I post a lot on twitter about Manchester United. I’m a fan since the mid 80s. I think the moment that sealed the deal for my 8 year old self was watching Norman Whiteside’s FA Cup final goal against Everton.
The drama of the moment was everything that I’d come to love about Utd, even though for much of the early years my fandom, they were far from a great side. They had some great players but were by no means the finished article and so it was difficult to tell which team would turn up. Would they win comfortably or lose embarrassingly. There were enough moments of both to keep you guessing. Then there was the Irish connection with players such as Kevin Moran, Norman Whiteside and the masterful Paul McGrath.
The Ferguson years started inauspiciously. Ferguson had gotten the job on the back of a collapse by Ron Atkinson’s 86 side that had looked like title contenders at the start of the season until they struggled to win a game. Perhaps the dismissal of Atkinson was hasty but much was expected of the young scot who had taken lowly Aberdeen to the European Cup Winners Cup title a few years prior.
I haven’t written a post about football before because it’s more contentious than religion or politics 🙂 The arguments are bitter, nasty and vindictive. I refrained from writing about Utd last season during the Moyes debacle because I honestly felt it was a blip and this seasons would be much better. In a sense, there has been improvement but there’s also been much frustration. The biggest frustration watching Utd now is the sense that the players are better than the performances suggest. A manager’s job involves maximises the performances from the talent at their disposal and as a long time Utd supporter (since the 80s) it has been many years since I’ve seen such disjointed performances and sloppiness. Indeed, Utd haven’t been so poor since the late 80s. The players deserve some blame, and some may have rode the coattails of the great players of the Fergie era, but the manager is not immune from criticism. Here’s what this fan thinks he could do better.
Watching the build-up to the Man Utd v Milan game. I’m a keen Man Utd. supporter for many years and make no apologies for it. Having supported the team during the not so glorious days (Neil Webb anyone?) I can’t be classed a glory hunter. I also think Chelski’s millions are good for the game as it’s improved the overall standard of football in the premiership no end with Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelski playing some fabulous stuff over the past 2 years.
However it’s galling to watch RTE’s coverage of this game. It matters not a whit what these guys see as they always arrive at the same ludicrous conclusions. The game against Roma was a fluke. “Carrick is mediocre”. DID THEY WATCH THE SAME GAME I DID? I’ve never been a fan of Fletcher but he’s not as bad as claimed. Now Dunphy states that Ronaldo is just “hype” and “not a great player”. This opinion was so at odds with the clips we were shown that it was laughable. Equally Dunphy’s been praising Rooney even when Ronaldo’s performance’s have eclipsed his as he’s the “more honest player”. I know football punditry consists of stringing one cliche after another without dribbling on your shirt but for a supposedly intelligent journalist it’s a bit lame….
The problem is that Dunphy is wrong and deep down he knows it. However, he’s built a career on outspoken arrogance so he justifies his points my saying them louder and with greater vehemence.
Combine that with a pundit who’s actually employed by Manchester United’s opponents (Liam Brady) and it’s easy to see why no Utd supporter could reasonably watch this most partisan of football punditry. Yet, part of my TV license fee pays for this “entertainment”.
It’s a shame that a decent man like Johnny Giles has to share a bench with these muppets. He frequently looks like he’s in pain as he winces during Eamonn’s rants and Liam’s Gooner rhetoric. He deserves a break and some new co-workers. Perhaps the NOTW could spare one of the hundred or so models (“lovely girls” in Fr. Ted speak) that are so vital in explaining complex national issues like the health service or why drink driving is bad. They’d arguably be more sensible than Dunphy.
I wonder if An Taoiseach writes them another letter of complaint they’ll stop their “alarmist” and “irresponsible” punditry 🙂