Never in my wildest nightmares, never ever did I expect this. And yet it happened. Last night I played a match between Manchester United and Manchester City with FIFA 12 on my XBOX 360 as a precursor to the real deal which would be happening just 12 hours later UK time. I like to play our upcoming opponents as a tradition just before the real match just to get a visual feeling for what to expect. The result in my game made me laugh because I thought the chances of that score line happening was a million to one. United won 5-1 and totally humiliated City from the kickoff. What do you expect from a freaking video game anyway, realism?
Fast-forward fifteen hours as I woke up an hour after the match had concluded. These days there is no way I will wake up at 4:30am Pacific Time to watch this current version of Manchester United play anyone, sorry. So I turned on the tv and my Tivo and am ready to watch what I am confident will be an epic clash and hopefully a positive result for the home side. And what did I have to look forward to not only brought tears to my eyes but humiliation, horror, shock, dismay, panic and above all total and utter disgust. And those were my positive feelings.
Today’s result was the shot heard round the world. Germany’s blitzkrieg into Poland and France, Napoleon’s
sacking of a deserted Moscow and best of all comparisons William the Conqueror arriving on British shores to claim England as Norman. Today Manchester City shocked the footballing world. They not only beat cross-town derby rivals Manchester United but came in on their steeds and totally humiliated and destroyed a once proud and great side by a score of 6-1. The worst defeat by a Manchester United team ever at home and the worst ever loss suffered under twenty five years of leadership from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Make no mistake about it, today was Manchester City’s coming out party. Today they made their claim not only for the title but plastered on the billboards that this was an official changing of the guard and that this Northern town in England and all of England for that matter had a new sheriff in charge. Our noisy neighbours have taken charge of the town and look ready to rule it for a very long time. Proof positive that money can buy you anything and that sitting pat and doing nothing to improve your weaknesses will eventually come around and bite you on your big Scottish ass Fergie.
1-6….1-6….1-6. That score line will haunt me in my dreams and in my soul for years to come much like 8-2 will haunt Arsenal fans for decades to come. How do I and how do all of you get through the humiliation and the feeling of shame and total shock? And you know what bothers me more than anything? Fergie will sluff it off and make no big deal from it, make excuses like bringing up the red card and he will go on doing what he is doing, which is suffer from the incurable denial that has marred his legacy and tenure as manager of this once great team. Fact is United needed this wakeup call and a major lesson in reality. They needed to know that the way they were playing of late would finally have consequences and that it would finally bite them on the ass with a big time loss, not a 2-0 win against a Romanian minnow or an undeserved point vs a league minnow. Mediocrity caught up with them today when they faced a club totally in sync and ready to knock them of their perch. United have serious problems and have had these problems for a few years now and nothing has been done to rectify the situation.
For years now supporter like myself have been crying for the Glazer’s to show us the money and for Fergie to get his head out of Malcolm Glazer’s ass and to buy not one but at least two quality central midfielders. Hell why stop there. We needed a new Left back, a right back and an assistant manager that actually had a sense for strategy, tactics and understanding the continental game. What we got was another winger, and a goalkeeper and in the process forgot what was the bane of this club’s existence, the lack of any control from a central midfield that would be described a pedestrian and certainly well short of world class by most.
There were many warning signs that led up to this demolition. A number of terrible performances where we never lost but should have. Benfica, FC Basel, Stoke and Otelul. Even our resounding wins over Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal showed us all that something was wrong with this club’s defence. Going into this game David De Gea had made the most saves of any goalkeeper in the English Premier League. That is a shocking revelation because it taps into my point that in twenty five years under Fergie never has United’s defence been in such shambles and in such disarray as it is today. We are leaking goals at an exponential rate. Yes to be fair we have had way more than our share of injuries as Vidic, Ferdinand, the Twins have all been out for prolonged periods of time. This has forced Fergie to utilize muppets like Jonny Evans way to often for my liking and the fact that we do not have a consistent starting back four but a hodge podge rotation of healthy defenders was going to eventual come round and really bite us in the unmentionables.
Rotation has become a word equivalent to any four letter word not currently in any English dictionary. Lets face it, I am not the only one who is not a fan of Fergie’s rotation policy but until this season his rotation system was limited to wingers, midfielders and forwards and not to our back four. Because of injuries this has changed this season and because of it, we are leaking goals as if the great ship United has had just hit an iceberg off the coast of Greenland. What seemed once unsinkable, or should I say unthinkable has become a reality. We are no longer the top dog or the dominant team in English football. The Glazer’s and their penny pinching ways and Fergie’s stubborn streak has started to challenge Arsene Wenger’s in not doing what is needed to keep this team on top.
For years I as a supporter made a list of players that we should go and buy because we needed them and because I felt they were not just world class, but were players that would fit in well and make us truly unbeatable. Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Manuel Neuer, Bastion Schweinsteiger, Fabio Coentrao, Wesley Sneijder, Mesut Ozil, Mario Goestz, Jack Rodwell, Johan Gourcuff et etc etc have been rumoured by the media or mentioned by me as players who would really improve this side. Yet none of these players were signed and they all have done well plying their trade for other teams. Silva and Aguero of course really hurt because not only did we have a chance to sign them knowing that they wanted to play for us, but that our arch enemy bought them instead and that they both had such a hand in today’s humiliation cannot be underestimated.
So it’s obvious from a personnel point of view we are not as good as City and certainly not as deep, but there is more to this changing of the guard and this humiliation than just the quality of the players. Today was evidence that perhaps, just perhaps United players have quit on Fergie and refuse to give that little extra. At no time in recent memory have I seen a Manchester United team lack the snap and hunger for the ball. The desire and determination to hunt down a ball and beat their opponent to it. Nobody to take charge once we were one man down and settle the club’s frayed nerves. Instead, United did the unthinkable under Fergie, they quit. I have never seen a Manchester united club under Sir Alex quit before. They usually fight no matter what the score is and try to make the best of a bad situation. This garbage I expect from Leeds United or Newcastle United.
Welcome to the new Manchester United. No more hairdryer moments at halftime these days. Instead our manager looks on red faced with him sitting on his hands doing nothing to reinforce confidence or desire on a team that at 0-3 down needed an injection of wisdom, hunger and desire. Lets not make excuses for the red card which was no surprise because it has become a calling card for Jonny Evans as he is game in and game out incapable of doing even a decent job and is found wanting in so many key areas of the defensive game. When will Fergie clue in that this Irish lad is total crap and ship him off to Sunderland?
We have gone down to ten before. In fact many times and I do not recall us quitting or losing our focus and resolve so much so that we would capitulate so badly and stop working. We looked like a team collectively caught in the headlights like a deer in a lonely country road. My God to lose the plot that badly is just not a United thing to do and is not what a Sir Alex Ferguson team does. But we should have seen it coming. We never worked hard vs Basel, Benfica, Stoke or Otelul and their lack of quality allowed us to survive all those games with just minor embarrassment and no losses. I knew that if we continued like this our bubble would eventually burst, but God almighty, not like this. We completely imploded.
Yesterday I actually predicted we would lose 2-1. I had a bad feeling about the game and having watched City play this season, I was a believer that they were the true deal and that they knew collectively that their season hinged on a positive result at Old Trafford. Had they lost this match the critics would have come out and let them have it. Everyone would have called them pretenders to the throne and self-doubt would have strangled them due to their inexperience at being top dog. In the same light I expected United to mount a energetic and fierce defence of their crown at home. The last few games were evidence that perhaps the players and Fergie were saving up energy for a full out assault on Joe Hart and City’s less than great back four. How wrong could I have been? Our lack of hunger, urgency and ideas mad us look like bloody Wolves, not United. 6-1 at City would have been hard enough to stomach, but losing like that at Old Trafford is surreal and totally unacceptable.
What am I supposed to think? I know my critics right now are preparing salvo’s directed at me and my negative review of this epic match. They dislike my negativity and they constantly wrongfully accuse me of hair trigger knee jerk reactions. Fact is the truth hurts and I speak the truth whether my critics want to accept that or not. I do not have Red Devils emblazoned on my chest and I was not born in Salford where you grow up a United fanatic no matter what the result. I am one of those undesirables I’m afraid. I am a foreign supporter who has no real family ties or birthright connecting me to United. No, what connected me to United some 35 years ago was due to good taste and a love for attacking and attractive football. And for the most part over of the past 25 years, Ferguson’s United clubs have delivered in droves. But things have not looked so good and attractive over the past few years despite our success.
My anger and my negativity towards this club began the day Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid. Regardless of the reasons and Ronny’s desires, that day marked the beginning of the end of this long and distinguished dynasty period for United. Thanks to the experience and smarts of the old dog Fergie, the only real embarrassments we experienced since that terrible day was the humiliation we suffered at Wembley to Barcelona. Yes we would lose the odd match in the league but overall, we won a league title and looked to be building another super club despite our weaknesses and our owners reluctance to really up the anti by securing world class talent like Sneijder, Ozil and a few others due to payroll limitations.
I think we all were led into a false sense of stability by the way the club started the season. Scoring goals at an incredible rate and playing champagne football on the way to their greatest start to the season after five matches. But even so, those great results had us doubting our defence because in all those big victories we leaked goals and many goal scoring opportunities for those beaten opponents. United clubs of the past were usually rock solid in the back and even if we scored 4 or 5 goals in a game, we shut the lid on our opponents and rarely gave up a goal yet even a goal scoring chance when we were at the top of our game. This current club has a lack of discipline and disjointedness in the back four that is alarming and incredibly suspect. David De Gea gave up six goals today and the truth is I cannot really blame him for any of them because our defending was totally amateur hour. Rio Ferdinand was the worst of the worse and it beckons the question we all dread to ask, is he finished?
After such a long and painful pouring out of my heart and spleen I usually take some time to offer up quotes from our esteemed manager and even a player or two but frankly, I’m not going to do it today. I don’t want to hear what Fergie has to say. I want no excuses, no fingers pointed at the referee, no sluffing off the loss due to a red card or statements that this just football and these things happen. Fact is these things do happen, but not to Manchester United.
My feeling on this loss and this team has really been festering for ages if not years now. And yet it seems that almost week after week Fergie would find a way to keep my fears at a distance and only frustrate me by the lack of style exhibited as we were still getting the points and winning silverware. Mr. Negativity was starting to get on people’s nerves so much so that one individual sang for my dismissal last week as my writing started to affect him in a terrible way. To him and other like-minded wimps I say too bad, the truth hurts and reality is often a dish served cold. I make no apologies for my decent or my anger towards the club, the manager and the ownership of this club. Today they let me down like they have never let me down before. I have been a loyal if spoilt supporter for a long time now and this result just made me physically ill and embarrassed to leave my house. This game has soured me on the sport of football as I have no desire to watch any games or play any games on FIFA 12 for a long time because I frankly feel so disheartened, disenchanted and so frustrated by the current state of affairs that it would take a really great run of good form to keep my head from hanging for years to come. Today we were all swept away by a roaring fifty foot powder blue tsunami and it left most of us battered beaten and faithless.
Things need to be done and yes, panic should not be part of that. I truly believe Fergie will right the ship of this I am sure, but will we go on from this and win the league or any other trophy for that matter? Seriously, I rather doubt it. City will not go undefeated and they will have bumps in the road that might help us in catching them but my gut feeling is we won’t. We just aren’t that good and our defence is a joke, which I’m not so sure can be fixed soon enough to prevent a slide down the standings. These are trying times for united and may be the beginning of the end of Fergie’s reign at the top of English football. All good things must eventually come to an end and our inability to pinpoint problems, correct them and improve has me seriously doubting whether we will win anything this season or next. Then again I wouldn’t put it past Fergie to have a loss like this wake us up and allow Fergie to motivate and reconstitute this squad for a late run, which might lead to glory again. If anyone can turn this embarrassment around it’s Fergie. And if there is any team capable of collapsing and breaking their supporters hearts it’s Manchester City. A terrible loss and a day when our noisy neighbour broke into our home and ransacked it but the fact is it’s a long season and United have the experience and the character to get beyond this and leave this humiliation behind them. God I certainly hope so. It’s squeaky bum time yet again.