Tag Archives: david moyes

Dig The New Breed


Hurrah! 3 points! At last a day where everyone stays out for a post-match beer rather than scattering off home in a sulk, AND you could watch MOTD without wanting to kick the telly in afterwards. Yes, I know it was only QPR at home but the win was a long time coming (131 days to be precise) and it felt like a large cloud had lifted. People were actually smiling, basking in the (very possibly premature) glow that we might just have turned a corner. I’m certain there’ll be more painful results to come before things are properly sorted, but medium to long term I’m sticking with the belief that we’re moving in the right direction again.

Despite the paucity of results throughout 2014, even by United’s exalted standards, off the pitch it’s been completely captivating. Whilst it quickly became apparent we picked the wrong successor to Fergie, it still came as a huge relief that Moyes was dismissed in such a timely manner. 5 months on, the buzz still hasn’t fully subsided that we pulled the trigger when we did. The board could have quite easily decided to give him another 12 months and we’d be facing another season of demoralising results with much the same demoralised squad. Instead, we’ve appointed a man who appears to know what needs to be done – who in a matter of weeks has instigated a long overdue overhaul of both personnel and the predictable tactics in place.

After a promising start and a tumbleweed strewn 6 week period in the middle of the transfer window, the last 2 weeks saw Woodward locate the chequebook and spring into action like a startled gazelle. Finally, the major surgery we’ve been in dire need of for the last 3-4 years was carried out. There were casualties, there were surprises, there were disappointments (nobody was stupid enough to buy Anderson, sadly) – but overall, the upshot is the squad now looks considerably stronger than it did at the start of the summer… ummm, apart from the defence.

Nani, Cleverley, Hernandez, Kagawa, Welbeck… all gone. Nani hasn’t had a good game in 3 years, Cleverley is loathed by pretty much everybody in the world and Hernandez, despite being a tremendous impact sub, never developed into a player who should be starting games. Shinji Kagawa meanwhile, so beloved of internet reds and Bundesliga hipsters, remained anonymous even on the occasions he was allowed play in his much heralded ‘special position’. Everyone has players for whom they afford a large blind spot, but in truth they’ll be few tears shed as a consequence of this bunch leaving the club.

Of all the departures, it’s the loss of Danny Welbeck that’s caused the most consternation, with Eric Harrison and Mike Phelan leading the voices expressing disappointment and suggesting the club is in danger of losing its “soul” or “identity” by deciding to move him on. Their argument possibly bears scrutiny in the light of an unprecedented £150M spending spree, but the brutal reality of the situation was best summed up by Van Gaal himself… Danny had 3 years to cement a place at United but didn’t reach the required standard.

He was close though, and Welbeck is a player with many qualities. As United’s football grew more pedestrian (almost reaching a grinding halt last season), he was the one who brought genuine pace to the team – which was especially apparent given the lamentable form of Young and Valencia. Despite his willingness to run the channels, Danny considers himself a centre forward… but as a striker he simply didn’t score enough. A great athlete, bags of skill and a selfless team player, undoubtedly – but forwards are ultimately judged on goals. Unfortunately Danny Welbeck had a record comparable with Peter Davenport’s – and despite flirting with 1980s-style results of late, nobody seriously wants a return to those days, do they?


So rather than watching Welbeck toil relentlessly with a minimal goal return, we’ll have to put up with Radamel Falcao. How will we cope? This was a genuine Big Dawg signing of the type United have become resistant to in recent years, as we instead adhered to Fergie’s doomed pursuit of value in the market. A pursuit so misguided that it’s required a £200M+ outlay to begin correcting it over the last 12 months – and we’re still left with a lopsided squad that remains very much a work in progress.

Although Fergie maintained the Glazers were “fantastic” owners who never refused him a player, are we still supposed to believe the cost of servicing the club’s debt hasn’t adversely affected successive transfer budgets since 2005? If United had continued to invest in the squad at the rate they did pre-takeover (when we were regularly paying eye watering sums to cement a position as Europe’s most financially secure and successful club), it’s unlikely there would have been any requirement for the colossal-sized splurge that was witnessed this summer.

It’s only 4 years since Fergie described City and Chelsea’s spending as “kamikaze”, but that’s exactly what United have been forced to resort to in a bid to play catch up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining as it was wholly necessary given the blindingly obvious deterioration of the squad – it just smacks of arrogance and complacency that it took so long for the penny to drop. If the club had continued with the policy of one or two ‘proper’ signings per year as opposed to taking frugal gambles on dross like Bebe, Obertan and Bellion, we would never have got into this mess to begin with.

In truth, United have always spent big money – whether it be Tommy Taylor or Denis Law or Bryan Robson or Rio Ferdinand. I fail to see why upgrading Welbeck for Falcao should be seen as evidence the club has abandoned its proud record of nurturing and blooding youth players. You could just as easily cite the recent emergence of Tyler Blackett and the non-arrival of a big name centre half as proof the opposite is true and the tradition is alive and well.

Signing the likes of Falcao and Di Maria isn’t a betrayal of Manchester United’s culture, I’d say it’s more a sign that Manchester United are now behaving like Manchester United again. Welbeck had a chance and came up short, so now James Wilson will get game time as a result of him leaving. If Wilson proves to be the real deal, then he’ll thrive here… and if he doesn’t, then in time another kid will get an opportunity. That’s how it has always worked, some make the grade whereas others fall by the wayside. It’s a ruthless business and it’s survival of the fittest. No matter what club, no matter what level – that’s football.

Copyright Red News – September 2014


Walking On Sunshine

Big louis

Aaaaaaand we’re back! 14 weeks on from the season of Moyes-inspired decline and it’s all beginning to seem like a distant memory. New manager, new players, new kit, new shirt sponsors, new ‘official global food partners’… it’s all been happening. Apologies now readers, if this column seems less doom-laden than normal – I’m currently suffering from a mild case of pre-season optimism. The thought of rousing myself from my summer stupor for another 9 months of football and all the nonsense that comes with it actually feels quite appealing for once. I’m sure it will pass, but it’s gaylordery all the way at present.

The root cause of this affliction, I’m certain, is Louis Van Gaal. Whereas David Moyes put on his shiniest suit and shuffled apologetically into Carrington last July; LVG strode in sporting an eye catching socks n’ flip-flops combo whilst barking instructions and dishing out high fives to the laundry staff and tea lady. Straight away, he has the air of a man born for the United gig. He might have the look of a sex tourist, but he sounds like a man with a plan. I’m smitten already.

You only needed to take a cursory glance at any of the pre-season fixtures (which I did, sod staying up for the duration), to see the instant effect on the team. Without overstating things at this early stage, for a group that looked so completely devoid of ideas a few months ago, there now appears to be a renewed confidence and swagger in place. Whereas players appeared weighed down under the burden of Moyes’ stilted approach, Van Gaal has already roused those lesser-spotted tenets of expression and creativity. United (whisper it) are beginning to look like a football team again, and a pretty decent one too. Even Ashley Young is playing well.

The feelgood, sunshine vibes of present began even before Van Gaal’s appointment in fairness. I don’t want to spend any more time bitching about Moyes, but life genuinely did begin to get a whole lot better at the precise moment his departure was confirmed. Within days of his sacking, some marketing imbecile at Paddy Power came up with the banterrific idea of installing a mocking statue of him outside Anfield – affording all their OOT’ers a hilarious photo opportunity prior to their match v’s Chelsea. You remember that game, surely? It was the anointed day of usurpation. They had the t-shirts printed and everything, bless them.

Unfortunately for the scousers, the football gods took one look at this development and shockingly, unexpectedly… deliciously decided to cancel their coronation. 2013/14 was grim viewing for the most part, but that Steven Gerrard mis-controlled pass has to go down as one of the most satisfying conclusions to a season in the modern era. Within the space of 5 seconds, Gerrard handed United fans a tolerable summer and Demba Ba an honorary doctorship in scousebusting – his place at the top table alongside Michael Thomas and Norman Whiteside guaranteed for life. City won the league, granted – but most reds were too busy celebrating Liverpool’s (ahem) slip to notice. Schadenfreude – it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it’s an utterly wonderful thing.

Whilst the players and staff have been getting acquainted with Van Gaal and his methods, the man himself has been receiving a fast-tracked induction into how United operate too. This summer, as per usual, we’ve been doing an awful lot of looking at main transfer targets though actual completed business (scarf shots) remain very thin on the ground. Despite rolling with an apparently ‘unlimited’ budget, as of the 2nd week in August, United have recruited fewer players than any other Premier League club. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… as Eric might say.

In 2009 it was Benzema, 2010 was Ozil, 2011 Sneijder, 2012 Hazard, 2013 Thiago… no summer would be complete these days without a long, drawn out, ultimately unrequited transfer saga. In case you weren’t aware of it, 2014’s chief object of desire is Arturo Vidal, the Chilean playmaker who comes with suspect tattoos and an even more suspect knee – a snip at Juventus’ reported asking price of £47M.


You might pay little attention to any of this of course, preferring instead to get on with your life, devoting time to friends, family and loved ones during the summer months. Well done, you. That doesn’t stop thousands of normally well adjusted, rational people checking twitter, speculating on forums, translating foreign language tabloids… generally working themselves into a frenzy of unhinged expectation, in a futile attempt to find anything concrete that confirms an actual real-life deal might be imminent. It’s utterly mental.

A mate of mine decided to bypass the Vidal rumour mill and instead took matters into his own hands by emailing Fernando Felicevich, the player’s agent…

Dear Sir,

My 27 year old son has asked for the new Manchester United shirt for his birthday (it’s next Thursday, 7th August). He is an XXXL size and wants Arturo Vidal on the back of the shirt (red one) so he can wear it when he goes to the contact centre to see his 15 year old son. Times are hard here in the UK at present so I cannot afford the full name, so I was thinking just ‘Vidal’ and number ‘7’. Could you tell me whether Arturo is going to sign for Manchester United and if so, will be be before or after 7th August?

I know you are busy so a simple reply such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will be enough.

Thank you for your help. If Arturo has a free shirt as well that would be awesome.

Yours, Mr S***** F****

Amazingly, this gibberish was actually read and replied to within a few hours.

Thanks for your time. Arturo is overwhelmed by the interest of Manchester but enjoying his time in Italy. Good evening.

So there you have it. World exclusive: Vidal’s not coming… either that or Felicevich is bluffing. Why on earth would a reputable agent (c/w hotmail account, no less) reveal the truth to some random crank via email, after all? You genuinely can’t believe a word that clubs, agents or the players themselves are saying in public because no party will ever risk revealing their hand until the very last moment. Routine denials are all part of the dance, which is why people end up giving credence to @agent69itk (a 15 year old kid from Milton Keynes, probably) or any other twitter-based oddball who’s on hand to provide a steady stream of inane ‘updates’ from their impeccably placed ‘sources’.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out more players will ultimately arrive this summer. This consequences of that not happening don’t really bear thinking about. Despite Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra all being on their last legs, all three departing at once is a huge loss and we look desperately short of defensive cover – especially given the injury record of the first choice back 4 (or indeed 3) as things stand. Woodward will either have to sort it or face the consequences – I can’t see Big Louis being very understanding should there be any repeat of last year’s fiasco.

Vidal or no Vidal, it’s good to be back. Bring on United…

Copyright Red News – August 2014


Lights, Camera, Action!


True Reds – Manchester United Season Review 2013/14 (2014, PDI Media, 109 minutes)

Synopsis: 20 times English football champions appoint new manager and set off in pursuit of further glory. Disappointment ensues.

Genre: Sports/Action/Disaster

Starring: David Moyes

Supporting Cast: Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, David De Gea, Adnan Januzaj, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata.

***Spoilers ahead***

Review: Appearing to little fanfare at the start of the summer blockbuster season, this baffling movie initially promises a lot but quickly loses focus before meandering along for what seems like several hours. The storytelling is somewhat aimless – interviews with principal cast members punctuate a relentless number of repetitive action sequences and the director relies on a voiceover to make up for a lack of basic plot and narrative structure.

The scale and scope of this production is nevertheless, quite impressive. The film features an expensively hired, multinational cast, many thousands of extras and production took place over 9 months on location around England and mainland Europe. Despite this, the viewer is left with an overriding feeling of grave disappointment. Many of the actors appear guilty of failing to read the script and in a few cases, simply phoning in their performances. Indeed, former star turns such as Robin Van Persie (Robin Van Persie) and Ryan Giggs (Ryan Giggs) quite literally disappear for long periods in the middle of the feature.

Based on the evidence here, rumours that production was beset with problems behind the scenes are probably true. David Moyes fails to shine in his first starring role and unsurprisingly, was dismissed from the set weeks before filming was complete. Moyes however, brings a raw emotion to his time on screen – his range of grimaces, whether used in celebration or rueful contemplation, make for some of the film’s most memorable moments. A nod of appreciation too, for newcomer Marouane Fellaini who provides some light relief amongst innumerable harrowing scenes with his crazy haircut and gift for physical comedy.

Verdict: Avoid. A very poor sequel with a leading man who’s simply out of his depth.

True Reds is not showing in cinemas, though is available to purchase now on DVD.

Copyright Red News – June 2014