So it began, the David Moyes era. He slipped into Carrington (sorry, the AON Training Complex) on July 1st wearing a nervous smile and a shiny grey suit that looked more M&S than Saville Row. Fitting perhaps, as unlike the two Iberian candidates this appointment was the board’s attempt to source an off-the-peg replacement for Fergie. Moyes is undoubtedly the safe choice: low on stardust but more crucially, low on potential flounces and histrionics too.
Fergie’s parting broadside at Wayne Rooney presented DM with his first major issue before he’d even started the job. I’m still trying to work out now what the sense was in making the alleged ‘transfer request’ public, surely it would have strengthened the club’s bargaining position if the details of this had been kept private? What Fergie definitely achieved though, was placing Moyes under pressure from the start and kickstarting a story that has followed him round like a bad smell all summer. ‘What’s the story about Wayne, Dave?’, ‘Tell us about Wayne, Dave?’, ‘Have you had a chat with Wayne, Dave?’, ‘Dave, Dave, Daaaaave?’ It must be driving him fucking daft.
Throughout the club, this his been a summer of BIG CHANGES. Fergie was barely on his ferry floating round Scotland (worst summer holiday ever), before Ed Woodward and Dickie Arnold (Niles Crane and Billy Bunter) joined Moyes at the helm ready to steer us through the murky, uncertain waters of the post-Wizard era. They signalled their intent by doing something which should have been done 3 years ago – they signed a world-class central midfielder. Ha! Of course they didn’t, but they did manage to open a Twitter account.
Yes, the winds of change were howling through Old Trafford this summer. Not only did the club embrace Twitter, they also opened an Instagram account and then signed up with Google+ – sensational developments, a communication revolution that heralded our nascent steps in this scary new era. Fergie might not have approved of witchcraft like the internet and signing midfielders – but he was gone and these new guys clearly weren’t phased by such prospects. So with our social media portfolio in place, new signings were surely an absolute certainty? Ronaldo, Thiago, Fabregas, Modric, Leon Osman… the possibilities were endless.
Before the signings commenced, first it was time for the ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL MAN U MEGASUMMER ROADSHOW which this year saw us schlepp round Australia and Asia for several months. What can I say? Taking in 50 billion miles and playing to 50 billion spectators, it was an enormous success that provided idyllic preparations for the squad ahead of another demanding season. Something like that, anyway.
Ed fled the tour, hotfooting it back to the UK to stalk Cesc Fabregas aka ‘urgent transfer business’ (which we knew due to the sudden open season approach to communications, with press briefings now occurring on an hourly basis) so it was left for Dickie to do the talking in his absence. It was cringeworthy stuff. “Our description is the heartbeat of Manchester, the pulse is all over the world”, “I stand on the shoulders of giants. We are every bit as much of a team off the pitch as we are on it.” Then there’s this corker of a quote which needs to be considered in its entirety to be fully appreciated…
“David (Gill) has been preparing both myself and Ed in quite some detail about the way it all works. Ed has been particularly well briefed about the operations of how we transact with players, both the fantastic ones we already have and if there is an opportunity to buy. As befits a man of his nature, David did a fantastic job in the nurturing he has given us, the preparation and the handover. Laying the flight path to the runway is all about preparation. Everyone is well aware of the change. But from the inside, in the context of having to make the change, it has been fantastically well done.”
“Fantastic” indeed. I make that rhetoric, arse-kissing, self-reverence, backslapping, a customary metaphor AND an acute case of premature congratulation. Impressive stuff – it’s no wonder the commercial departments of all these sponsors, sorry ‘global partners’ we’ve recently accumulated gravitate towards Arnold… he talks like a man with a PhD in corporate bullshit.
In fairness to Dickie, if his job is to maximise commercial revenue he appears to be an absolute master of his trade. This summer the club have racked up another 5 commercial deals taking the number of official sponsors to a mind-boggling 33. Kansai Paint are the club’s official paint partner. It’s mental when you think about it – an official paint partner. Do they contact us or do we contact them with such a proposal? “Hello, Manchester United here…just wondered if you’d like to give us a load of money and samples and we’ll say we’re errrrr… paint partners? You do?! Fantastic. Just wire the money through and we’ll sort you a picture of Kagawa holding up two tins of emulsion. Sorted then, cheers.”
At last everyone arrived home before immediately jetting off again for a quick friendly in Stockholm – a throwback to the days when United undertook a tour of Scandinavia every summer. Those tours seemed quite exotic back then, especially considering City never travelled any further than the Isle of Man tournament. Then came Wembley for the Charity Shield, a chance for early season silverware and to check out the new signings we’d been *that* close to bringing in for several weeks. We won the trophy of course, but the new faces were strangely absent – probably just a delay with the paperwork I expect.
So after a summer of stalking, sulking and waiting patiently it was finally time to kick-off at Swansea, with the club’s sideline business of winning football matches thankfully restored to the top of the agenda. Moyes got his debut win – important given the nightmare start he’s been dealt fixture-wise. Anything less than 3 points and the pressure would have been piled on ahead of today’s (Chelsea) game. Other observations? Reds in fine voice, midfield deficiencies not addressed, Giggs still starting, Rooney sat on the fringes looking mightily pissed off and Robin Van Persie absolutely brilliant.
New era? Doesn’t appear much has changed in truth.
Copyright Red News – August 2013