Anorak News | No Fear

No Fear

by | 4th, November 2005

‘REMEMBER when we were invited to stand up if we hated Manoo?

Rio cost more than Neville, Beckham, Scholes, Keane, Giggs, Schmeichel, Sheringham, Cantona, Bruce, Irwin, Butt and Solskjaer put together

It was back in the day when United were the dominant force whose remorseless drive for trophies and world domination was threatening the fabric of the game – a fabric available in at least four designs and yours for £39.99.

No-one really minds Man United any more. Arsenal play the more vibrant, attacking football. Spurs spend more money. And Chelsea are the winning team every little boy and his dad want to support.

Now we watch Man United as we would any other club. Nice that they lost to Middlesbrough 4-1, but no great shakes. Few fans of other clubs were punching the air. It didn’t really matter.

And therein lies the problem with United. More precisely Ferguson’s Untied, a club never loved as the great Matt Busby teams of old.

The problem was always Ferguson. It was just so hard to like him. It was the way he aggressively chewed his gum with his mouth open and took it out of his mouth with his fingers and tossed it to the ground. It was the way he fiddled with his stopwatch. It was the way he put his arm around the shoulders of a losing manager in an act of dominance cloaked in filial respect. It was the way he shared a bottle of wine after the game with the visiting manager. It was the way John Motson calls him “Fergie”.

But that’s all gone. Ferguson is now the Premier League’s oldest mascot in residence. His character traits that were once so offensive to the opposition are now a comforting constant in a changing world. Doesn’t matter who wins, rain or shine, Fergie will be there, chomping on a piece of gum with his familiar purple face.

We now longer loathe Ferguson because we no longer fear him. And his players seem to think the same. This United team have no fear. And with no fear of losing comes a lack of desire to win.

Aside from Rooney’s foul mouth, what is threatening about United? Alan Smith, all bite and push and shove in attack is a petulant boy lost in midfield. The only person Ruud van Nistelrooy winds up is himself. Rio Ferdinand, the supposed best defender in the world, doesn’t always show up, and that goes for drugs tests and playing.

And who’s scared of the manager’s infamous hairdryer? A hot blast from today’s Ferguson comes with a diffuser to take in the entire team. No one minds being in the line of fire when you are huddled in a group.

So instead of Ferguson’s tirade to get the lads motivated we get Roy Keane’s barbed comments about his under-achieving team-mates. So shocking was Keane’s analysis of United’s performance at the Riverside that MUTV, the club’s in-house TV station, deemed it “unbroadcastable”. Keane is said to have “named names”, accusing his team-mates of lacking what it takes to be a United player.

Players like Rio Ferdinand. So awful was United’s £30million record singing last Saturday that he was substituted. “I know he’s a laid-back character, but he will be hurting inside,” says Gordon McQueen, the former United player.

Hurting inside, eh? Suffering from a bout of inner turmoil? Why not hurt openly? Ferdinand’s paid a fortune to play for a great club, where he’s lionised and pampered yet he plays with his head in the clouds. Get with it. Get angry. Get some desire. Or get out.

And if Ferdinand wants something to be upset by, take a look at Chelsea. They’re killing United on and off the field. That top spot should be United’s top spot. That silverwear, United’s silverwear. That little lad in the replica kit with “Lampard” on the back should be wearing a United top with Ferdinand’s name on.

United need to get nasty. They need to be hated…’

Posted: 4th, November 2005 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink