In this age of faux sentimentality and competitive grieving, the manner in which the club and United fans remember the Munich Air Disaster each year remains a source of some pride. There tends to be nothing over-elaborate or contrived about how the anniversary is marked. We don’t seek the attention of outsiders and we’ve never flaunted the tragedy to garner public sympathy. For the most part, everything is kept in-house, low-key and respectful – just as it should be.
Unfortunately, this message of ‘how we do things’ doesn’t seem to have reached a number of ‘reds’ that inhabit social media. February 6th this year saw Twitter rammed-full of the self-satisfied, ‘look at me’ witterings of people in competition to be the biggest and bestest, grief-stricken mourner. It was pathetic, with a few even attempting to get in early by posting their heartfelt missives the night before – ‘Munich Eve’, I suppose, in their world.
The biggest clown of the lot was one lad, writing for a sizeable United news blog, who decided to take offence at the fact Danny Murphy appeared on Talksport on February 5th and relayed an anecdote relating to aircraft turbulence. Sadly, I’m not making this up. This is what Murphy said…
“I’ll never forget going through a storm in a plane on a pre-season tour, Switzerland to Germany and it was the worst turbulence I’ve ever had and we were in little propellered plane, only the team. We were flying and it was really bad turbulence, I was like getting a bit scared and Didi Hamann was terrified. Michael Owen turned round and said ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to die in a plane crash’. I thought, you know what, he was joking, but I’m thinking, he’s right you know, Michael Owen is not going to die in a plane crash.”
So Murphy made no mention of Munich whatsoever, wasn’t mocking the crash and simply told a story which highlighted the fact that as a youngster, Michael Owen was a cocky little bleeder. It’s a good story too, yet apparently it shouldn’t have been told because it was the day before the anniversary of Munich – a fact which apparently made this United blogger’s “blood boil”. The blog’s editor even contacted Talksport demanding some kind of explanation or apology, an utterly brainless request that I sincerely hope was ignored. Seriously now, what do these people hope to achieve? Are we so sensitive now that the words ‘plane crash’ can’t be uttered in February? Should we also ban aircraft travel during that month in case there’s ever a repeat?
The Munich anniversary has always been a sombre and muted affair, not a cue for people to start losing the plot and crowbarring themselves into the spotlight in an attempt to drum up some controversy. There was no story here, just a shameless attempt by a United fan hoping to increase blog traffic and cause embarrassment to an ex-Liverpool player. Just because a significant number of their fans seem to draw pleasure from trawling the media, seeking out tenuous insults and stirring up trouble for the supposed perpetrators, it doesn’t justify United fans adopting a similar mentality.
Next year, it would be nice if certain people could mark the anniversary as we have always tried to in the past – quietly, calmly and above all, respectfully. It doesn’t require a fuss and it certainly doesn’t need plastering all over social media to advertise how caring we are. If you choose to visit Manchesterplatz in Trudering or Duncan Edwards’ resting place in Dudley, then fantastic, do it – just don’t feel obliged to show everyone the pictures on Facebook. Then again, we’re talking about people here who would see nothing untoward with tweeting live updates from a family funeral. “Coffin gone in. Missin’ u already, Mum xx”
It’s not only a number of United fans who’ve suffered a #headsgone moment this month, as Louis Van Gaal demonstrated during his press conference a couple of days after the West Ham game. Quite why the manager of Manchester United felt the need to respond to Sam Allardyce of all people, questioning his tactics, is something that can only be answered by Louis himself. This, of course, was the same Sam Allardyce whose entire managerial career has seen him prosper by employing the likes of Kevin Davis and Andy Carroll as human battering rams. Louis would have been better off ignoring him completely rather than trying to disprove his accusations with a cringeworthy dossier of Benitez-style ‘fachts’.
Talking of Kevin Davis, I note he gave a textbook demonstration of his limited skill set during the game up at Preston recently. Quite what this journeyman clogger has ever done to merit his national treasure status is really quite baffling. At Deepdale he was showing off his full repertoire of snide, culminating in a shin-high, late challenge which deserved a straight red yet was conveniently ignored by the referee, Phil Dowd. Thankfully, Preston had the sense to substitute him soon afterwards before he made an even bigger fool of himself. Here’s hoping that’s the last time our paths will ever cross, and that sometime in the near future Davis will summon up the good grace to retire at last, the try-hard prick.
The Preston game encapsulated exactly where United are at right now. It’s painful to watch for the most part, with many players struggling with tactics and formations they still seem entirely uncomfortable with. Attempts at possession football result in them smashing the ball against each other’s shins and most confusingly of all (and somewhat disturbingly), we actually look a better team with Young and Fellaini on the pitch. Falcao, meanwhile, looks to be in a terminal slump. Despite starting a run of games and now being able to last a full 90 minutes, he looks a shadow of the player that was tearing up La Liga 2-3 years ago. It’s all gone a bit Shevchenko at Chelsea for him, sadly.
Van Gaal’s claim that he’s happy with the team’s progress has a hollow ring to it at present, especially now a top four place is under serious threat from a resurgent Liverpool and an in-form Arsenal. Considering the easy run of fixtures we’ve had since Christmas, it should really have been all but wrapped up by now – but instead we’re facing a tough run of games with key players struggling for form in a system that seems to change by the week. Judging by the comments coming from the away end at Preston during that diabolical 1st half, Van Gaal still has a lot of convincing to do. He may well have the players onside, but can he rely on the support of the United board if he doesn’t finish top four?
Copyright Red News – February 2015