his rather churlish comments at Stoke - were rather bored of it before it had even happened.


    Despite the publicised moments of ‘immaturity’ he did not up ship like Ronnie did, as Rooney put his shift in so a player like CR7 could become the world star he always knew he was. You can bet Ronaldo away from his own mirrors appreciates what Rooney did for him during that magical spell for United which pesky Barca apart, was as good as any in our history. Ronnie may well have won us many games, and he’s the best Utd player for ability and *it* that I have seen, but if we were in a hole, Rooney would be digging like fuck to get us out of it.


    He arrived half way through the ‘slump’ at Utd where we’d not won the league for four years and whilst some Reds doubted Fergie then, the ever re-ordered hampers of humble pie we regularly searched for online during Fergie’s many resurrections as shite tabloids split the Utd crest in half and talked of the fall of our empire, Wayne Rooney was one of the reasons we did return to the top. His goal return should have been higher then. 16, 14, 12 and 12 in those first four league campaigns highlighted his inconsistencies, still apparent, and how he always seemed to go on runs, and then not, of goals rather than a more natural beat. But then came 2008, and in 2009/10 and 2011/12 he was immense; 34 goals in each. And sometimes sacrificing himself not just with his workrate but with his body as he played when not fully fit or in the case of Bayern away, when clearly not able which was to cost him, us and England (not that many cared) that summer. I wanted more and thought we’d get it, but perhaps the injuries as much as the fags (both he and Bobby Charlton smoked so don’t tell the NHS, as pints and Chinese takeaways were taking their toll), and the goals started to dry up from 2011-12 around about the same time he started to control his aggression where, the odd red card (and what fucking what the FA were thinking of that one I still don’t know) apart we and he needed that rage; there is no greater tribute to him playing with a bit of the devil inside than that Newcastle goal as he barked at the ref, and then the ball, and then the back of the net felt all that anger.


    At Stoke away, in the dying embers of a Utd game as well as career, feeling unloved, but accepting his fate as he probably now sees what others could a year or two earlier, he didn’t do Giroud at Bournemouth and look for self gratification after the equaliser and record breaker. He looked to his team-mates to get the ball and try and get the winner. Cutting away from all the pub arguments and sometimes ridiculous social media bullshit about him, it was a man who had got Utd and wore it well. It was, still, great to see. One last splendid moment, possibly. An Evertonian who got United, that mentality. Imagine that. Not all players do, remember, or care as much. At Liverpool at home he came on, and gave Pogba, rightly so, shit for giving the ball away so carelessly. Pogba the man who has the world at his feet like he once did, hopefully takes on that kind of ‘advice’ for he’s good at that we hear. Good to gee up players.


    There was a period when Wayne Rooney turned up, and then you knew Utd would (and the stats that we have won 164 of the 189 games he scored in is quite remarkable) and for those questioning his body now, I prefer to reflect on that goal at Arsenal which showed the pace he did have, racing through, connecting to Nani’s speed alongside as Rooney rushes past him through the middle to receive the pass and for once Nani did the intelligent thing, lays it on and bang, it’s in at the Emirates. We were a joy to watch on the counter during that period. No team better at it.
    So some suggest he didn’t live up to the expectations, maybe we asked for too much (saw too much on the debut!) and if this isn’t reaching the heights then blimey, he didn’t do too bad did he?! After that four year toil, and Keane’s departure and all the shit we and Fergie went through, Rooney was at the core of a side who from 2006-07 won 5 out of 6 titles. For those who just see him as a ‘Scouse bastard’, who can’t see past that, this is perhaps the one example where I will say, look at the bloody stats, these are not alternate facts, they are one hell of a career.


    He became an easy target, and again, I’m not denying where once a big fan it pains me to watch such a decline, and I never thought it would take nearly 3 seasons to get the last 34 goals for the record, where he crawled to it like a boozer seeking his home after a night out, but that’s what happens when you watch from boy to man a player who has been here 13 seasons and like Fergie himself, and Ryan Giggs saw, you at times become too familiar with each other. He was shifted all over the place, he argues that affected his goalscoring and form, and affected his rhythm, and he has a point, but perhaps he was shifted too as he was no longer able to do what Zlatan has shown even at his age he can do well, put the ball in the back of net with a 1 in 2 ratio. His weight yo-yoed, poor from a professional. This talk of him moving to midfield also frustrated me. He might have the brain for it, but his legs don’t have the stamina or ability; he couldn’t do it at the top there.


    Certainly his power base in the dressing room became too strong and its hold meant that Moyes and LvG (of all people) never dealt with it head on, the painful truth that he was no longer the automatic starter he wanted to be. Maybe Jose gave him enough rope to hang himself with his own performances at the start of this season, maybe that was the intention or he discovered the man he had once courted at Chelsea was in decline, simply, the proof was in that performance at Watford away, a painful experience for both fan and player to witness.


    In the dressing room he was a force for good despite many rumours. For even with a disagreement, Marcus Rashford highlighted the importance of Rooney for Utd: “That reaction after the goal at Stoke is what we learn from the older players as well. He just broke the record, it’s an amazing achievement and he still wants to get the next goal, he’s not fussed about his goal. I think it does rub off on the other players and certainly the younger players.”


    Jose does realise what some Reds can’t. That as a sub he can still offer something these next few months. He scores irregularly but his assist rate is good this season, and he’s now in that awful island where so many can’t see any good no matter what he does, when that’s not quite fair even with this slide. He has kicked off in the past, but he’s handled this particul saga - in, out of the side, written off - without rocking the boat. Maybe he knows his footballing mortality now, but others would not be so forthcoming to accept their fate and at last it’s good to see an agent who was too manipulative in the past finally just give it a rest at the end here.


    For me there are three regrets. Some of what he did off the pitch, his ‘lifestyle’, his crass handling though Fergie’s reply was enigmatic and re-energised both men, and that his natural aggression and hump which drove him on declined for a few seasons near the end. But the good far outweighs the bad. He gave his all, worked tirelessly so the likes of Ronnie only need do that where they thought it mattered and he was the cog that got Utd clicking. The Captaincy didn’t propel him onto greater heights as it should, it seemed to signal a stagnation. This in itself seems mad but shows how high we thought he could go, that 250 goals, records for club and country, still sees this debate as if it wasn’t enough.


    Of course it’s horrible seeing a career come to its end, where it’s now China not Madrid he’s linked with, but I often say think what you’ll tell your grandchildren. We won’t tell them about Bebe when talking about Fergie the miracle worker, we’ll talk the great memories, and likewise with Wayne, we’ll smile at those moments we were lucky enough to experience in a grey, and now quite darkening, world. That hat-trick, Newcastle, the over head kick. You know them. The end should not define the middle and beginning, where his prime coincided with United’s renaissance not as a coincidence but as a result of his grit, determination and fucking plain stubbornness. He did that here, not elsewhere.


    I didn’t like some of what Wayne Rooney did away from pitch, I don’t like some of what I do away from the pitch, but I have read some ridiculous things about him. It’s just daft and wasted energy when there’s so many ABUs to direct it at. The hardest thing to do in modern football, strange when it has never been so full of creative players, well full of ego as much as ability, is to put the ball into the back of the net. Look how many toil across the world at it, or who look the part one year and then just falter the next. Rooney did the business for 10 out of his 13 seasons here.


    I’m so glad I got to see it. Here.


    Eyes are always drawn to the here and now but it should be about the whole. He chased lost causes, never gave up when others did, helped shape the best Utd team of its generation, and in an era when you question commitment, on the pitch he gave his all for a shirt that wasn’t his by birth. What a shift he would put in. Compare and contrast to the elegance of Berbatov, very much hit and miss for United, or RvP who only wanted to do it for a season. That was enough for him. Year after year, Rooney chased the lost causes with hunger. There are so very few like him.
    Let’s celebrate and for once not castigate. It’ll be a perfect time to part ways this summer maybe, because this sounds like an obituary for his time here, but I for one, will praise his achievements. Enjoyed him. Good or great is our pub debate, and we create them to bring life to life, together with wondering what might have been if he’d have lived his life with a more, er, Continental rather than Liverpudlian approach to his habits, but Manchester United, and us fans, yes, even the moaning ones, were fortunate to grab hold of this impudent, gifted, and unselfish youngster when Utd did.


    Well played, Wayne.


    Barney


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  • Red News
    replied
    Manchester United; crisis, moaners, perspsctive and patience. A Reditorial


    The Reditorial from RN237, published October 26th 2016


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    So where were you during the ‘Manchester United crisis of September 2016’ and how did you survive?


    As Danny Taylor has noted so well, after Fergie's press conferences started to be recorded for MUTV, so did many of the gems recede, give or take a few memorable encounters. But Fergie would always be of value facing the press. It won't make any top 10 but I always loved his comment in April 2008 after we’d lost to Chelsea and there’d been yet another over-reaction. Top of the league, European Cup Final ahead. The pause for, it’s a ‘disaster!’ was impeccable; the Genius of a man on the top of his game.


    I have been wary as you know of Jose and I still think it'll all go tits up prematurely, but that will be after an enjoyable ride and a good trophy or two and to be honest I like what I have seen so far. I still think this phase of the early Bruce Banner period when he is in two minds how to control his Hulk, is better off to just be who he is, but the Einstein throwaway was entertaining and picked up and eaten by a hunger press who sadly live only now on click bait to ease their famine.


    The man with the long hair, Einstein that is, not Fellaini, had a thing or two to say about stupidity. “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.” And I have to wonder if my age group is built for this even changing modern era of football life; 24/7, yet no more actual substance than 30 years ago, and maybe actually less.
    Social media has many benefits but it certainly doesn't seem to have made the many any happier and when I don't go to games the only thing the Internet tells me during Utd games is that it's a great psychological observation in the erratic and absurd. I now realise that there is a portion of people who are never going to be happy, especially about Manchester United. And the modern way is to moan. Big time. At games we see that if we dare to be 0-0 at half-time (and fuck me they had to get used to that under LvG), so the moronic booing as LvG lifted the FA Cup should not have surprised though he didn’t half depress.


    In a paradox of who is feeding who, press or punter, we must not forget that they have always been brutal fuckers - Alf Ramsey, Gazza, then and now, Bobby Moore and Brian Clough let alone Dave Sexton could testify to that - and when Utd lost at Soton 6-3 and Newcastle 5-0, Piers Morgan and cohorts made it, almost, a public holiday. But as Steve Black in UWS has noted, those seasons we won the league. When we beat Ipswich 9-0, we didn't. A solitary game in a season is just one piece of that puzzle. A tiny piece.


    So I remain baffled how just one defeat, however annoying in its wake, or God forbid three in a row can see such a meltdown that it makes grown adults act like my 15 month old. *Pogshit* actually became a hashtag during that week. Grown men. People lost perspective, forgot that however shite it felt after city, and however fluctuating the Bitters had been last year, they'd still been building half a side and reached the Euro Semis, rather than been on its knees with Moyes and LvG. Money spent by either across one summer is not a barometer, it's what you do with it and at Utd anybody thinking there was a quick fix after LvG had drummed the philosophy into them and drained the life out of them was not living in the real world.


    The real world. Ah, remember that? If Fergie saw empire crumbling crests and the like after invisible kits, the over-reaction, however disappointing, to a Utd defeat depresses me and it may seem surprising in a fanzine, powered by discontent but I half plead for our support to give its head a wobble to try and get a sense of perspective. Mainly twitter of course. However enjoyable, at times, much as entering a mad red light bar is at 3am you are also grateful to come our unscathed from it at 6am, both courted by proper loony tunes.


    We've all become too precious and this may surprise the GGMU nutcases but Alex Ferguson and Matt Busby lost games of football. Lots of them. Had bad patches, and even - yes even before forums, social media and phone-ins - received criticism at the games. It was not all a bed of roses and Utd’s successes skewed expectations so that by Fergie’s end even during periods of peak, people would over amplify their criticisms. We moaned during title winning seasons. We forgot the real world.


    The reality now though is worse at United; it’s football365 having a whole home page dedicated to us, SKY now creating some bizarre world of their own stat making - where duels and bravery is made up as a fucking stat! - and it makes me actually think where Utd are now concerned less is more. You end up wanting to avoid half this bollocks. Why the fuck should I care what some absolute moron thinks about our club?


    But it wasn’t just the bloggers. This was also well (well...) respected journos. @JBurtTelegraph: ‘Is Jose Mourinho up for the task at Man Utd or has game moved on without him?’ The Times told us, leaked by one of these shallow, pandered to sources in the dressing room that Jose was nastier than Fergie. It narrowed down the field of recent under performers granted but nastier than the boot throwing, motorway selling Jaap Stam tyrant who brutalised his early dressing rooms? Come off it. Report it, but do it without all the bullshit. We'll come to it if it's any good, and actually well sourced anyway. ‘Paul Parker says he is concerned about Jose Mourinho’. Can I say I'm concerned about what Paul Parker is saying these days? ‘Is Pep Guardiola's Success Exposing How Football Has Left Jose Mourinho Behind?’ We were five games - yes, five - into a season. Fuck me, we're inhabiting a world where only the previous 24 hours counts. How shallow. In a great example of how the press create a ‘narrative’ (sorry, shoot me now) to self fulfill, old hack @PeteSpencer007: “Bet Mourinho is glad next game is 'only' Watford. Needs win to settle nerves. Drums rumbling”. The drums were only of their making, well, that and the goofs online who have yet to see daylight and the great outdoors.


    Football violence moved from the terraces to the internet. Those violent fingers tap away their venom, unhappy with, well, pretty much everything it seems, misdirected and entranced like Peter Pan by bloggers and journos and clickbaits and websites that, even by their own plunged standards, seized on a bad week to hammer at Jose that even surprised us cynics who thought we’d seen it all before. There are certain terms we never had to deal with growing up ‘footballing narrative’, ‘source’, ‘5 things we…’. Players have ‘camps’. Everyone has become an all too precious whiner.


    I actually think Jose's comments about trying to get into the minds of the players blancmanged under LvG have been interesting. And spot on: “What is more difficult is that me and Mr van Gaal see football in a different way so it is normal in their football brains there are moments of contradiction between what they used to do and what I want them to do.” To alter that takes time; something few seem to want to give when it’s actually all we do have. But that sounds dull in this endless, repetitive shite that replicates the modern consumer culture in wanting it all, with no patience, but actually getting next to fuck all in return.


    Mourinho is not here to be nice. He’s here to be a nasty bastard, reign in a set of players who have consistently under performed for three years and the players might actually need hammering in public as it’s not worked in private. Don't fucking start a petition that you're unhappy Luke Shaw got criticised for not doing his job, or another ‘Petition to bring Bastian back into the first team’ which actually had 399 mentalists sign it. One of the best (worst) criticisms during that week was Jose can’t handle the pressure. Yep, of course, because managing Real Madrid is a fucking siesta on a beach. ‘Jose Mourinho should avoid ‘having a pop’ at Manchester United's young players as results falter, Stuart Pearce has told Sky Sports News HQ.’ Said the man who played David James up front for Manchester City. ‘Five things José Mourinho must do to stop the rot at Manchester United’ claimed Jamie Jackson as Jose sent him some champers as thanks as he hadn’t thought about that. ‘Has Jose Mourinho lost his magic? Mirror Football writers have their ...’ AAARGGGHHHHHHHH.


    Neil Ashton, who some regard as on the top of his game actually wrote the following: ‘Leicester, the champions, at home on Saturday lunchtime, already has the feel of a defining game for Mourinho.’ No, no it didn’t. It really did not.


    There is debate, constructive criticism to be had about United under Jose, what he has done so far and intends to do, but don't get carried away in the bullshit of people either there to hit a certain number of clicks to please their bean counters or those looking for high follower counts. United is much more enjoyable if you enjoy it how you want to. We don't want to lose. But we'll fucking cope when they do.


    It's not because we were shown five years into Fergie that patience pays, because we knew under Moyes it had to end as it was fucked, and we had to see it end under LvG because we all felt fucked. But if three games into the second month of Jose Mourinho's reign at Utd created such a maelstrom of shit you could power Sellafield on it, it's all fucked and you fear that now the once golden boy is at Utd, so he will be targeted.

    This isn’t holier than thou, I sulk way beyond my pay grade and years, and was gutted after City and Watford but there’s coming to Manchester United to enjoy yourselves, have a laugh and try and get what it’s all about - the most important non important thing in our lives - or just scowling away at everything and boiling piss and keyboards to strangers who may not even be who they say they are. A game is a solitary grain of sand in our fortunate lifetimes supporting the ups and downs of United. Shit, like sand, happens. With good Reds late in each night, who love the club but realise they will enjoy their time no matter what, the gloom did eventually cast aside like mist; I realised there is nothing I can do. No amount of moaning long into the night would alter the reality check.


    I have also been an idiot online. A while back with Mum in hospital and Dad poorly, my life at a strange crossroads as me and the missus entered a crucial stage of IVF I got too pissed one night and had a row with a stranger about Rio Ferdinand online. What the fuck was I doing?! I was staring into nothingness and the abysss was screaming back at me ‘you plankton’. I have tried to realise ever since, have a laugh, the odd moan, but if you turn into too much of a negative bad arsed fucker, switch the net/phone off.


    I have however always remained perplexed at those who scream the team is shite when it’s announced, whatever the XI, as Mystic Megs (as was shown at Anfield) they are not. The hostility at our starting team for our biggest game just does not make sense when surely it should just be a siege moment? ‘Come on United?’ The people at games, on the whole, seem to, despite all the shite, still be having a good time. The people online anything but. Or am I reading that wrong? But still it did not end. Straight after Anfield, a 0-0 that was actually tense and tactically enjoyable if short in actual action, the Telegraph leapt in the air wanting attention and clicks: ‘The last time Jose Mourinho had fewer points after eight games of the season he was manager of Uniao de Leiria.’


    Any talk of crisis after it or City was much more in the minds of a few repetitively posting individuals on twitter and forums and on cheap journalistic portable laptops than it was from most of the Manchester United supporters I spoke to, who, seemed level headed and realised that after three years of shite this may take time.


    After the three defeats we beat Northampton. Scored three. It wasn’t great nor was it bad. It was, well, a Cup tie. How strange! Yet the press didn’t like this. The Guardian dressed it down: ‘Marcus Rashford helps stuttering Manchester United beat Northampton’. For some fans and hacks, it still wasn’t enough.


    It never is.


    There was an edge to the reporting, old scores, it being Utd, it being Jose AND Utd and all those things. And I hope fans see through some of the very poor attempts at having a dig. It wasn’t constructive, it didn’t come with much perspective and it was done with a lot of poor quality journalism at its heart, sadly all too frequent in this vacuous world we live in. The garbage of transfer shite has spread to the actual games. Sad, really.


    I had doubts about Jose but remain convinced he’s the right man for right now. We can’t keep sacking them! Support and be patient and know there is always another game to put things right.
    And so it ever was with the modern Manchester United where fans move with the technological times, but might be better off if we didn’t. When winning is unenjoyable, we really need to take a breather from the hysteria that surrounds itself around United, particularly when we lose.
    It may not be that patience pays, but perspective certainly helps. Something that is sadly in short supply when it comes to the modern Manchester United.


    The Reditorial from RN237, published October 26th 2016


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  • Red News
    replied
    What the FA Cup means to me


    this was a longer piece I did for the series of FA Cup memories at http://thepeoplesperson.com/2016/05/...replay-147452/


    I think Reds of a certain vintage have a high regard for the FA Cup and rightly so.


    We know it wasn’t United who devalued it with the farce of the 2000 pull-out and with Semi Finals at Wembley and daft kick-off times, it’s importance in the world of a top four place eyed with more financial scrutiny has been skewed just a few decades on when the Cup Final was the prized finale of the season; cameras on team buses, all day coverage (all good until Jimmy Trabuck turned up) and the happy jigs with the top of the Cup for the winning team.


    In darker times for this team of ours we clung to the victories of ’77, ’83 and ’85, hoping for better, dreaming of better after ’90 and that we got. And then some.


    Whilst we demand better again now we shouldn’t cloud our enjoyment of an all too rare appearance for a trophy that did matter, should matter and hopefully will be the kickstart for this young squad, whatever the managerial question marks, to go on and eye bigger trophies.


    As we know, United is much more than the 90 minutes and yet it’s history runs parallel with your lives. You remember events and occasions around matchdays and seasons and the FA Cup provides an entertaining reflection on my life so far.


    Lucky enough to get to United games when I was 5 in ’76, in the struggle for Final tickets that mirrors today’s, I saw Mum and brother head off for the finals of ’76, ’77 and ’79 and jealously dreamt when it could be my turn. Watching events unfold on the tv I lapped up every single moment; daft suits and huge collars as the United players arrived, gave the pitch the once over and then were caught out by an offside decision against Soton, fulfilling Tommy Doc’s pledge on the balcony of Albert Square to 1000s of Reds still celebrating the achievement as he promised to win it the next year. That we did, sending those lucky enough to be there to a great place as we stopped Liverpool’s treble. In ’79 it was heartache. Such a strange, compelling game, all bottled up in its finale. So near, so far - cut the bloody cross out I still beg whenever their winner comes on. I had a Utd flag draped over me all day. And cried. This was hell. Summer ruined. Well, a good few days of sulking followed.


    And then ’83. Finally there. As we queued for Replay tickets at Wembley on the SUnday after the first game the pull of United obvious as the Brighton end queue was drwarfed by Reds around the ground buying tickets on general sale, and then canny enough to join the smaller queue and get for their mates. That was a great night. We could enjoy this one, we sang songs for Sir Matt watching on, ‘Stevie Foster, what a difference you have made’ and Robbo was at his brilliant best. Don’t forget Arnie Muhren too - so classy - and Gary Bailey had saved the day and had little to do on this night.


    In ’85 the Utd end was packed. Loads had got in. You didn’t think there would be room to celebrate Norm’s majestic winner but we did. One of our greatest Final goals, to be behind the goal as it curled in still remains high on my finest moments. I was with my Mum and we hugged and wondered if this side could finally deliver a title. We won the next ten league games. And then didn’t. That was awful, how did that team not go on? Big Ron was gone as a result the year after and Fergie arrived.


    We had to wait. We had to suffer. We even suffered during that 1990 Cup run as we only seemed to do it right on the Cup games - the aways, the great away ends - we did it the hard way and the Final was a belter. Stevie Coppell got his songs of appreciation but don’t beat us! A tight, tense Thursday Replay and then Lee Martin. Mark Robins and him then to thank for saving the day, from Forest to Oldham, you felt the name was on the trophy.


    And then it was a stepping stone. And then we actually did - finally - go on to better things.


    But the FA Cup still mattered. We chased Doubles. And got them. 1994 I always thinks doesn’t get enough recognition as it was probably one of our most clinical displays - Chelsea pre Roman were slaughtered in the rain, Eric had a field day. Paul Ince inspired.


    We’ll ignore the loss of ’95 and then ’96 - oh that felt good. It was the day I felt we’d really knocked them off their perch. They were gutted. Fergie had done them good and proper with the mind games, they melted in their suits and I still don’t know how Eric got that goal in, especially past Ian Rush’s nose. The celebrations that night in the West End of London, from the Kennedys Hotel at Euston to the West End of London were as good as any during those 90s.


    1999 was more workmanlike, before the real dreams were sealed a few days later. But it felt great to get it down, and see Shearer mope. And 20 of us headed to Spain for the time of our lives. I stood with Mum on the third tier of the Nou Camp and saw something that still defies logic. Top of the world; the FA Cup was huge for that season, even though two bigger trophies came as part of it.


    The move to Cardiff was welcome and enjoyed. Transitions came again and we took 2004, and spat out 2005 summing up an awful few days with the Glazer takeover. Awful way to lose; awful period.


    And then Chelsea ended a modern run and we had to wait. And wait.


    Sadly Mum is no longer with us. I now have a son too young to attend, too young to appreciate any of this.


    But my United is family, mates, life lived, enjoyment, and not disowning any good times as if they are beneath us. The FA Cup mattered during barren times and also during the best of Fergie time.


    Absence made the heart grow fonder with the Semi, and that winner, but we’ll make the most of the Final because after a shit few years it will feel good.


    We’ll demand more, and better but we’ll know Manchester United and the FA Cup have history, and it’s why we do, and should respect it and that.


    Some of my greatest moments as a Red have come at Wembley, icing on the cake or hoping for more. Norman, Robbo, Eric; heroes provide and whilst the ground itself isn’t anything like it’s hyped to be, its history is. It’s special even when others have tried to lessen that. It’s an actual occasion rather than a £ sign on a balance sheet.


    I can’t wait for the day I get to take my son to an FA Cup FInal and continue the tradition; because for United fans the FA Cup Final is a welcome tradition.


    (So long as we win it.)


    Barney, May 2016


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  • Red News
    replied
    What has become of our football club; the Editorial from RedNews232


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    “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our Number One priority, success on the pitch” Ed Woodward, Feb. ‘16.


    Bloody hell, as I write this in the hours after the defeat to whatevertheyarecalled, the worst performance out of Denmark since Brigitte Nielsen went on Fantasy Football pissed, Louis van Gaal, somewhat amazingly, is still in his job. Forget putting him out of his misery, it’s ours that is needed.


    I’m sure that it won’t be far away and he will be well looked after, and whilst I have nothing against him bar an annoyance at his ego and resistance to solve what were pretty consistent and clear repetitive problems, I have a lot against his football. He’s being seen and treated as a lame duck and Utd are all but playing him now which does not reflect well on them either; after all that talk of succession planning, we’ve stumbled right back into a DeLorean into the post-Busby era with all the mistakes, skulduggery, politics and cockhanded decision making that took years to clear up. Fucking hell. It’s a disaster lads and I am worried there is not an instant cure.


    It should have happened after Stoke away, when he looked like the team; beaten. He offered it we are told, yet Ed said he was needed as any change wouldn’t alter the course of the season. Er, it got worse. And yet after Soton, nothing. Sunderland, nada. After this, nothing. Only in the fatelines of fanzine deadlines will he get the sack as we’re at the printers. Only the US Presidential nominations seem to be as boring, and take as long, as Louis van Gaal’s inevitable final act. Does he have selfies on Ed or something?


    Ed has delayed, and the football team and our season has suffered. They get rid of Paul McGuinness, well regarded, over results and direction, and kept LvG after each disaster. Work that one out. The best football we’ve played all season is under Warren Joyce for Under-21s. What does that say about Louis van Gaal’s team a level above. Well, he thought two wins over Stoke and Derby were “sparkling football’. “I think people are a little quick to forget that we have been first in the Premier League this season. ” We were top months ago, we got a round further in the League Cup; brilliant, bring out the champers. Fuck me, what do Wings put in his soup?


    A defeated man. After Sunderland he just looked the condemned. The most bizarre logic as was used with David Moyes appears to be wait until we mathematically don’t make the top four and then change it rather than knowing with him we won’t, and see if another will cause an upturn in fortunes instead of it being too late. Clearly good at commercial deals, that is where their talents rests, because we see little of it on the football side as Fergie’s magic highlights the dismantling of what he left behind every single day since 2013. There’s is loyalty to your manager, and then there is insanity (which is also the act of LvG’s teams trying to do the same things over and over again with the same disappointing results. He wanted their brains to work, yep, brazen stupidity as results suffered).


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    The next man is for another day. To dissect where he’s gone wrong, now. For starters I believe he was one big contrary fucker as he wanted one last proof of his self diagnosed genius. He has no ties to Utd bar the job title, so he could at a whim attempt the baffling to see if he was as good as he thought, no real concern how this job will look on a soon redundant cv, as the wine consumption helped cloud the reality. It became a joke; Phil Jones taking a corner, confusing decisions, subs that never worked (or made sense) whilst producing an annoyingly repetitive catch all that it was all - anything - part of the ‘process’. As we got back in the CL, with more games, yet he chose less players in his squad. A fraudulent Emperor declothed, he decided to play this season with two .75% strikers, a young Anthony Martial and a confused but less angry looking Wayne Rooney. It was madness and he may well have thought ‘look at me when it all comes off’. He probably still backs himself. Instead we looked at him with growing dismay. He was trying to be too clever; luck stayed with him a fair bit but after all that time, all those 0-0 half times and possession - we probably have 5 games to look back at with any fondness - Martial debut, Rooney and Mata at Anfield, isolated moments in what were very few, if any truly outstanding games in a process and philosophy era that made no sense. One shot on target a theme. A game! Maybe he just got kidnapped at half-time at Leicester away last season and replaced by a drone, that flamboyant approach of Di Maria, Falcao and RvP running at them a bizarre exception to his rigid rule. He certainly did drone on. First there was the frozen one, then came the dull one, the Dutch Dave Sexton. Where his press conferences became more exciting and appealing than the football.


    As Utd’s manager conceded the chance of making top four. In mid February, the decline we all feared and warned against, suddenly keeps hitting us in the face and we appeared more L4 0TH than M16 0RA. This season it’s like the party we helped plan year after year has torn up our invite and every fucker is laughing his head off through the window as we keep banging into the door, blind.


    I’m sure he’ll enjoy his life in Portugal, and Ed will give him a warm send off. He may leave Carrington with his Sbenu shoes, our official casual footwear partner for South Korea, with a voucher to cheer him up from IVC, our official wellness partner for China as Banif Bank, the official partner for Malta, bank the compensation. He can take a holiday and gamble some of it with Donaco, the official casino resort partner for Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and South Korea and that well coiffured hair will always look in place with some Unilever, the official male shampoo partner in Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

    If the football team had a quarter of the attention all this nonsense does, we’d be pissing it lads. It’s clearly depressing and with a thick skin that even a severe Cushing's syndrome sufferer would be impressed at, Utd announce each new one with joy even during our moist miserable of weeks. You think someone pr savvy would say ‘hang on lads, let’s delay this today’.
    On the football pitch the stats are so damning, there’s no point repeating the sham of lack of goals, wins, shots, anything resembling attacking football and if for Moyes we can say his nadir was Fulham at home then for Louis it was Crystal Palace where there was the first murmurings of mutiny to ‘give us a goal’. It went unheeded, the players sank into their shells and worse still just went through the motions, and because of the mess around and above them will get away with it again during the managerial change as they talk such platitudes I feel like their bounce back talk could be the only robotic drill they’ve actually remembered from this shambles of a year. He had such sycophants around him nobody was telling him the truth. “In England, it is more the result than performance, only when Scholes started he influenced a certain amount of fans.” No, we were clued up last season and concerned about the state of your football, hoping after a season of achieving an all too low target of 4th, you’d be bolder with your football. The minute talk was of 4th as a target, United were helping to ruin Fergie’s work. Where money finally got spent, after we failed rather than reacted to prevent failure.


    When Captain and manager admit, and not in isolation, that Sunderland of all teams have more hunger and aggression, Ed should have stepped in there and then to try and salvage the season. Instead the man ever eager to tell us which marquee signing we’ve got no chance of making decided to turn his phone off. I said Moyes shrunk in the job, and whilst the same can’t be said of van Gaal’s head or ego, the rest of him has shrivelled into those inedible prunes at Xmas that you want to stop looking at and keep asking why are they still there. Finally you realise they are out of date and bin them, saying ‘never again’. LvG is the man who steadied the ship and then ran it aground. And this Captain was going to go down with it; so he refused to leave.


    But it’s not all Louis van Gaal’s fault you know, nor was it David Moyes’. Whilst both are targeted for criticism, the men behind the scenes continue to get off lightly.


    But this is reaping what the money men did sow. Many of us angered at the Glazers, depressed at where Utd are off the pitch know these truths; we became customers instead of supporters and the priority for them is the commercial side, however much they dress it up in pathetically oiky conference calls. They can’t admit that of course, but the nonsense press releases that rain down on us more than Manchester rain just confirm it. 4th our target for the money, not the football. Less football men at the club, less Utd fans, less people that really care ahead of carting about their own personal ambitions ahead of the club itself meaning short term greed and exploitation causes no long term planning, consistency and a mess all of their own making so that the worst ABU in the world couldn’t have fucked up MUFC since 2013 any better. Ed’s picked two belters to start his own regime. Due diligence should have identified both for their consistent traits; they mock us fans and say we should leave it to them. That we did, and look at this bloody mess.
    I’ve seen a lot in the past 40 years but the defeat in Denmark really got to me. I wasn’t there, sober, not paying £71. So I should be beyond ranting to a seven month old who just stared at my impressions of Mata shirking a tackle and Giggs and Louis van Gaal sat next to each other speechless like Easter Island statues. Look, I know people find these Eds depressing, trust me,


    I’d much rather be talking about Eric, of ’99, of happy shite like I tell young Albert about the ethos, the soul of United that is all that is great and why we love the club, but it’s being fucked about, has been for well over 10 years, and Fergie’s magic has worn away and in its place has come the pure rampant capitalism that has proved so costly when it sees Utd as digits rather than story makers. Ed’s blunt ‘baseline’ was that even if unsuccessful, the club were assured we’d still sell more shirts, here and in Asia. When the football side of things is taken so much for granted that they admit that success almost doesn’t matter, the fools running the show have taken charge and smeared shit in the fridge. Fergie fumes. For all accusations, some warranted, of his greed, he helped make Utd into a giant once again, and he’s slowly seeing the men he instantly distrusted but kept his counsel about dismantle that. It’s a shambles and it’s almost hard to believe and credit how it’s unravelled so quickly. Well done Ed and Arnold, you’ve achieved in 1000 days what Scousers dreamed of over 10,000.


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    Manchester United eye finances more than its football, and in Ed, what did people really expect? A JP Morgan man who helped circumnavigate the ‘debt is the road to ruin’ brigade and become their man on the inside, as Fergie and Gill were eventually shoved to the outside, the very men, for better and sometimes worse, who kept things tight, and afloat. We haven’t only started a decline since 2013, Fergie’s magic covered the charade even with ‘value’ but with a debt over a decade old that still is only halved and owned by a family who don’t even visit our club yet rinse it for its partners. Louis Edwards’ rotten meat pies are a million miles from this lot.


    Sponsors are aware of this talk from us though, they don’t like their brands tainted nor associated with crap. adidas spoke out knowing full well the weight of even one line of lowkey criticism. A stand of K Standers aghast at the football means fuck all to the Gimps compared to one man in Germany. Modern football that.


    Top four is the Manchester United target now, just three years from it being top or anything else not worth talking about, just all the while keep those tills rolling. That’s where performance matters in Florida. We’re a spreadsheet not a fucking football club anymore. So perhaps we should think why there is more venom aimed at an old bloke out of his time and surprisingly out of his depth at a Utd in the hotbed of the PL, than Ed Woodward, with not even a song aimed his way, or at any of them for several years. Like Kenyon before him, he’s just a different bald guy in the same suit, spinning plates for the other guys, making out that he’s United, when profit is their only love. “This continued financial strength will enable us to compete at the highest level.” Have you looked at the table the last three years?


    Change will come, but not, also, any change. In a tiny box in the Cayman Islands (c/o Walkers Corporate Services, Walker House, 87 Mary Street, George Town, Grand Cayman, KY 1-9001, Cayman Islands to be precise) which the Glazers have used to call an official banking home, the figures will boast yet more success and Ed will spin to investors who don’t give a fuck like you or I.
    Back in Manchester, Stretford ignored for Shanghai, Manchester United fans stopped asking long ago what became of our football club (even those very words withdrawn from sight), now they just ask what will still become of it whilst these men exploit it for greed.


    From RedNews232 Mag subs at http://www.rednews.co.uk/subscription.php

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  • Red News
    replied
    Reditorial - The average age at Old Trafford is too high and more needs to be done to get more youngsters in


    When Alex Ferguson finally knocked Liverpool off their perch with his penultimate title making it 19, and a full two years before scaffold Reds meant anything but those working on them, he said after chanting ‘Are you Watching Merseyside’ on the top deck of the bus of the 2011 parade around Manchester that: “What it shows is fantastic loyalty, The number of children, kids sat on their fathers’ shoulders, that’s the future of Manchester United. Young people.”


    Four years on and the average age of Season Ticket holders at Old Trafford does not represent that; when this fanzine first started it was in the mid 30s, in the 2000s it was 40s, then the MEN last May claimed it as 52. 52!


    We’re getting old. And our support is getting disjointed, and fractious, and well less United together. And whilst we have a right to go ‘til we stop, as I don’t think anyone has yet suggested euthanasia to our support once they cross into middle age, it creates its own problems, the failings of nurturing youth to replace Reds gone and keep that average down, and old age naturally suppressing the youthful enthusiasm that propelled us into so many famous Old Trafford atmospheres. Of course the list of reasons for all this grow; terraces gone, it now a distant fading memory of people queuing with their mates paying fuck all to get onto terracing and have a bounce. It can be being slightly annoying to those younger to hear how much better it was in the old days (and some memories can play tricks, people were dying in that era after all just going to a match, a lot of it was better but not all), but it was easier for young and old to do football in the manner they so wished.


    Older Reds would either stay put, or some saw an unwritten rites of passage; stand, sit, then move regressively through the alphabet so you’d maybe start off in J and K Stand and somehow end up in A as you approached pensionable age. Age can also play another trick, with humour as, even if not to you, it can make some people, well, a bit miserable and moany. Some go because they feel they have to, rather than want to. Some do nothing but moan at the match, and away from it. Moan over parts but it - this - has got to be positivise experience. When Fergie said on his latest latest book tour about now watching games: “I think the media hoped they would catch me acting like Statler or Waldorf, the two curmudgeons in the Muppets, who are always criticising what is happening on the stage”, at some Utd games it feels as though OT is now full of Statler or Waldorfs.


    Now I can remember title years greeted with a bit of the larynx movement being used for the negative chords rather than the positive and it is easy to say being younger changes all that; but I’d suggest there is also a chord that United’s ageing support has become a bit stale and needs a bit of a younger kick up its collective arse by the adidas wearing schoolkids now being tempted, sadly, by city. I don’t mean to arrive at United aways and pour beer over each other, in the old days respected Utd heads would have had a word for a sea change there, but I fear Utd just do not get that more needs to be done to stop ‘them’ from challenging Utd’s city wide dominance. Because whilst your sons and daughters will stay Red, there are swathes of those without like minded parents to show them a path, and the Blues know that, and are trying to seize a long waited opportunity. It might not be in 1000s, but it is in 100s.


    Unused tickets could be used for starters. The ACS started as optional, and should not now be seen as a tax where like HMRC, Utd send us reminders with glee about next game charges even before we’ve won this game (so that the likes of the Mail then have a field day when this arrogance does come a cropper). Some Reds remain in the ACS but don’t attend midweek Cup games. That always strikes me as a missed opportunity that there are empty seats for League Cup games because people don’t want to opt out and lose away applications (which I can understand), or Cup ticket priority for big games, but their unused tickets can’t be used for good. So in affect Utd are encouraging nobody to fill a seat to see the team play. I always feel sad a youngster can’t have it in some new system. Instead we are faced with unenviable sight of lots of empty seats at some midweek Cup matches. Every missed seat is a missed opportunity in my eyes and not in the spreading the brand suit attitude, for it having been sold seems to have seen the club avert their gaze; surely a way could be contemplated where those seats could be filled? And not only that, for the 1000s of seats that do go free, unsold; say North Tier 3 closed for Boro, why not just fill it with local school kids, the future rewards and possibilities not really needing to be spelt out. The club say that they do get offered, but that means schools and willing teachers (who usually pay £20 and the kids a fiver) making an effort; Utd should be more proactive and not just find the schools but encourage them, take them if needs be to games. Do more.


    Of course city are only offering discounted tickets because they have those famous empty seats but Reds might be a tad premature to mock city for wide ranging reductions in prices, for kids especially, the joke might be on us as Utd seem unwavering in realising the missed opportunities they make on certain issues and keeping a lot of prices high and inaccessible. There have been positives, fivers for League Cup matches for under-16s and the work the Foundation does across town, but I fear Utd think they have community based projects sorted with that when more is needed than the positive work going into schools and colleges.


    I’d go further still. A section should be provided in the ground if not then for pay on the gate, for younger Reds - say 12-18/19 - to make their own. It can’t be right that the Family Stand with all its very young associations be seen as the only section for younger Reds, and whilst again discounted tickets are now more readily available, if I wanted to eventually take my son to games, it could not be in K unless I paid full price at any age, the rules say it has to be in the Gods. Even if there are spaces Utd will not countenance junior Season Tickets in certain areas, which seems madness. There might be short term profit loss but you are again nurturing Reds who will be with them, hopefully, for a lifetime. It should not be about profit ratios per seat.


    United were quick to boast in the recent Fans Forum that domestic rights are up 70% in the next tv deal, so neglecting or prohibiting younger Reds from mixing with mates or family seems less business important than ever. United seem to take for granted that when we do eventually die off, we can and will be replaced, but fall short of making the real effort to ensure this. Many die-hard Reds have stopped going, they feel neglected or fell out of love with the changes to the United they knew; can Utd really guarantee that their next generations will pick up the bug so easily, when they are seldom treated with the encouragement they not only deserve, but will need to ensure so that our future really is in safe young hands.


    The PL as a whole has a problem attracting youth, at decent prices and value; I myself would like to add the likes of Richard Scudamore to the sewerage in which Blatter and Platini are now drenched but Utd and the other 19 clubs are happy to flirt and then embrace the status quo because that’s what has made them all, to varying degrees, very rich. The bubble has long been expected to burst, but it never gets near to a pin. That may well change when those average ages rise even higher; it’s, sadly, called life. Where is the noise at most grounds bar for goals? Grounds don’t bounce, they buckle at older men sitting back down in their seats. Told to remorsely by stewards with no common sense, on minimum wages, the PL very well branded, but just not as fun as it should be or they think it is. The PL in their annual survey this month were full of their usual self gratifying bullshit: “The Premier League also noted that the average adult fan age has now decreased to 41, and that 40 per cent of match attenders in 2014/15 were 18-34 years old.” That 18 year olds are bunched in with 34 year olds says it all on ages.


    One RN reader complained when he wanted a ST with his son, but not in Tier 3: “It is a shame and, in my opinion, short sighted to make it so difficult for an U16 supporter to become a ST holder. Any incentive for a ST is undermined by the fact that junior priced tickets can be bought anywhere in the ground as a member yet STs are severely limited. It gives the perception that the club doesn't really want junior ST holders and the reduced revenue they bring. Given the ageing support base at OT, junior ST holders are the future support and revenue for the club. To overlook his support isn't just the cash for the season ahead, he is a potential ‘customer’ for the next 40+ years. Even for members, the club cashed in this season by selling the entire season upfront which counters the purpose of membership for many supporters, particularly youngsters, who cannot afford that upfront outlay (in effect turning membership into a League Match Ticket Book). I just think it is a shame that junior tickets are so limited and hope that one day the club doesn't rue that policy when there is a lack of regular match going fans coming through to replace the current ST holders. I feel strongly that the youngsters coming through are so important to our future support.’


    The response from United: “The reason we only offer the Under 16 concession in the Family Stand or Tier 3 is because we aim to keep our younger fans together in an attempt to keep them in a more family orientated environment as other areas of the stadium and have been deemed unsafe…. our aim is to keep our younger supporters together and if we offered them all of the stadium then this means we may put our younger supporters at a greater risk. ” Modern football that eh. I’d argue those who give Utd its safety certificates would surely dispute any area at all at OT is ‘unsafe’ but it seems another example of finding an excuse when there need not be. It should not be Tier 3 or Family Strand, or else. Our reader replied: ‘my son regularly attends OT as a member in various parts of the ground, so the safety issue doesn't reconcile with the fact you can sit anywhere as a member but not as a ST holder (plus it was suggested that I buy a pair of adult priced tickets which further contradicts the safety argument in that it's safe if he pays an adult price) I find it hard to accept him being excluded as a junior when on the other hand being offered the chance to buy adult priced STs.’ Utd argument, meet massive holes. The final email exchange saw Utd explain: “the pricing structure and concessionary policy is set by the board.” In their lofty towers.


    Time changes, granted, it was no doubt health and safety that saw stewards told the unwritten ‘wink’ rule of taking really young Reds in between the turnstiles to go with you in your seat has changed and must be stopped. The family club became a dysfunctional ageing Utd, moaning and griping without the natural process that had, generally stood it in good stead, handed down by generations rather than that umbilical process yanked here and there and the half and half brigade grab what’s left. Old Trafford used to feel like it was all our home, now it can feel like we are tenants abused by a greedy landlord.


    Old Trafford is a big ground. No shit sherlock. But I find it sad that Utd don’t seem to find it big enough to make bigger strides and statements. Be the first, in adopting and challenging on safe standing, and realising the youth of tomorrow in our ranks might not be there unless you encourage now. Find space. It has worried me for years now, and all the time our body clocks tick and the average age at Old Trafford grows. It used to be the joke ‘don’t get old’, you could reflect that at United, ‘don’t be young’.


    At the Fans Forum meeting Woodward was asked: ‘It appears City are running riot through all the schools in the Manchester area, giving out free tickets, gifts, training kits, interacting with the kids of the future, i.e. easy access to the players, are we doing similar things to counteract this?’ The answer concerned the admirable Foundation work, but ignored the as important part about tickets and real interaction, not for the few, the ones whose Daddys can afford to be different, but the whole. They are the ones who will and could reenergise the ground, who make noise, and make it livelier. Utd should be for all. One day they could look as life impedes on our 50+ season tickets and reflect that greater accessibility for all when it was possible and available might have been long term sense over a suit somewhere arguing of its short term folly.


    Barnsley away, tomato ketchup might have grabbed the headlines for a few acting up, but an end that bounced. It’s there. It’s just not fed enough. And ask any of them do they feel the club goes any way, let alone out of its way, to entice, embrace or elevate them? Allowing a few banners in on a match day doesn’t really count does it? The atmosphere can still be good, I bloody hope it is today, and I am not dare suggesting those of us the wrong side of, ahem, 39 should give our places up. But what comes in our place when we no longer attend has to be given greater consideration and encouragement than at present where I fear Arnold and Woodward, because of the Foundation work, think they are doing enough. It is city with all their bullshit and unintentional and intended humour, but, sadly, I don’t think we can take for granted what happens and what they do anymore. Utd have taken their eye off the ball because to them it feels as though Shanghai matters as much, if not more so, than Stretford. I am proud of United’s worldwide appeal, that people have been travelling to see United with that same fervour from near and far for years and years, but it should not be an either, or, at any expense. That Utd’s local kids feel alienated from the very club on its door step. However modern, a 76,000 capacity ground can surely still find space for a good few young Reds and run with it. Be brave.


    Richard Arnold when clearly getting jealous of Rio’s large spam head and announcing - stop the clocks people - United’s ‘First Official Leisure Headwear Partner of Manchester United’ said in his cheesy way: “Manchester United’s success is built on the support of its fans.’ If only you really felt the suits meant it. Everything for sale, for a price, but the soul and foundations of the club, I fear, being ignored, taken for granted. That freshness that is needed, generally disregarded.


    Manchester as any fool apart from the deluded divs know is Red. But Manchester needs to stay Red and the club needs to, no has to, do more. Ed Woodward recently said: “It is important that football reflects the feelings of the communities in which it is based.” As ever Woodward, actions>words. Less soundbites.


    Fergie starts his latest book. “As the years have gone by, my appreciation for youthful enthusiasm has grown. Young people will always manage to achieve the impossible. If I were running a company, I would always want to listen to the thoughts of its most talented youngsters, because they are the people most in touch with the realities of today and the prospects for tomorrow.” Sadly his United ignore its next generation because they took for granted this one. I hope that changes. I hope they do what Fergie asks then; listen. And then get that average down.






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  • Red News
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    A tribute to the departing Brian McClair and a look at a quite incredible 1997/98 season for United.


    From the Red News Editorial of RN224.


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    By my maths (though it took two O’Levels to pass that subject, young readers please Grant Shapps, I mean wikipedia, O’Levels), Brian ‘Choccy’ - cos it sounds like Eclair - McClair has been at Manchester United, man, player and coach, for nearly every month of the past 28 years bar one year or so, give or take 11 appearances at Motherwell and that role as Assistant to Kiddo at Blackburn.
    Whereas Fergie couldn’t forgive the other Brian for reasons still but speculated, but surely not just suggesting we sign John Hartson, however madcap an idea, this Brian returned to Old Trafford with warmth as youth team coach which became reserve team manager which became Director of the Manchester United academy nine years ago. That will all end when he heads North to support the SNP ruling the country by proxy. Or something.


    We interviewed McClair last week for the next mag, our last of the season and what will be his last weeks at United. It’s lighthearted and upbeat, but I felt saddened realising a long term link to old/our United, once ridiculed for being the first son of Fergie before Fletch, is at an end. Considering when we first got to interview Fergie over breakfast in Scandy land pre-season of ‘87 that he was almost splattering his cornflakes over us with anger at what Celtic wanted for him, which had to be settled by a tribunal, I think we got a good deal. And then some. A bargain set at £850,000. And of course he also broke that 20 league goals a season hoodoo which cursed many a United striker; though typically, never gets mentioned for any other club since.


    Moved to midfield which affected his dynamic but which helped that of the team, he was a very good striker who was a very decent Manchester United footballer. He sort of helped steer the club through its final years as a troubled league chasing side, and left when it had smashed through that first league title and never looked back, unrecognisable from that which he had joined. And he also had a very catchy song. For a time he really was here and there.


    And it got me thinking of Kosice when he was nearing the end, we could all see it but we were winning comfortably enough in a tiny town to have some fun and change every single Utd song of the time into one about McClair; so he was ‘running down the wing’, ‘what a Friend we had in Choccy’, and ‘Choccy’s fucking magic...’


    In fact that 1997-98 one is a very forgotten season in the Utd memory banks, probably because we won fuck all and you’d rather erase them from the memory banks (our grandchildren won’t pay much attention to these last two bar the different managers listed). But whilst its end was one to forget, and Fergie only felt it worthy of 3 pages in his first autobiography (the good one), looking back that was one that deserves a bit more respect. And clearly laid a lot of acorns for the Treble that was about to put that whole era in the shade.


    It would be disrespectful to suggest McClair's departure that summer of 1998 would lead to Dwight Yorke easing into his spot in the squad but Fergie saw enough from the one point loss to the emerging Arsenal (Wenger’s first title) and yet another infuriating European elimination to a team, Monaco, we would beat on paper but who would haunt us on grass, as Barnsley in the FA Cup completed that particular treble, of failures.


    David Beckham's ridiculous circle from national zero to hero was yet to start as an effigy in a shit part of London after France '98, the failed SKY bid was but an office conversation in one of Rupert Murdoch's many offices and a leather jacket clad John Gregory had yet to threaten to shoot Dwight Yorke if he made his move to United, but there was a drama in our failure that season before.
    Teddy Sheringham felt a tortured soul as he struggled to replace Eric (who could?), telling RN after one of his droppings that ‘I’m down, it’s tough’. He'd have a point to prove the next season too and whilst Andy Cole did his bit with 25 goals, our other trio that season would not be half as dynamite as the next year with Ole on 9 and Sheringham on a half decent debut 14 but criticised. Scholes was more up front than deep with 10 and McClair’s last season saw him more deep than up front but without a single mini clenched fist goal celebration of his, though 14 of his 20 appearances came as a misspent sub.


    What we were though was a team, one that was fast developing from not winning anything with kids to progressing as men, and whilst we were trying to find the right formula post Eric with 30 men used, we had some very grand moments. We beat Juve 3-2 in a forgotten belter in October and in a spell that at other clubs would probably warrant eight books or something (for finishing second, cough), we later that month went on a run that saw us beat Barnsley 7-0 at home, and Sheffield Wednesday 6-1 just a week later. We were often scoring six was the joke that week* (*could have done with some work, clearly), and we trotted off to Feyenoord and scored another three with Cole's second hat-trick in three games. That game gets more remembered for the violence, on the street before the game with a huge Utd turn out and at the end of the game with Fergie's verbal onslaught to Paul Bosvelt after that tackle on Denis Irwin. “You scumbag, you ratbag, you dirty bastard”. The Pogues used it for inspiration for Fairytale of New York.


    We scored 33 goals in 8 games. That’s United lads. That was Fergie's United who didn’t give a shit for a good few years. A cracking Cup tie at Stamford Bridge saw us hammer Chelsea 5-3. It was an era when sides weren’t concerned with possession, just with trying to score. It fitted perfectly for the emerging United squad under a more confident, success bolstered, Alex Ferguson.


    We had Ole when the title was drifting out of sight after Arsenal had beaten us at OT in a must win game, selflessly take one for the team by taking out Rob Lee as last man back against Newcastle and receive a bollocking off of Fergie and a standing ovation from Old Trafford as he rushed down the tunnel. Only Ole could see his reputation throb after a red card. There was Roy Keane's crucial cruciate injury at Elland Road in an ‘incident’ with Alfie Haaland that was to have far reaching consequences with future red cards, tackles, injuries, lies and books. Schmeichel rushing forward against Arsenal as we chased the game, having to rush back and the big daft sod doing his hamstring, so that we faced Monaco in the 2nd leg without him, Giggs whose own hamstrings were at their twinging worst, and a European defeat that hit us if not as hard as Dortmund the previous season, then one that caused a rethink on strengthening up top.


    It was the first season post-Cantona, so no wonder we found it tough, as much psychological as anything, especially for love sick fans.


    Fergie had wanted Ronaldo (the one who became fat but was good), Batistuta (one of many times) and Desailly but blamed Utd’s salary structure. He took United and Martin Edwards to the brink to demand we go the extra mile to Villa Park to get the player who wasn't quite the missing link, but filled the spaces. And even in a season that failed to deliver, there had been enough fascinating sub-plots to fill at least half an ed 17 years later!


    So McClair departs and the only link from that United, visible link that is, and I don't mean as United Ambassador forced to smile cheesily with travelling Fred the Reds and fake Premiership trophies, will be Nicky Butt and Giggs, who despite rumours of uncertainity and friction says to certain mates he’s happy and he’s been privately reassured that he will be given the job once van Gaal's philosophy class (hopefully masterclass) is over. It will be some gamble, but it can work, as we look to the Pep project at Barcelona. We can't say we want United to have a model in place so old familiar faces rather than the likes of bullshitters like Peter Kenyon or even Ed Woodward can occupy the key positions at all levels of United without making the first tentative steps in this strange post-Fergie world of upholding the traditions which he'd upheld from Sir Matt and had sort of been forgotten, ignored and displaced in the years between them.


    That is for another day, but as we traipsed home from the final (league) game at a relegated Barnsley, with only 3 of the Treble first XI starting, we had no idea what a year and 16 days would bring. You build on success and failures and it is good to hear that United realise whilst the ship has been stabilised and the waters look a hell of a lot calmer since floated away, that we must not get carried away, there is still much work to do. To improve.


    We’re told Woodward is beaming, him and Dicky Arnold tucking into their cakes excitedly about their future plans, both profit and transfer, and he keeps mentioning to sponsors and smarmies that something big, again, is about to happen ‘in the market’. The gamble is DDG possibly going the other way, or that way at least, so you hope any show stopper negates the possible loss of the shot stopper. But we're excited again, and that is no bad thing. But whilst we eye the Bales and Ronaldos, it is, with the benefit of the hindsight, the names that at first may surprise or just the worker bees that are vital to our bigger success. Few could have thought that Cole, Sheringham, Yorke and Ole could have made such sweet music in their multiple permutations. Whilst on paper our current strikeforce was supposed to be as eagerly anticipated, that paper has been crumpled up by rocky patches, scissors of surgery and, sadly, old age. The strikers who can bag the 20 goals are the names you want, rather than just being names.


    The past makes us and makes this United. The past can teach us invaluable lessons. And at the very worst, even during our downers, we still have more fun, and usually see more, than the rest of the miserable bastards out there. You'd have thought it was us about to welcome the title judging by the bouncing Utd fans in the pubs around Earl's Court after the loss at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea, the modern ones of course, seemed all glum faced, deserving of their football, win at any cost, when, usually, Utd want to win but do it a certain way. And Utd fans, generally, know how to do this supporting lark and how to enjoy it. Method and madness. With a team rather than a few individuals.
    We would be well placed to find another Choccy, head down, shunning limelight and big star status but who help you achieve results and success, the likes of Michael Carrick for example, for it’s players like them which don't just litter Utd’s history, they help make it and then shape it. History records not just the success, but the men who helped make it. And attention should be paid also to any barren years for what we did to alter that course and you hope in LvG's dossiers he has the sudden spark of eureka that Fergie could always pull out of his pocket, like that summer of 1998 (and ‘87) where he only had transfer ideas and a World Cup summer column in the Sunday Times to ponder his next, vital moves.


    Choccy was one small but important cog in the modern United, whose signing was vital to Fergie's early silverware, which is why Fergie was so determined to wrestle him away from Celtic, and who may have grown frustrated at constantly changing regulations affecting his work off the pitch but grew to love United on it and came to see United as his own club. We wish him well.


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  • Red News
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    When 4th doesn’t become us… Reditorial on Louis van Gaal’s first season at Manchester United


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    this is the Editorial from RedNews225 which came out in May.


    It could have been remembered as the season where Phil Jones took corners. Or where the roar of angst like some slumbering yeti when Evans passed it back against Sunderland grew into something more hostile, as some grew tired of the repetitive references to unknown philosophies and processes, and possession over actual performances seemed king. But instead it’ll probably be recalled as the season where the ship got steadied, and we didn’t do a Liverpool. And saw them off.


    It never quite took off though, all that excitement over the transfer window - did we really suddenly have Angel Di Maria and Radamal Falcao in our ranks after years of painfully searching for ‘value’? Yet that was bought back down to earth with a Phil Jones shuddering tackle as suddenly Leicester fans were singing “we want six”, West Brom that “you’re not famous anymore”, and Sam Allardyce got to LvG with a throwaway Big Samism that saw Karen Shotbolt win a gurning award for handing out a detailed reply which looked beneath any of us. We’d sit in 10th place after 10 games with 13 points, and just 3 wins. It felt as though if the wheels came off under Moyes, we’d lost use of the brakes after the first 13 games. In the next 22 games (bar the recent stutter) we got 52 points and could begin to dream again.


    We even, eventually, saw Anderson join the other departing dead wood, one big double whopper we’d struggled to shift from his seat at the front of the queue so you could see method to the LvG madness, but after his Dutch adventures in Brazil, it all seemed a bit too hurried, players and fans struggling to understand and adapt to the change in culture and extra detail. He and Moyes both carried their intricate notepads, only one man seemed to know how to use them, 11 team and individual meetings before each game, trying to educate these ‘social human beings’ in front of him that may be clever enough to have earnt a Utd contract but lack the know-how to take all this in. And it showed. With Moyes we couldn’t win at home but did ok away, with LvG it was the other way around. We said this season wouldn’t be dull even if it wasn’t great, instead it became both for far too long.


    Whisper it but Evan’s mistimed and misdirected spittle, together with injuries to RVP and Di Maria’s suspension might well have been blessings in disguise. Finally we got what we asked for, a Santa-esque arrival of Mata and Herrera together, like cabbage patch dolls smiling back at you, eager to please. And that they did, helped by the ultimate cabbage patch player, Fellaini, but who has been reborn like Young under LvG. The hope if he’s done that to our ‘meh’ contingent this season, what will he do to those stars - the ones who want to hang around for all those endless team meetings - next season? The dark clouds after Arsenal in the Cup, gave way to Spring sunshine. And at Anfield, where we finally - finally! - showed up. And then all that bloody good feeling seemed to evaporate from Chelsea onwards. We were crawling over another finish line, but unlike just three years ago (and it’s only four since we were watching our third European Final in four years), this was for 4th place ‘triumph’ rather than 1st.


    But I left that Arsenal Cup game and honestly thought with the 10 games to play, and 5 of them against those in the top seven, we would struggle to make the top four. Then came that powerhouse first half against Spurs. Be it more luck than process, it worked a treat. Asked if he’d discovered this post Arsenal Cup formula by accident he said: “You can say that, I cannot say what is happening in the process, you can think that it is accidentally but I don’t think so.” Next season will tell us that answer, when he finally settles on what his best team, or the ones he trusts the must to execute his phases of play, will be.


    Mata and Herrera, often playing at the expense of the other, or not at all if RVP was available, showed, even with a buffer of hair in Fellaini behind them, they could play together. And when they did play together, we played better. They aren’t liked by United fans just because they are down to earth, but because they are pleasing to watch. And their assist and goals ratio now defy any doubts LvG had over them. And Michael Carrick’s stats, and our dreadful results without him, show just how much he’s not only dependable, but we depend on him. The scary aside is nobody at the club seemed to work out that he’s ageing and more injury prone (though clearly Moyes was doing some kind of injury dance in the Autumn to everybody which not even our legendary Toshiba Medical systems could prevent) so needed an adequate replacement long before now. The areas that need top quality purchases suggest that we won’t be returning to ‘value’, or at Glazer peril, for some time yet.


    Watching LvG’s football reminds me of that quote by the former Dutch player Jan Mulder who talked of the memories of Mr Philosophy at Ajax: “There is too much cold blood in Dutch football. Much too much. Ajax won the European Cup in 1995 but it was boring, boring. They outplayed opponents, but it had no soul. All this passing, passing... tick tock tick tock.” LvG arrived saying both he and United needed to adapt to each other, I still feel he has a way to go to realise what United’s demands for purist football, at least in theory, actually is. You’d have hoped Ryan alongside has been proving reminders throughout the up and down season. At times the only real philosophy and process we were seeing was in the continual references to them in his Friday media chats. “Sum up my philosophy? Then I need more than one hour, when I want to give it to you, then you can ask me about that.” To be honest, a season on, I’m none the wiser, certainly in what we’ve seen and the constant changes to team formations that went from 3, 4 and 5 at the back, like a very strange dance. I think in March he condensed its complexity down for us. “I attack in four phases and I defend in four phases.” I think I get it; control the ball, possession, tempo and energy levels, as players adopt set roles, and spaces on the pitch (preserving energy and waste) and let the other team wilt with none of the above. Do I get a gold star?


    Someone like Di Maria might not enjoy that cerebral responsibility, it might perversely contain them. The whole point for Madrid was he didn’t have to think, he just did, and whilst Rooney has done well with his footballing brain, his colleagues might have too much cement between ears to understand, and especially implement, this blasted ‘social human being process and philosophy’. It became indecipherable. It clearly should not be lump it up to Fellaini which it became far too often for my liking at one stage. If there is a rigidity to play and positions, then at least have some stardust to just ‘do’ as the likes of Eric and Ronaldo provided in our greatest of periods.
    Ed Woodward on tour asked us to ‘watch this space’ and we did and for once it wasn’t like paint drying. And it felt better than watching nothing happen after travelling home ‘on urgent business’ from the Sydney Triangle the year before. The Glazers for the first time used money for the club instead of their own gerrymandering, and it was exciting. The folly is not doing it sooner. United were suddenly playing catch up to a league they’d pissed year after year.


    It’s not been a bag of shite this season. I’ve seen much worse (the late 70s and early 80s, the mid 80s after the Wembley triumphs, the early Fergie years), but only under Dave Sexton have I ever felt as bored watching Manchester United play. Or make that, possess. It’s made us turn our heads seeking an exorcism of this football.


    At our worst moments, It's looked as bad as last season, but more dull, LvG's brash exterior and confidence avoiding the stick if it had still been Moyes in charge. At our best, those too few moments which could probably best be described as ‘end of March/Start of April’ we have looked like a side with more additions that could be turned into a title competitor. He certainly seemed to get lucky, which is great to call on, and the red is righters could with complete confidence say we were still getting results if not performances. A side that looked so good against city 4-2, would just a few weeks later look like blancmange trying to break down West Brom (0-1) at the same home. Breaking down, deep defending teams continues to be a problem.


    But it’s been an undercooked trifle overall as we've veered more that way than this and some of the tactical decisions - I’m sorry but Robin Van Persie in midfield for a period at home to West Brom is still like a vivid Vietnam flashback - have been peculiar which only fuels any uncertainty.
    He has the pedigree. He will have the money, again, but hand on heart I have no idea if it will all combine. We’re better, that’s good but really we should be doing much better than we have. He steadied the ship, enough, but next season we have to be right up there. The football will have to be better; the performance, the goals return, the whole feel about the place. Fergie only departed two years ago but that effortless steamrolling of all seems further away than ever. The players are happier than a year ago; but still, a long way to go and you'd hope next season we see players in the right positions, and everything a bit more right than it's been.


    Because of his retirement, those 23 years of a wonderful journey, you can be mindful to forget how dreary, plodding the football was from the 18th title onwards, Reds roused only by those great comebacks which littered the horizon as they always had under him. It hadn’t been great for some time though and a mess of varied making left an incapable manager in Moyes one hell of a mess not even the greatest of managerial Houdinis could escape from. Perhaps it suited LvG, or anyone, to miss the beat of that first season to be given greater movement around an even greater mess, but outsiders would be mistaken to think we just wanted Champions League football, an Arsenal like wooden spoon of ambition, or being just ‘up there’ again; we also wanted good, attack minded United football. It’s been a while. Saying that, the Premier League excesses in its boasting, reach and whoring, under delivers in its general levels of quality, if not excitement.


    But for all talk and eyes towards the three different managers these past two years, and how un-United that may seem, the players themselves, many performing below par at least, have put in some very consistently average and infuriating performances. It’s been rather sedimented football.


    Suddenly that which we took for granted is at an end and I can't then take it that LVG will succeed. His job this year was to halt a decline, job done but I’m still wanting more. I’m more confident than a year ago, but it’s dog littered with white turds of fear still. And we still seem only one or two bad games away from an undercurrent of tension and anger amongst our own crowd because of the yearning for a type of football which we haven’t seen for about 4-5 years now. 16 times so far we’ve seen league returns of one goal or less in matches. That creates an allergic reaction to the modern day United fan. And the modern United deserves to be seen in a different light to its 70s-early 90s incarnation because of status, silverware and where we should always now aim to be, not just dreaming of it ‘next year’. We needed LvG, or a LVG, to take back control after the Moyes’ disaster, the question is does he still have it in him to get us back to where a club of our size, and dare I say it ‘brand’, should - and has to - be. It’s not what he once was, or did, but if he still is, and can.


    You may think this is being a tad harsh. In my dark moments, which usually come after dark days for United, I have trouble convincing myself he is the right one after the frozen one. I trust him, but I wonder, do I trust him enough? I think whilst he talks up his three years, this second season is crucial. Though I try and quell the greedy smacked arse inside me, I just continue to struggle, as United do themselves, to find a compass point on where United exactly are, not in the table but, dare I say it, in this post-Fergie ‘process’.

    I have not been comfortable all season with this downgrading of expectation, that 4th was enough. That was his target from the owners set who want its money and glamour of Champions League football, and to keep its best players, but lose the sense of that complete state of winners that we had been for 23 years. We’re in a better place than a year ago, but by exactly how much? (and I don’t mean three places). Only time will now tell, and time he has. I cling to performances like the great goon filled day at home to city that that’s his United, or could well be.


    For us fans, we should not be so easily fooled though. Demanding the best shouldn’t be considered spoilt or greedy with the modern United that they created and promote, and breed, often at our expense. This summer is as important, if not more so, than the last two. Scholes said, this the once very quiet Paul but now very pertinent and interesting: “He looks really happy to be fourth but this is a club that needs to be challenging to win the league. He's spent £150m… My issue with Arsenal is that I don’t think they are striving to be like the great teams of theirs who used to battle us for the league title. They seem happy to finish fourth every year.” Let’s hope that doesn’t become United, because really, it doesn’t become us.


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  • Red News
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    Editorial from RedNews 222 - Why Red News is carrying on…


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    Why Red News is carrying on…


    There are a good few decent staffers at Manchester United; a few moan privately that there are not enough ‘football’ men at the top of the club. The club that itself removed Football Club from its crest over a decade ago. In other news. Bear shat in the woods today.


    I love going to Manchester United Football Club games, and though I despise some of the shit around it, because the life as a Red is so much more than the 90 minutes, of more than pandering to the whims of Ed Woodward and his dancing partners, I see enough to cling on to to keep going as much as I can, as often as I can, for as long as I can. The people around me in K, those same faces, pretty much (and I realise in that I’m fortunate) are mental but a sane leveller to the maddening changes at Utd so that going to games at home, as much as away, is still a great, enjoyable experience. But a world away from when I first moved there from H Stand in 1989.


    The game isn’t sick. It’s wiped clean with bleach, in need of its stomach pumped. Where tv is king, money is obscene in wages and ticket prices and as a whole whored out as people with no interest use it for greed, laundering or self promotion (just don’t mention the human rights). The working men’s game, is now anything but.


    I know the game had to change. But to this? Let’s not ignore the progress. People don’t die at football grounds anymore and that, bar to the demented, is a good thing. But time moves on. There is safe standing. We can learn a thing or two from the Germans. Prices, standing in safety; but it would affect the gravy train so they further insult our intelligence by either ignoring it or hazily pointing off to the far off future as something to discuss then; the game so in excess it doesn’t dare change too much for fear it rocks their lofty perches. We, the stakeholders, ignored and avoided. Or just shoved around like lego pieces. Spurs, 12pm on a Sunday, no trains there. Soton, on a Monday, no trains back. Arsenal fans to us this coming Monday. It’ssssss showtime…


    I cover my ears to most of the bullshit. I pick and choose my away games now. Now over £100 with travel and ticket even if you were to fucking dehydrate and get a urine infection with no food and water for the rest of the day. ie; not have fun. And don’t dare have some fun. ‘Sit down. Shut up.’ Don’t get up, say anything, or else… Where you can’t see coppers down your street but you’ll see hundreds when United come to town. Where news stories cover tomato sauce being thrown around, but not the debatable practises of many inside the game.


    In other words, football is fucked. It’s not finished, but it has been a naughty boy. I still go. This is my drug. But a diluted one. With a lot of shit making up its content. But I keep asking the pusher for more. I’m older now, but my life is so intrinsically linked with United, that I still eagerly await the next fix. So what do we do? Many of us go because we always have. Or you get off at the next stop, when family, financial or just plain fed up reasons come to play. You still support United. Just not quite in the same way. You need to still enjoy all this to want to go, otherwise that’s just pointless, but I fear Old Trafford is ageing, too lop-sided, the club failing to realise the ageing nature of the ground, and they haven’t properly planned for who will come in our place. The club do nothing, really, to help younger Reds. We need an influx, and not a coachload stepping off and heading straight to megastore heaven. I see mates now as fathers, bringing their own kids. And that’s great. You see that innocence we all had as kids, seeing all United as unblemished. But there are not enough youngsters who don’t want to be in the Family Stand inside OT. Undervalued and ignored. They have to entice a younger crowd.


    And we need, somehow, football to have a bash to its head and regain its common sense. Football bloated, in boom, has long seen predictions of its demise at this peak. But it will falter. There is a natural cycle to events in life, and ‘business’ and saturated coverage means I can’t be arsed watching other teams as I once did, and I actually get tired of some of the United coverage now, because of the boring platitudes uttered and the utter imbecilic mind numb of deadline day. In an absurd tv deal, I reckon most want to watch less, not more. I’d rather spend an hour with Roy Cropper than Thierry bleedin’ Henry. It’s endless gloop when all that matters is buzz, match, goon, and beer. And when a United chief, dear old Ed Woodward, to appease lead shareholders in the latest conference call has to big up, er, ‘Utd had four of the five biggest NBC audiences for games this season’ rather than on field performances, you can stop the clocks, because I for one ain’t listening to the turd stream.


    We never hear anything of real interest from our players; North Korean Kar En Shotbolt sees to that with copy approval. We chase official partners more than we do the local youngsters on their bikes cycling past OT. They then comically create press releases where more and more obscure companies, so we are told/patronised/laugh at, share the ‘same core values’ as a leeching global multinational as a football club that once just played football. Football has never been better marketed, but never less bearable in its complete and utter smugness, summed up by Richard Scudamore who talks up the brand, patronises its fans, and who has milked this cow to within an inch of it’s udders. It’s udder madness. (sorry!).


    It’s never been as big, but nor as bland. Never has a deadline day got what it deserves amidst all this sickening hyperbole than just gone as Sky tried to big up Adebayor actually not joining anybody. In fact, United recently signed up ‘Manda Fermentation, our nutritional supplements partner in Japan.’ I think they should have retired partners like US does shirt numbers, as nothing will top that. Irony is dead. Manda FC.


    SKY does not own football. Sad though that many fans think it does; and that life pre-’92 didn’t exist, or is simply worth ignoring. If Carlsberg did anything but piss, then their Sky probably couldn’t be as self righteous, excessive and unnecessary as the real SKY’s is right now.


    If Dickens were around today, he could not have created as slimy characters as Scudamore, Ashley, the Glazers. Where opulence is celebrated and the fact that it’s the poor fuckers with tickets or high tv charges (hardly worth it in honesty) being rinsed, avoided. I realise it’s a microcosm of the real world. Jesus, what a world. The gap widens. The resentment festers. A RN seller saying ‘whilst some of the moaning is rich, like after Burnley, we had shit night games in the old days don’t forget, we are more resentful of it all with the money they earn’. It’s them and us, where it once was not, and needn’t be. Yes, capacity has increased and so has average attendance meaning the face of OT changed; but not all has been in the name of decent progress.


    It’s high farce, We see through it. Thank God. But more of us depart, fed up. And what comes in their place is exactly what they want; a megastore swilling brand junky who will fill the tills and the air with more than us bastards left cursing it all. That’s one of the many factors of ’05 that is so thoroughly depressing; the good lads that went, and what came, in large numbers, in their place. ‘But the money keeps ticket prices down, and is spent on players’ (cough, only really last summer). Many avoid the conversation, but that’s now edging ever closer to the ONE BILLION out of the club from the takeover costs; money that could have been spent in so many better ways. Servicing debt, and their greed, rather than the club. The £150m last summer would have been nice as the norm, rather than the exception since ’05.


    But I feel there’s life enough left in this dog. For this fanzine will continue to fight, because these are the issues we were founded to fight, and need to continue to do so; this shiteness. The brick wall seems that much tougher, that much higher. The Fellaini wigs and half and half seem ever greater with each passing game. I ask again; does anyone really look back at that ‘MUFC vs Burnley, Wednesday night’ scarf and think anything but ‘what the fuck was I thinking when I paid a tenner for that?!’. If we lose more of our soul, our identity, what is left is the exact type of fan that United are looking for in the short term, but will come to regret in the long term, when the days aren’t quite as bright; United’s history suggests nothing, ever, can be taken for granted.


    Especially in a modern world where attention spans seem limited, and loyalty can be fickle.


    Thankfully our United is not their United, but they control the engine and the car keys and we wistfully look at some if not all of their direction, kidnapped in the boot, just wondering why the map has to fucking ride over that which we held dear. That so many feel outsiders at their own club they’ve supported for decades. They rejoiced at RI’s demise because it meant one less voice; just like when you may decide to stop going. Our voice may not be as loud, but let’s fucking shrill for as long as can. Because if we can prod, provoke and just ridicule Mr Potato, then, at least, we are fighting these small battles. As one swagman said recently on the forecourt, pointing towards the glass offices above ‘there are more blaggers and chancers in there than out here’.


    The first time I knew United as it was, was if not properly fucked, then a distant negative of that which we once knew, was after Niall Quinn for city missed in front of K Stand, long since told to sit down, and those giving him just a friendly Derby Day reminder about it received letters from United warning them about their future behaviour. Old Trafford was now its own Nanny State, and we were tolerated rather than greeted. Soon to be exploited and not really that welcome in our own home. This all led by Martin Edwards, who not long after would show us all how to conduct himself (and I don’t mean in brothels in Brazil or toilets all over the world) by scrapping with a photographer over United’s FA Cup ommission. Imagine if that had been any of us? BANNED.


    None of this is a recent phenomenon. Old Trafford has always had its chancers and blaggers, need we look further than those meat pies and grotty practises of Louis Edwards your honour. The Woodwards and the Kenyons depart, yet they get to decide the almost threatening levels of provocation towards the faces in the crowd who have been there since dot. United engage with a farcical Fans Forum; and ignore, and treat like shit, people who haven’t missed a game in years. Constantly told we’re a business, they never act like one, who else would treat its most loyal ‘customers’ with such disdain, ‘cos it’s football’. The greater core which United think they depend on is very loose, and they ignore those who are willing to give it the most, in terms of real support, and its local community so long ignored, at their peril. It’s very sad to witness.


    Around the country from Leeds (despite the sniggers and ‘fuck em’s) to Wrexham and Rangers the cost to real fans, even if they are rivals, from the actions of the fuckers supposedly running them for the greater good, but only for their own good, is there for all to see. Fortitude coming from an FA who are willing to turn a blind eye to the arse fucking of its clubs, but will gladly charge Louis van Gaal, and rebuke a man who swears after celebrating a hat-trick. A blind eye and all that.
    Going to United is still about the fun and the good and pretty much, despite the football these recent seasons, we continue to do that. It is life affirming. We all support United how we wish to, or if not, should do. It is still great even when lots of it has gone to shite. Orwell wrote: ‘Let's face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.’, and United provides a light in all that mud. But it involves a lot more hassles, than it should, as unwelcome as they should be unnecessary and this fanzine is there to not only give you a voice but to continue to hope - and fight - for a better and easier future. I love that our Utd, with our boozing, trips and buzz, is not their Utd. But dealings with our own club should not be this difficult. In 2013, Richard Arnold talked of United looking to the German ‘model’; "I think some of the work they do on fan communication and fan consultation are areas that we can learn from. We will continue to strive to improve in those areas." Progress since then? Not one single step.


    You can see why so many Reds keep their heads down, just step this way and that to avoid the bullshit, and take what they can, while they still can. But United isn’t just about the winning, it’s about its soul too. And trying to be at its core more United together. And fighting for a better MUFC. We might not always get it right. But we will try.


    Because going to United could be so much better. And we need to re-energise within our support, wither away the growing apathy, our supporters’ groups grow more teeth once more, as well as fight for United fans’ concerns. We at least should give a shit against those who certainly don’t give a fuck back. Why imitate their derision? Being a Red is far from shit, but there’s a lot wrong with the way we are treated. It isn’t a closed shop either, this top Red manual nonsense is just that. Though with the few weapons we do have in our support, you’d like to think a few older heads would advise on certain general rights and wrongs.


    ‘Buy the ticket, take the ride.’ Still then, for many of us, if some only just. Hating an aspect of that which we love so much. But we’re dead a long time, and I’m not at my stop to get off when I still can have the (albeit reduced) craic. So as long as there are still enough that see through the bullshit from all angles, especially from those mercenaries/interlopers up top, and enjoy what’s left, we’ll converge closer together knowing at least in pockets their assimilation of our support is not complete, and enjoying the scraps we are fed. But whilst we still publish we will always try and fight this consuming tide. Because who knows where the ripples may, still, take us. But they - all of them - ignore, once more, the now almost absurd rift between us and ‘them’ at their peril.


    They show a lack of immaturity in their dealings with us, and treat us like an enemy. Yet it is, and always will be, our club not theirs.


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  • Red News
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    One of the many attractions Manchester United bestows onto its followers is the desire to not just win, but win in style.


    Some players might feel burdened by the demand that we go out and win every game, and if we don’t, then we gave it a good go, but others, well, when in form, rise to the challenge. Rio Ferdinand saying of Robin Van Persie: “Robin Van Persie loved it. He told me that at Arsenal you wanted to win, but at United you had to win.”


    Alex Ferguson had many regular catch phrases, and one of them was to accept any challenge, because there is always one at the club a size of United’s. And the challenge for any Manchester United manager is to play attractive football in going and getting those wins. It was a demand created and installed of course by Sir Matt Busby, but the great thing about Fergie, after a dreadful opening few seasons, was that he didn’t just provide the long demanded glory, but added to our mix, so we also fought until the end. It was never too late, so many times.


    It is quite remarkable the decline at United since we celebrated a 20th title on scaffolding. I hate to keep bringing him up, but David Moyes’ disastrous reign, though only near enough a full season, it felt like many more, has had a remarkable affect on our mindset and confidence. Confidence is crucial in football, with it the football quality improves and anything is possible. That first title season in 1992/93 could quite easily have turned out differently; until Eric’s arrival that is. Turgid at the start of November, by the turn of the year we were playing with him some of the best football I’ve seen at Old Trafford - Eric onto Irwin, etc.


    Moyes drained the life out of the team, and us. And we are still climbing back up that particular sorry mountain. Lacking confidence, everything seems in isolation. We need to see the bigger picture; United managers are given time for a reason, to prove themselves and build, we know that Moyes with time would have been a disaster but I am confident enough in LvG not just because of his self confidence and stature, but by his achievements. They are in the past and he has to prove himself, but I think 10 games in is too early, we’re going micro with our view of the here and now rather than macro.


    Winning breeds confidence and so on, so a win yesterday was vital. It came over performance and you don’t enjoy seeing United look poor, but you realise how important it can be in this bloody ‘process’ we keep hearing about.


    What I love about United fans is our demands; I think the players and LvG would have realised quite early onto into the bizarre tactic of keeping the ball near DDG with McNair, Carrick, Shaw and co, quite scarily passing to each other as you could smell a mistake coming, United don’t do that not just because we want to sell the ball at the other end, but because we’re not very good at it! But the message from the terraces is ‘attack, attack’ and I like that - they will get the message.


    Palace either defended brilliantly or we were not quite with it yesterday. A mix of both, we have a hell of a lot of our players out of form right now; Adnan, RVP, Rooney again doing lots but not much with it, and Di Maria joining them out of sympathy, and with so many front players not at the races, you can be happy that we did manage to drag a win out of this.


    The atmosphere was better, the singing section finally woke up to its challenge after all the hassles creating it, and I thought Shaw had his best game, pacey, good in a challenge but looking excellent going forward, we saw why we’d paid that much and all the hype, but I thought McNair looked solid beyond his inexperience too, and Blind may be criticised for not being more creative but he’s quietly efficient, sometimes you just need a rubber band in the engine room to keep things ticking, look what Hargreaves did for us that season.


    The challenge is for the attacking players to add the magic, and you saw here it never quite coming off, a blocked run or misplaced pass, and with United taking too many touches we lacked the zip in play we need if we are to do well this season.


    The squad is much better than last season, and I do see progress, but we need to see more. Chelsea’s passing was superior against us and if our whole ‘philosophy’ is based on keeping the ball, we have to do it better and be more clinical. And faster. At the moment RVP is slowing play down, and that’s painful to say, Wilson showing a spark that might have deserved a full 90.


    Mata came on and despite his poor 3 game audition during Rooney’s suspension, he has a great knack of scoring often because he is prepared to have a go. I have lost count this past year when United players haven’t taken the gamble, been more brave, and on many occasions we’ve not had enough shots on target. Have a go. That too comes from confidence I know.


    So winning helps confidence and confidence helps performance. So we need a winning run. This past year and a bit has been what Fergie recently said was ‘one step forward, two back’, when we’ve not gone on winning runs, the bricks to all our successes. Arsenal is a huge game now. We can’t afford to not get a win away as soon as possible and with their own problems it could be 5-4, but United don’t just need a performance and win for confidence, but to kick start our season.


    Again we’re thinking too much about United. Fretting, concerned, where for years we just took it all for granted. When LvG says he needs three years we can recoil, but we need to see where we are at the end of the season, not in November when we’ve missed those midweek fixtures to help things too. We’re enjoying the madness of post Fergie, there is a buzz about going to games we also took for granted, and I’m glad despite the lack of edge to our play yesterday that we just reminded them ‘in-game’ that we need to see better, attacking football, but the win can’t be underestimated. It’s the sort of game we threw away last season.


    Another international break now. Bollocks. Stop-start the theme of a season where clubs in England if not abroad are feeling a World Cup hangover. At United we’ve had one hell of a fucker of a Moyes hangover. We need to start seeing past that. We have quality, success ridden players. Hopefully their confidence will return, because with it, so will the winning and the quality of our play.


    5/10 but still hopeful for the future. Let’s look forward, not backwards.


    Barney 9th November 2014.


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    PS. Bizarre as it is to say about a player who only just joined but I do think we are missing Herrera as a link man. Think he started well and the team will look better, and offer more, with him.
    Last edited by Red News; 09-11-2014, 05:26 PM.

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