It is such a simple question, but in football terms it might be the most profound.
Yesterday we witnessed another poor result in this brand new era, which doesn’t include ‘Fergie time’… or the all out attacking football that fans still believe we play, which to be frank is like tactical mythology in 2013.
As supporters, there are always a conundrum of things we can point to that we don’t like as a collective, but when you’re not winning, these things get soaked in a liquid embellishment that you can smell from here to Far East Asia. The stench is currently set at ‘rank’
My opinion is that fans can always criticise the team…it is their right. I would criticise Sir Alex’s tactics regularly, even though he is the greatest footballing beast we have ever seen. Constructive criticism can NEVER be a negative thing. But as i’ve now said maybe a million times, the regular criticism I hear about Moyes and the very slow start to this season seems to be the same old tripe regurgitated, generally by fans who did not back Moyes’ appointment in the first place. In many ways, this article is directed at them.
We used to openly talk about what would we be like as a supporter base when Fergie left, when the weight of the world would be thrown on the shoulders of someone alot less capable. And lets face it, that covers every manager on the planet. Even Jose, Pep or Klopp do not have the experience that Sir Alex had. We would constantly talk about how we would not vilify a new manager early on, about how we would probably lose matches that we once would’ve gained points from. We would chat about how disgusted we felt by the carousel approach to management that the likes of Madrid and Chelsea had, and how we would NOT advocate such a thing for our club.
And finally, the one thing we said we would be was… patient.
Well as it turned out, that all appears to have been hollow guff. The vapid have stepped forward, and it feels that as a fanbase we are falling apart at the seams, all because of a touch of adversity in OCTOBER. Personally I just find it embarrassing. From the booing after West Brom, to the fans slating Fellaini (who has played for us for all of six weeks) …to the morons who can only use social media to scream into the internet abyss. The whole cocktail makes us look like a sh1t supporter base, and other clubs fans are laughing their heads off at us for these facts.
Personally, I have managed to filter the vast majority of the trash out, but you still can’t escape its presence. If you want to use Twitter or the like as I enjoy doing, there are constant reminders about how David Moyes is not good enough for us and how we are living in the middle of some titanic meltdown. I have started to find that I am more put off by our supporters reactions to things than I am an actual bad performance by the team! – And this is something quite new for me. As Southampton equalised in the last-minute yesterday, I was pressed to think about two things: The first was the post Treble years. The years before we signed Rio Ferdinand. Those few years were laden with individual errors and poor set piece defending. The goal transported me right back. I remembered how frustrated I would feel, as we p1ssed goals away…I couldnt understand why Fergie wouldnt address the issues. But the truth is he was addressing them, but it takes time. Sir Alex had to rebuild, and that process was not always going to reflect in the team’s performance and the final score. Younger fans may not even remember these years I am referencing, but they did occur, and it wasnt that long ago.
It’s this kind of example that makes me have the patience of saints with David Moyes.
The man has just taken over the impossible job, and he is going to give it his best shot. Even after the Treble, Fergie found it difficult to stop decline, and even though he had already earned his place in our history more than a decade ago from this point, he also received all kinds of unhelpful criticism. Fans need to accept that things will almost definitely not go our way in the next few months, and dig in for a war. But that is not a civil war. It is to fight the good fight.
…And that led me to the second thing I thought of as the goal went in yesterday.
I’ve always prided myself on the club I support, and I have always been proud how our fanbase is not overtly reactionary. But it appears that is a total joke. All I could think of as the Southampton players sprinted over to their fans was ‘United fans will be taking to their phones and tablets right now, to kill Moyes…’ In years gone by I might have thought alternatively: ‘Other clubs fans will be taking to their xyz to kill United, but stuff them and their mothers – I don’t give a damn’ – but when it is your own fans preparing the hangman’s noose, then it feels like a totally different cricket match.
This article isn’t really plea for calm or patience, I am past that already. I accept that every minute incident will be blown up by Reds, and those who love a Moyes Out hashtag will use it for their agendas. But I would like to throw the question out to you as the reader of this: What type of supporter are you? What type of supporter do you want to be? Do you want to be perceived as the spoilt brat that all and sundry see, when our club badge appears? Opposition fans hate us not because of who we are, but because of what we were. Not arrogant, just better. That could not last forever. Yes now the playing field is more level, so as a fan…do you want to support your club, or help kill it? I know this sounds OTT and many will think that by saying playing Ryan Giggs is mental, is not the worst thing in the world…but it is the rhetoric that suffocates. And if you are complicit to this, and contribute towards our downfall, then more fool you. I can’t advocate any of it. This is not a case of accepting mediocrity, this is about adhering to a philosophy that Sir Alex has established in us since the mid 1980s. There is no i in team – think about that the next time you want to have a breathless rant involving the character assassination of the current boss.
Yesterday, I thought we played some very nice football. Not world-class stuff, but we look like we have a shape that we can work with. Rooney had a poor match, and no one sat around me was surprised to see Moyes take him off and bring on a defensive option, so late in the match. We’ve seen Fergie do similar things in the past, and the coaching manual will back up this as a method to close out a game. But it didn’t work out – and a very good Southampton team got the bit of luck they needed. All in all, David de Gea had a pretty quiet afternoon between the sticks.
I will always hold on to perspective. If things continued like this, and no progress was obvious at the end of this season, I too will be questioning Moyes and his vision for United. But we are not there yet. We all have our own different levels of what we can personally take, in terms of frustration. But to strike out just now? …
…Well the only damage you can do is self harm.