As a Manchester United fan there were many things to be optimistic about at the start of the 2014/15 season. The most prominent of these was unquestionably that David Moyes was not our manager. He of the wide eyes, panic-striken gurn, small-club mentality, rigid, ineffective tactics and car-crash press conferences had long been dispatched. One man also thankfully not in the hot-seat was Sir Ryan of the Giggs, winner of more medals in the last 25 years than Steven Gerrard has had hot dinners. Or something like that. I forget. A United legend with absolutely no experience as a manager who caused nightmare visions of a future with Clevs, Fletch and Rio featuring prominently. Instead he would become a coach rather than do the entirely sensible thing and poddle off to manage Stalybridge or Hyde and build a body of experience, man-management skills and success before returning and making us sob with joy at the sheer romance of a legendary player returning us to Fergiesque levels of footballing and sexual pleasure. Bad decision Ryan. Good decision Ed.
Instead, the new omnipotent life-form who would steer the limping ship into calm waters (like what I did there Sepp?) would be the magnificent egotist Louis Van Gaal of Ajax, Barca, AZ Alkmaar (not very famous at all) and Bayern München fame, serial domestic title winner and conqueror of the continent of Europe. I doubt you’ll have heard this story, but he once exposed his testicles to his Bayern team, to demonstrate how big they were. What a guy. The only hitch in this masterplan was that he was managing Holland at the World Cup and would be unable to take up the position until July. C’est la vie. Instead we all got to watch with increasing levels of orgasmotron as he guided a modest squad to third place in Brazil, rumping World Champions Spain 5-1 and sub-consciously fooling us into believing that every one of their subsequent performances were works of art, when in fact they were largely bilge. But Louis doesn’t mind bilge if it wins him sh*t, and who am I to argue? Particularly joyous was his decision to bring on Tim Krul purely for a penalty shootout against Costa Rica. The Newcastle player did a handstand and one-armed press-up before each of his two saves (he didn’t) and Holland were victorious. So much excitement.
With the World Cup finally over Louis jetted in to sunny Manchester with a grin that said, “I’m the f*cking Don”, and subtly warned us that we shouldn’t expect too much because the team is crap, or something like that. In came Ander Herrera, a wonderful, smiley, Mata-seducing treat of a midfielder and Luke Shaw, for a not at all over-priced £30m. Louis pretended he’d heard of the latter. Ed Woodward was on fire. But then nothing, for ages. Reports suggested that Louis had vetoed deals for Toni Kroos and Cesc Fabregas. One suspects it may have been the players who did the vetoing.This was a little concerning, because the team still looked proper rubbish, even though they were crowned Champions of the known Universe in pre-season. That concern was justified, as Swansea hitch-hiked up to Old Trafford for the season’s opener and made a haplessly 3-5-2 formationed and injury ravaged United look silly by winning 2-1. A 53rd minute equaliser from Wayne Rooney appeared as if it may lift the side from its slumber and inspire a fine comeback, but Van Gaal took off the dangerous, positive, technically gifted and forward-thinking Ander Herrera and brought on the lumbering oaf that is Marouane Fellaini in central-midfield. The Red Sea duly parted, although it was Gylfi Sigurdsson with the supernatural powers. Having failed to sufficiently bolster a predictably injury-ravaged defence Tyler Blackett found himself on the pitch, having previously flopped on loan at Blackpool and Birmingham (where he was described by several on a Blues forum as the worst player they’d ever seen at the club). Harsh. He wasn’t that bad, although his misplaced pass would ultimately lead to the winning goal. Overall it was a bit rubbish, the absence of Michael Carrick through a long-term injury proving to be a particularly big blow.
Fortunately United had an easy set of fixtures to start the season with and would no doubt swiftly make amends. Or not. An ugly draw at Sunderland was followed up by a team of ‘probably-won’t-bes’ and ‘just please for the love of God go aways’ getting roughly violated 4-0 at MK Dons. Louis sat extremely still indeed, realising, no doubt, just how sh*t his new squad players were. He phoned Ed and each was dispatched by a single shot to the temple and their bodies were buried in shallow graves in the desert. Fortunately help was at hand as Woody, spurred on by the receipt of a bullet in the post from an unknown sender in Florida, got back to signing ALL the players. Defender Marcos Rojo joined from Sporting, a deal so complicated that Duncan Castles told us it would be held up by legal action until 2087. A few days later the Argentine signed and turned out to be a RIGHT LAD. Also inbound was Daley Blind, he of the beautiful face, beautiful locks and beautiful girlfriend. A beautiful man. Also the slowest two-legged creature ever to walk the face of the Earth. But this wasn’t a problem, because he’s beautiful and makes even the most staunchly hetero swoon.
Still, we were yet to see the money shot. Ed flopped out his mushroom-cock and spaffed money over Real Madrid’s Champions League final man-of-the-match Angel Di Maria and Monaco’s swarthy Adonis LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO Radamel Falcaooooo. No matter that he’d only just returned from a serious knee injury. He was going to score 50 goals at least. Maybe more. An epically patronising Geoff Shreeves showed him around the United dressing room as if he’d just become the first man on f*cking Mars. LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO Radamel tried his hardest to look humbled by the whole experience. Tiny slivers of ear, hair and face in the back of black Chevvys have never been so exciting and we quickly got used to sight of Jorge Mendes and his ‘evil genius’ grin. With Ed in his thrall his wallet was further bulging by the second. He’d later reveal to friends that Woody had offered him a list of ‘specials’ to close the deal, but that he’d declined (he didn’t). Out went Danny Welbeck to Arsenal, prompting half of the press-pack to declare that the club had lost it’s soul. Arsenal fans did what Arsenal fans do, Christened him the new Thierry Henry, pretended they’d never called him sh*te before and declared that he had the potential to be a world class centre forward. Jamie Redc*nt described it as the ‘signing of the century’ and Paul Merson masturbated on-air. By the end of the season the jokes would be on them. Actually, they were at the time too. Ha! Cretins. Welbeck wanted to be a striker. Within a few months of profligacy he was shifted out wide, as he had been at United, where he became a limited winger, as he had been at United, and then a substitute, as he had been at United. Who knew?
Di Maria made his debut in the next match at Burnley, immediately showing his class and vision. Had Robin Van Persie been half the player he was in 2012/13 he’d had hungrily gobbled up a couple of goals after being set up by the Argentine. But he didn’t, because his legs are starting to fall off. Unfortunately the rest of his teammates followed the Dutchman’s lead and the result was a dire goalless draw. This was no time to panic though. Louis had matters in hand. At home to a QPR side we didn’t know was as truly bobbins as we do now was deconstructed by a flowing, pacy, dominant performance in a new 4-4-2 diamond formation. Di Maria terrorised the visitors from a left midfield role and Ander Herrera demonstrated the terrific form that would later get him dropped. ‘Huzzah’, we thought, ‘Premier League, feel our WRATH’. And my God, after that it did feel our WRATH. For 62 minutes. With LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO Radamel Falcaoooo starting for the first time at Leicester a scintillating attacking first hour saw United race in to a 3-1 lead, the second goal coming from a quite frankly ludicrous sand wedge straight in to the hole from Di Maria. ‘Sweet Baby Jesus, he’s good’, we thought. Then Mark Cockonhishead awarded Leicester a ridiculous penalty after Jamie Vardy tried to shag a divot and things rather fell apart. At 3-2 the game was still in United’s hands. At 3-5, 17 minutes later, not so much. Bad one. Very, very bad one indeed. Leicester wouldn’t win again for months.
I’m still scarred. Louis was scarred. He vowed never to play attacking football ever again, a promise he nearly made good on. From then until the defeat of Hull on 29th November pragmatism would reign. Injuries meant that Van Gaal was forced to pull a boy off the street to play at centre-back against West Ham and Everton. The boy he found was called Patrick McNair of the North of the Isles. Patrick McNair of the North of the Isles turned out to be perfectly competent, OR SO HE PRETENDED, as United dispatched both 2-1 at Old Trafford. Against the men made of toffee Di Maria scored again and LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO LO Radamel Falcaoooo scored his first goal for the club from about 8 yards, which is about 4 yards farther out than he would score from again. But the man of the match was everyone’s favourite llama, David Please Don’t Go De Gea, saving a penalty and making a simply stupendous save to deny the visitors at the death. Go go gadget arms!
Despite the wins United’s form remained patchy. Marouane Fellaini came on to help to save the game in a 2-2 draw at West Brom and a brighter United got what they deserved with an injury time equaliser at home to Chelsea scored by Robin Van Persie, from a position which required him to do no running or controlling whatsoever, fortunately. Then came City and the welcome return of Michael Carrick. To summarise, the Berties should have had at least 18 penalties and won the game through a Sergio Aguero strike. United found themselves reduced to ten men after Chris Smalling’s one brain cell disengaged and he got himself booked twice for stupid challenges. Oh Louis, why didst thou not purchase a proper centre-back in the summer? Silly sausage. Strangely enough, down to ten men United got better and could have snatched a draw. Weird, but slightly optimism inducing. My optimism was both well placed and hilariously wide of the mark. With Carrick restored the team won six games in a row. Six! Fun times. Against Palace United were very very dull. At The Emirates, with an extremely inexperienced defence, The Reds witnessed PEAK ARSENAL. They were battered, violated (both with member and fist) and mocked as the Gunners tore them apart, only to fluff or miss their shots, or to see them saved by David Please Don’t Go De Gea, the latter a familiar sight over the last couple of years. And wouldn’t you know it, United broke forward and Valencia’s standard drilled kneecapper went in off Kieron Gibbs. As the game progressed Arsenal played Wembley Singles and Di Maria and Rooney sprang forward to wrap up the win. More LOLZ were ever LOLLED than had ever been LOLLED before about a football match after the final whistle. LOL. After home wins over Hull and Stoke, United pulled the same trick at Southampton, except this time Van Persie LOLLED back the years with two goals. Obviously it wasn’t Arsenal and thus quite as LOLTASTIC, but LOLZ were partaken.
Part 2 will pick up from the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool… let the lolz continue tomorrow….