Why I would accept barren times at United


Manchester-United-home-kit-201314-1933219Since the end of last season, I’ve lived in a sort of limbo in which I seek stories about United less enthusiastically than I normally would have done. The momentous end to the 2012-13 campaign culminating with Fergie’s departure took me into uncharted territory as, for the first time in my lifetime, I experienced a strange sense of detachment from the game.

I, like many others, had not foreseen Sir Alex’s decision to leave the club and after David Moyes was appointed, my interest on all the things United somewhat took a different route, one that I had never experienced before, yet a very interesting one.

Obviously, I’m still as mad as it gets about the club and everything it stands for (which, deluded romantic that I am, is working class men watching football on a Saturday afternoon, rather than the flurry of new sponsorship deals United have secured over the last couple of months) but while, in previous summers, I’d be avidly consuming and debating over every inch of newspapers’ columns, this year, so far, I have merely been an interested observer, letting all the Reds – ITK and not – pouring out their opinions, verdicts and predictions about next season.

Football generates discussions and awakes opinions like very few other sports do and United fans have long been rather divided on a number of topics, from on-pitch decisions to boardroom policy and I, rather naively as it turned out, expected the end of Sir Alex’s era to bring the majority of the fans together in support of David Moyes.

Alas, I was wrong. Or, at least, I was wrong to an extent.

The new United manager took the reins less than three weeks ago and has already had the luxury of having everyone and their grandma advising him on what he ought and oughtn’t to do at Manchester United Football Club. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for opinionated fans who provide constructive criticism, but I tend to believe that a manager who’s coached professionally for over 15 years is rather more suited to call the shots than you and I, or any member of the media out there, for that matter.

If we all were the tactical geniuses we secretly believe ourselves to be, we wouldn’t be doing our job, we would be in the Old Trafford dressing room on a Saturday afternoon at 2.50pm. Instead at 2.50pm we’re either hurrying towards the turnstiles after one drink too many at the pub, positioning our backside on our favourite armchair or trying to catch a glimpse of the screen down our local pub (OK, technically that doesn’t happen on a Saturday afternoon, but you get the picture).

Of course we would love to see the likes of Thiago, Strootman and just about anybody who could strengthen our terminally ill midfield (“but we’ve won the league last season!” i hear you screaming), provide adequate support for Robin Van Persie up-front or even, dare I say it, beat the first man when taking a set-piece.

But, for all we know, we might find ourselves in August hugely disappointed at the squad David Moyes has assembled and pedantically cursing him for having the cheek of con Sir Alex into appointing him as his successor. On the other hand, Moyes might sign all the players we required and we could still end up empty handed because, as our neighbours across town and a certain Russian in South West London blissfully continue to ignore, teams need time to gel together in order to be successful.

United beaten by City to cement relegation in 1974Which brings us to a crucial shadow that, personally, I believe will be casted over United’s head for a while. Following 26 unparalleled successful years we might as well be poised to experience a couple of barren years for, you see, Manchester United Football Club, like any other sporting organisation in the world, don’t have the God-given right of being successful.

It seems to me that many Reds have either failed to grasp the concept or simply refuse to entertain the prospect like a teenager on the verge of returning to school disguising himself into thinking that the holiday will last another week. The Twitter account UtdBeforeFergie (which, for the record, I find rather cringeworthy) recently asked its followers if they would swap a couple of trophy-less seasons if that meant getting rid of the glory hunters that infest our club.

I, for one, would make that swap without batting an eyelid for this transfer window has highlighted how spoilt we have grown during Fergie’s era, to the point where some people pondered if the league title was worth celebrating for “it was just another title”, rather than jumping with excitement and milking the moment like a 71-year-old man used to do.

I’ve been bracing myself for a couple of hard seasons, I would even welcome them, in fact, for an unsuccessful spell for United would allow fans to reclaim part of the club they so dearly love. It would be uncharted territory, but it would provide a reality check for the many spoilt, never-happy-no-matter-what fans that have crippled our club for so long.

United fans,are still in the largely enviable position of considering the potential signing of an England left-back as poor piece of business, while other clubs would be delighted to be presented with such an opportunity – which is not, in any way, form or shape me hoping David Moyes decides that a couple of decent players are all United require. I am fully behind David Moyes, and I’m sure many other Reds are too, but I’m also fully aware that he might not have the same pull on players that Sir Alex Ferguson had which, theoretically at least, could see us missing out on some of our transfer targets

Of course, given our club’s tradition, we consider donning the red shirt a privilege that should be exclusive only to a rather limited group of players (a group to which the likes of Anderson, Ashley Young and Federico Macheda do not belong) and, given the expectations our success under Sir Alex has bred, we are desperate for world class signings.

However, just as far as winning trophies is concerned, United are not entitled to any particular preferential route when it comes to sign players. Tradition, success and glamour count only for a handful of players these days, while the overwhelming majority are attracted by larger paychecks, there’s no way around it.

Would I like to see United strengthen their midfield in the summer? Too right I will. Do I believe it will happen? I believe that Moyes will do anything he can to make sure his squad will be as ready as it can be come August 17, and if that means that we’ll have to rescale our expectations, then so be it. Football is a roller-coaster ride and the more prepared a club and its fans are to the deal with the lows, the quicker they are likely to experience the highs again.

I sincerely hope we’ll be challenging for trophies from the start, but meanwhile those who have already written Moyes off might want to entertain the idea of jumping on a shinier bandwagon for the time being, from when they’ll undoubtedly look on to us as we negotiate our way through a sea of nervous breakdowns and tears.

Many among those who would rather see the back Moyes that having him in charge and who bemoan a lack of activity in the transfer window, are the same individuals who branded the anti-Glazer protest as a pathetic and moronic attempt to solve what was, in their eyes at least, a non issue.

United have been extremely successful in recent years, despite some rather dubious decisions in the transfer market but, now that Sir Alex is no longer available to rectify some of those mistakes – some of which had to be attributed to him anyway – things might be about to take a turn for the worst.

Laying the blame at David Moyes’s door would be utterly idiotic. It would also go a long way in measuring how spoilt some fans have grown.

Do we support United for what they’ve won or for what they are? For me, it’s a no brainer.




  1. Great article Dan, well written.
    We have been spolit, there is no doubt about that. Fergie was a genius in so many ways, but as a man manager he was incredible.
    Rumours are we are now going after Fabregas. Does anyone acutally think we will get him, really?!

    • Cheers mate. I’ve seen the Fabregas rumours myself but I can’t see Barcelona letting him go, particularly now that they’ve lost Thiago. Furthermore Arsenal have a £25m first-option clause.

    • @Stephen: “Great article Dan, well written?”


      Aren’t you the same spoilt United fan who rushed to the Red Rants blog after our first pre-season tour defeat for the chance to be the first one to say “Moyes out?”

      • @The_Philosopher: Are you calling me a spoilt fan? I don’t think so, I have been to watch United hoem away for years way before Fergie had won a jot.
        The Moyes out jibe was a joke, give me strength…. 🙄

  2. I believe in every word u wrote Dan.. This is exactly how I feel….I feel it’s time for us to throw all our support and blessings for Manchester United in this phase of change. All United fans need to appreciate the hard work put in by Sir Alex and all of his troops to bestow upon the United faithful the bragging rights we have enjoyed for so many years decades actually…in the process United went about destroying Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and we all know who is next…for me personally it’s been 12 years supporting United and I am aware there are fans who have followed United since the days of the Busby Babes. Therefore we know that United never are really down and out…WE ALWAYS COME BACK…That’s what I believe….As Dan has so wittingly pointed out and verified, we need to stick with United through all the tortures we could imagine…not tweet, blog or remotely incline or insinuate that people at the club are not doing their job. Since we are in a period of transition, and probably the biggest one in the clubs recent history, we can be forgiven to have doubts creep in our heads…but all these years of winning back to back has to get us to appreciate this great team and all the people behind it. One trophy less season for United will actually be a blessing in disguise. It will only awaken the sleeping dragon….that is Manchester United…..BELIEVE

  3. “At United, we strive for perfection, and if we fail, we might just have to settle for excellence” – Sir Matt Busby

    You know me guys, in the past I spent a lot of time pleading for my beloved United to wake up and smell the coffee, but the club’s new corporate identity is so far detached from myself that I no longer find the enthusiasm to put in the emotional effort that they obviously would rather not reciprocate. Wake me up when Moyes/United Board has the decency to resign by refusing to bring down a name as great as Manchester United.

  4. Nice Article – sums up alot of what I had been thinking.
    I am happy with the appointment of Moyes, as you say 15 years of management, known to be a good man manager, BRITISH.
    I would accept barren times this season as long as we are still in the mix at the end of the season (last 16 champions league) (top 3 PL finish)(last 8 Fa Cup). However if it were to extend into a second season there would have to be drastic changes, as a club of our resources and capabilites cannot go 2 years without silverware.
    I do not think we will have an issue with player pulling power. When I read 3 weeks ago that Bayern were in for Thiago aswell, I knew instantly he would end up there,he had a good relationship with Pep, who had faith in him. Barcelona even said we had not made any bids for him which for me personally means I can put the subject out of my mind.
    (Also, would I swap a few barren years to get rid of Glory Hunters? – no chance! they would be back again as soon as we became successful again so it would be a pointless exercise!)

  5. We won the league last season they say. Our squad can’t be that bad.

    Mean while back at Bayern Munchen they won the champion’s league and two domestic trophies and they still feel the need to buy quality players. A treble isn’t good enough over there. . .

    I think while we’re at the top lets fight tooth and nail to remain at the top. Yeah sure we don’t have a God given right to be successful but we have the platform right now. Lets use it. Why let it slip.

    We’re in a better position than Totenham in terms of winning titles. But they have been fighting hard to keep climbing the ladder. So lets not lose sight of what we do have as a club.

    I’m also prepared for us to suffer a few barren seasons. But we had better be playing some good football. And we had better be growing in that time.

    But I wonder what Rio Ferdinand would say to the idea of taking a dip in terms of winning trophies? The whole team’s mentality is geared for winning. This whole club under Ferguson has grown to the point where winning is the only thing that matters. It has become our nature.

    But I hear you with regards to the spoilt brat thing when it comes to some of us not celebrating titles. We have to see every title as special.

    We have a much better platform than any other team in England from which to build for further success. Lets not squander our advantage is all I’m saying.

  6. Writer is right on one thing. EVeryone’s got their opinion.
    However we’re “spoilt”? Christ. Its the price of success. Do we have to do a liverpool in order not to feel bad about being ambitious ? Barren times. Fuck no. but thats just me

    • @fatboy: Exactly mate. Ask City fans if they’d like to go back to the barren times. Like hell they would! The only people who fantasise about United going through a barren period in order to shake off a few gloryhunters are people who started supporting United in the 90’s (or later) and are themselves “spoiled” by success. Ask any Red who lived through the hard times of the 70s if he’d like United to plum those depths again and he’d slap you in the face. The ultimate irony of this article is that the writer is himself a spoiled fan who doesn’t appreciate how lucky he is to have seen the most successful period in United’s history.

      • @The Truth: Football now is a very different animal. The infrastructure at United should see us finish in the top 4 for season to come. The real worry is if we slip out, we could end up like Liverpool and fall down the league.The Glazer model is Champions League football is must. Filling the stadium also generates a vast income, but that is never a guarantee. We have been so lucky under Fergie that we have competed for the League for 2 years, which is un heard of. The man was a genius, but we have almost got used to this. Under Moyes we really do not know what to expect, we know the man has dignity, hence him being the choice instead of Mourinho, but can he win? This is the real concern, winning titles is hard and are not easy .Fergie was a master at it, he knew when to rotate and his substitutions would 9 times out of 10 get us of of a hole when needed. Time will tell, lets keep our fingers crossed at least we are a side of winners.

      • @The Truth: Very valid point mate, obviously I’d rather avoid barren times myself and, having been brought up in a family of Reds, I’m not eager to experience a dip in performances/expectations. As for me being spoilt, well that was the whole point of the article, wasn’t it? I can’t tell you how happy I’m to have lived through the last 25 years, unfortunately I feel that some fans have come to take success for granted and that, no matter how old one is, is never a good thing, is it?

        • @Dan: Yeah but mate, just because we have some whoppers among our support is no reason to hope the club suffers a downturn of fortunes.

    • @fatboy: I completely agree mate, I wasn’t advocating a return to barren times just for moral high ground’s sake. However, I feel it’d be mint if we could get rid of the arrogance that permeates many Reds…

    • @Stephen: Would be a bloody fantastic signing but no way Barca will let him go after losing Thiago.
      Its a shame that its not the fans who call the shots as for whatever silly reason the barca fans absolutely loathe Fabregas 😯
      Fucking bizarre I know but seriously every barca I’ve seen on various blogs doesn’t have a good word to say about him. If it was up to them he’d be odds on to join us.
      Whilst its good to see we are making moves, I do think were being unrealistic with the players we’re going after.
      Thiago and Fabregas- you know that there’s a bloody good chance we’re going to miss out.
      Its alright atleast enquiring (you never know, we might get lucky) but I do think we should start casting our eyes more towards the likes of Lars Bender and Nemanja Matic who we have a better chance of signing.
      They might not have the star appeal of Thiago, Fabregas, Vidal etc but they are fantastic players in their own right and would be good signings.

        • @Stephen: :mrgreen: 😆 Id probably join you mate 😆
          Not gonna happen but just talking hypothetically as your a rooney fan- Would you take Fabregas in a straight swap for rooney?


          That’s pretty sexy.

  7. Im one of the so called sky generation of fans who has only ever known the big man as manager of this club, so success has been all I’ve ever known.
    Being a Manc born and bred though, and growing up in a family of United fans I’ve always known never to take success for granted. My dad has many a time regaled me with tales of his experiences in those barren years of the 70s and 80s.
    So I know we have no divine right to win everything and be the most successful club- nobody does.
    Saying that, would I be disappointed if over the next few years we saw little to no success? You bet I would.
    For the short term atleast I expect us to keep challenging. As lacking as this squad is, I don’t believe you could call it anything other than bad management if the team that almost walked the league at a canter, found itself 20 points behind barely managing top 3 a year later.
    It’d just be bad management.
    For next season though what id like to see more than anything else, is some good football.
    Some of you on here might think im over reacting when I talk about the quality of our football (I’ve been critical of it for years) but I honestly just don’t find it very enjoyable and haven’t for a few years now (and that’s come during a period where we’ve had one of our most successful spells on the pitch).
    If Moyes can come in, address the midfield, get us playing the way this great club should and indeed always used to, gives some of the younger lads like fabio, smalling, jones, Januzaj, zaha etc their fair share of chances, whilst atleast keeping us challenging for the top trophies, then I think we can say its a good start.

  8. Brilliant article by Dan… We have had fabulous times with Fergie: from Rotterdam to RVP (and in my opinion the best ever: the Cantona years). However, the times we had in the 70s and 80s were seen as ‘barren’. But we didn’t half have some fun and some great moments.
    Would fans now swap a title win and a sanitized OT full of pricks and daytrippers for how it was back in 1976? That includes everything from the style of play (Merlin and Stevie on the wings!), the swagger and attitude (on and off the pitch), and of course the fearsome, mighty, terrifying (to the opposition) atmosphere we once had? I would, like a bloody shot! I wish we still had Pancho and Jimmy Greenhoff, instead of that whining, spoilt, whoremongering fat Scouse bastard we have got now!I would even relive Bobby Stokes and his offside goal to have the club back to how it was then ,and those filthy American carbpetbaggers out of our faces.

  9. A superb article,thanks.While I would love to see United win every single trophy that’s on offer,the voice of reason inside me says that is not going to happen.what I refuse to do is follow the sorry liverpool supporters route of pointing out to past succeses whilst remaining ignorant to the present set of circumstances.United is a club with a hunger for winning and I believe that David Moyes can do the job.I refuse to compare him to Sir Alex.Hell,I refuse to compare anyone to Sir Alex!he is his own man and must do what he feels is best for the team.I have full confidence that,eventually,he will find his rhythm and build his own legacy at Man Utd.if that means that we go a few seasons without silverware,as hard as it may be to accept,so be it.I was three years old when Sir Alex became manager of united,so he is all I know.however,I am prepared to be patient whilst the new Boss makes his mark.The good times will come eventually.God Bless United!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *