Tag Archives: football

Cool For Hats

rosso

Last seen on the OT terraces sometime in the mid-80’s, the bobble hat has been on the comeback trail for a few years now. It remains the favoured headwear of Scandinavian-looking, beardy types whose natural habitat is Manchester’s Northern Quarter as well as casually minded football fans of a certain vintage. The arctic conditions of the last few months have given rise to significant sightings of bobbles at the match, the nattiest of which are the work of Nick Dydyna, one of the two brothers behind the recently formed Rosso Bianco Nero 1878. Red News sat down for a beer with Nick recently to discuss all things bobble-related.

RN: How did this all start?

RBN: We knew there was a market for quality, United related gear but it just never seems to be on offer. Then about 10 weeks ago we released our first 2 hats which sold steadily via our website. Barney from Red News put an advert in the fanzine, Red Issue followed suit and from there it just took off.

RN: I first became aware of you via Twitter…

RBN: Yeah, Twitter enabled us to spread the word about the product, though what really helped us was that a lot of respected lads quickly bought into the idea. My brother and I had thought about doing this for a long time but we’d never done anything about it, so we just decided to take a chance. It was a bit of a risk but we’ve now sold about 600 hats in 10 weeks…I think the extended winter helped too. We seem to have hit on a bit of a niche which we knew was there, but I couldn’t have predicted we’d do so well, so fast.

RN: The last couple of hats you’ve released have sold out in minutes…

RBN: Yeah, it’s been mad. I think we’re giving people a product with a bit of exclusivity that they know they are not gonna see everywhere. Going forward, that’s what we want to do but it’s hard because people go on our site and since we’ve sold out so fast, there’s nothing available to buy!

We’ve got loads of ideas for next season based on old programmes and old games, there’s plenty to go at. In the meantime we’re working on our first polo shirts and pin badges. For the pin badges we’re working with a designer we met on Twitter, his stuff is really smart…it’s nice to be working with other exclusive, little businesses. With everything we do, we’re trying to use local suppliers and manufacturers.

RN: What about the future?

RBN: First and foremost, we’re really passionate about United so that’s what we want to do despite having had interest from other clubs. That’s baffled me really, we’ve sold hats to Arsenal and Forest fans…the lads from Aberdeen have really got onto it as well as people from overseas.

We’ve thought about perhaps approaching small, independently owned shops maybe Oi Polloi or Ran, someone like that – on a personal level it would be a buzz to see our stuff in a shop one day. We’ve been sounded out by a couple of the stalls at OT to supply them but I think we’re offering something on a different quality level and appealing to a different kind of market. Essentially we’re just making stuff we like ourselves, if other people like it too then that’s great.

www.rossobianconero.com

Copyright Red News – May 2013

www.rednews.co.uk

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Seven Days Too Long

seven days too long

Due to the constant interruptions of international football, it’s taken 3 months for the season to get going fully this time out. Thankfully we’re now properly underway – a dozen league games in, the clocks have gone back and we’re immersed in that reassuringly familiar, metronomic two game a week cycle. Midweek games providing a reason to leave the house for any reason other than work, and the outcome of Saturday/Sunday games (still, pathetically) dictating whether we’ve enjoyed a good weekend or not. Bloody love football, me.

Even by our own exalted standards, the last 4 or 5 weeks take some beating in the entertainment stakes. It’s been kamikaze stuff, calamitous at times and it surely cannot last…but what a ride. One red summed it up perfectly on the forums, saying “It’s brilliant watching United at the moment, but not at the time…if you catch my drift.” I couldn’t agree more. We have defenders who can’t defend, midfielders who can no longer run or tackle, a tactical over-reliance on hopelessly out of form wingers…yet despite these shortcomings we look thrillingly, almost ridiculously potent during those brief periods of play when everything clicks and we start stringing a few passes together.

No matter who provide the opposition, it’s become impossible to decipher which United are going to turn up. There’s the tentative, slow-starting, cautious side who continually attempt to ping balls out to Valencia on the right – a tactic which has become tiresomely predictable of late. Whereas on the other hand, the team look capable of scoring at will when the mood strikes – we’re blessed currently with Van Persie and Hernandez both enjoying periods of form that forwards can only dream of. The pair of them are currently on fire to the extent last season’s successful pairing of Rooney and Welbeck can’t even get a look in.

Having bemoaned both performances and the increasingly stifling tactics employed over the last couple of seasons, the current ‘shackles off’ madness we’re witnessing surely has to be seen as something to cherish. Whether it’s come about by design or accident (and it’s probably the latter), there’s something very ‘Manchester United’ about how we’re currently set up. Take the comeback from 0-2 down at Villa – was there anyone in the country who didn’t expect us to turn things round?

whiteside

Villa Park of course, remains the away ground of choice for many time-served reds. The scene of countless memorable days and nights out in the past, in this era of soulless, identikit stadia it remains an old-school throwback to the days of proper football grounds. Not too far away, numerous drinking spots and crucially, despite the best efforts of the WMP – the fixture has yet to befall the same fate as numerous others and get lumbered with an enforced, early afternoon kick-off. It’s just a shame they won’t triple our allocation so we can make our presence felt off the pitch too…and on it when the opportunity arises (thinking Ruud’s winner in the cup here, clearly).

Birmingham gets a bad rep from many folk, but I’ve always enjoyed the time I’ve spent there and have developed a bit of a soft-spot for the place. The non-Zulu affiliated locals are friendly enough and the city centre itself has never struck me as the out-and-out shithole it’s often dismissed as being. Of course that accent remains a concern, but it’s nothing on a par with the bizarre Welsh/Scouse hybrid that the inhabitants of Stoke are blessed with. Birmingham is alright. Shit in comparison to Manchester, obviously…but it’s alright.

zulu

As regards the match itself, despite barely registering a shot on target during the first hour, you just knew that once Villa had tired and defending a lead became their priority, we were going to see some reward as the game reached a conclusion. It was as obvious as that West Ham away game a couple of years ago, in that you just sensed the comeback was inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, its not exactly relaxed viewing – it’s full-on ‘watch through your fingers’, heart-attack inducing gear…but would you rather have it any other way?

The “United never lose, they run out of time” maxim is usually attributed to Steve McClaren, a motivation-speak soundbite that nicely encapsulates the never-say-die spirit of the ’99 treble side – perhaps even the entire Ferguson era. Evidence of its legacy has never been witnessed so regularly as in recent weeks. Amazingly, despite us only being in mid-November, already this season we’ve recovered to win after going behind on 7 occasions. Our ability to mount a comeback from a losing position has become so accepted in football, the occurrence is now met with an almost blas√© reaction from some commentators.

Sooner or later, one fears, (and I’ve got one eye on the forthcoming derby here) we’re at risk of getting hammered if this continues, which will no doubt prompt a re-think on the current ‘fuck it, we’re Man United, let’s just outscore them’ mindset – we’ll instead start focusing on trivial stuff like defensive stability, keeping possession and perhaps not going 0-2 down every game. Until then, let’s just revel in scorelines and comebacks that are straight out of the 1950’s or FIFA 13. (Two reference points there, y’see? – one for the oldies, one for the youngsters. Smooooooth.)

I don’t wish to appear deliberately downbeat in bringing up the ‘spectre’ of meeting City, but given how things stand at the minute, it’s difficult not to draw parallels with where we were prior to last season’s 6-1 reverse. United looked similarly well set then – City arrived with us fresh off the back of an early season run that had seen us swat aside Chelsea and destroy a sorry-looking Arsenal, all whilst playing a brand of carefree, irreverent football not unlike what we’re witnessing at present.

So how to approach City? As far as I can see there are two distinct options. Either we go there with a reprise of the tactics that were employed at Eastlands back in April, attempting an ill-conceived, containment job with a packed midfield and one up-front in the vain hope of nicking a goal…or even creating a chance this time out. Alternatively, we block any lingering thoughts of anaemic, stilted creativity and go there looking to smash them. The way Manchester United always should do.

Attack! Attack!…Attack! Attack! Attack!

Copyright Red News – November 2012

www.rednews.co.uk

Perfect 10

My first ever meeting with a real life footballer was a cringe inducing, sobering experience which taught me a valuable lesson: never speak to them. I was 14 years old and playing pool in Menorca when I was shocked to discover a familiarish face on an adjacent table. It was that bald bloke who used to play for Southampton. Without a second thought I approached him and politely enquired “Excuse me mate, are you David Armstrong?” “Yes”, he replied. And that was that.

Footballers are strange looking creatures in the flesh. We see them regularly at the match, they’re on the telly constantly and appear plastered across huge billboards advertising whatever stuff they’re paid to advertise. It all builds up a sense of familiarity that is only dispelled when meeting them in real life.

I realised this for the first time after stumbling across Robbie Savage whilst doing the weekly shop a while back. What a weird looking bugger that lad is, the narrowest shoulders and the thinnest arms I’ve ever seen on a man. Now I consider myself a natural athlete and have never felt it necessary to spend even 10 minutes in a gym…but he made my underwhelming frame look like Tarzan in comparison.

A few years ago I bumped into Ole Solskjaer before a gig at the Apollo and was taken aback by how different he looked from how I ‘knew’ him previously. Despite standing 5’10” tall according to Wikipedia, he seemed much smaller…and at risk of sounding all homoerotic about it, his walk alone was enough to set him apart from us mere mortals. No swagger as such, just all lithe and sinewy – he struck me as the sort of bloke who’d make a magnificent diamond thief.

The Premier League today is full of ‘talents’ you could describe as athletes first, footballers second. I’m thinking of players like Glen Johnson or Micah Richards here, limited skills but incredibly well developed athletes who’ve been coached and trained to within an inch of their lives – they have the ability to run up and down for 90 minutes, make bone crunching challenges then do something half decent with the actual ball when the opportunity presents itself. Essentially though, with different guidance and choices – these lads could just as easily be making a living lugging bricks about or playing rugby league.

Wayne Rooney was once hailed as the antidote to players of this ilk filling up Premier League team sheets. Rooney, we were informed, was a resolutely English, Alf Tupperesque throwback to the heroes of yesteryear…an instinctive street footballer raised on egg and chips as opposed to multivitamins and protein shakes. A breath of fresh air and a talent to cherish in a modern game laden with maladroit, muscled freaks. This was the consensus of opinion regarding Rooney the prodigious teenager, however – it can’t really be applied the 26 year old, 2012 version who should by now be approaching his prime.

Rooney’s annus horribilis the season before last and subsequent patchy form last season, (only masked by an exemplary goal return) have led to renewed speculation about his attitude and fitness. Ferguson’s comments (“Wayne is a boy that needs games, you can see that from the frame he’s got”) were innocent enough, but could be interpreted as a timely indication of his private feelings on the matter. Perhaps most tellingly of all, there was no apoplectic Fergie response when his quotes were run by the Mail alongside old pictures of Rooney emerging from the sea whilst on holiday with his similarly ‘big boned’ parents. One is left with the distinct impression that relations between the manager and his star man could be described as ‘strained’ at best.

So Rooney has been left to (ahem) digest all this and in the light of Van Persie’s arrival, faces a potential battle for his place in the team upon regaining form and fitness. Anderson meanwhile, another player with long suspected re-fuelling issues, appears to have abandoned all pretence of being taken seriously and judging by the recent pics posted on his Instagram account, is now experimenting with self-parody.

One might naively expect a player lacking stamina and consistency who’s no longer considered for his national side, to spend the 2 week break putting in some serious shifts at Carrington – possibly attempting to get in peak condition for the season’s resumption. Not Ando, no. Instead he’s having it large in Dubai posting pictures of his dinner on the internet and sporting a shiteating grin that positively screams ‘I don’t give a fuck’. I’ve long lost hope of this clown ever kicking on and fulfilling the promise he held as a teenager – I’ve given up, he’s beaten me and fair play to him. You’ve got to admire the chutzpah of the lad really, despite not being an A grade footballer he’s proven himself to be an international class wind-up merchant.

A player who could never be accused of carrying excess weight is our bequiffed Spaniel in net. Dave De Gea turned in a MOTM performance at Goodison and then (in conjunction with Vidic) followed this up with a spectacular gaffe in the Fulham game. No biggie though, one would have thought, it’s exactly the sort of thing that happens once or twice a season to every keeper. Not according to Ferguson however, who then proceeds to drop him for the Southampton game, happily telling reporters it was all due to the Fulham error and he’d be back in a couple of weeks.

I can’t have been alone in thinking ‘what the fuck?’ at this decision. Last term we only saw the best of De Gea after Lindegaard’s injury had made the keeper selection a no brainer. Constantly switching did nothing to help defensive stability during the early part of the season and only served to highlight his perceived weakness in dealing with crosses – to the extent teams began to target him purposefully. As the season progressed and De Gea’s form and confidence improved, it ceased to be an issue – yet here we are back at square one with the ‘vulnerable young Spaniard’ back in the spotlight. He’s young and he’ll make mistakes, which pretty much everyone accepts…so I fail to see how holding him back and trying to shield him from journeymen cloggers like Rickie Lambert is going to aid his progress.

Due to the Editor’s say-so (those pesky print deadlines again), this article was submitted prior to last weeks game at Anfield. So I’ll conclude by passing on my sincere hopes that the team decided to turn up for the game for the first time in a decade or so and that no reds in attendance felt moved to join in with the fuckwitted #mufcfamily’s call for us to join in with massed, communal singing of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ in support of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. We should respect the scousers for their ongoing fight but never lose sight of the fact that in football terms, they remain the enemy.¬†

Copyright Red News – September 2012

www.rednews.co.uk