So, What's Happened In '99 So Far?
It started with a kiss and some hot chocolate when Posh gave Becks a new
motor and Becks made up with the bald beefy bruiser from the Kings Road.
Barmy Blatter wants a World Cup every two years and Rupert says he wants
one too. What Rupert says and what Rupert means of course are two entirely
different things as Fartin will eventually find out. What Rupert really
wants is a World CLUB Championship every two years and for Sky TV to have
the exclusive rights. Well the Italians seem to have given him the elbow so
let's hope the government and the MMC show some balls and kick him out too.
Kiddo's time in yonnerville seems to be going OK at the moment, but isn't
it always this way when a new boss arrives and the players suddenly start
to play again for fear of losing their places. I'm sure he will manage to
keep them in the Premier League if only by the way that teams such as
Everton, Southampton and Charlton in particular seem to be hell bent on
self destruct. But he seems to like strikers doesn't he!
What about the poor scousers down the wrong end of the East Lancs?
Aaaaaaaaaah!! Ex Ranger, Walter doesn't seem to be able to get the Toffees
out of the sticky mess they're in down at the basement and the French
mickey has a minnie rebellion on his hands with Macmanamanamanamanan on his
way to Spain and the nasally retentive Fowler wanting a king's ransom or
he's off as well. Fowler by nature than by name eh.
And what can I say about Ole, except that he has obviously recovered from
his severe childhood illness that prevented him from recognising the only
true red and thus was temporarily compelled to follow the dirties. Now
fully rehabilitated and returned to his rightful mind he can rest assured
we fully understand he was obviously inflicted with the "mindwarpus
scousus" virus, a wicked bug which prevents the inflicted from recognising
the hideous reality of 'life' on Murkeydive.
There's uproar in Saudi - Fergie's gone as mad as Glenda and tipped United
to win a fifth Premiership title. What are we to do? But will Fergie follow
Hoddle and waddle off into the stratosphere to become a white dwarf, or is
he destined to become a true red giant?
Some say he already is, but some say he needs to emulate Sir Matt by
carrying off the Euro crown. I say he now has a team who look as capable of
doing just that as the 93-94 team did. The difference now is that he is at
liberty to play them all in European competition at the same time.
The difference between the team of last season and this is very simple.
This team has a strong spine and for the want of sounding too obvious, they
are all a year older with that much more experience. But it is the spine of
the team which is the all important difference.
Not forgetting Schmeichel (I'll come back to him later), we have two new
additions and a rebirth. Stam, Yorke and Keane, three players we didn't
have last season.
Keano has been with us for a while now and his value to the team has
increased during that time. He is the natural choice for captain. Yes - it
would have been nice for Peter to have retained the armband for his
swansong season, but there is no way he could have the influence on the
team that Keane has.
Peter's stuck between his posts, except when he's venturing forth on a last
ditch ram-raid into the opposition box that is, and so he is too divorced
from the main action. Even his foghorn from Valhalla isn't loud enough to
reach past the halfway line and in any case how could you allow anyone with
a goatee as daft as Peters to wear the coveted back armband.
So Keano is a major player who's power and influence is felt all over the
pitch. I certainly wouldn't want to be facing up to one of his hard steely
stares, would you? Even his goal celebrations are hard. It's more likely
he'll come up to you and either belt you round the head or kick your arse
when you score than give you a nice hug like the rest of the chaps do.
Keano's the one who has taken over the Robson role and is looking every bit
as good as the great man, and if Fartin doesn't sort it out and negotiate a
proper deal, Manchester United will be the poorer for losing him - Keane
that is, not Fartin. I wouldn't mind losing Fartin, but that's another
story. I'm not getting into the wage debate here, but I wish I earned
somewhere close to the amount the top players earn for playing a game.
Behind Keane is Stam.
I was filled with dread when I heard that Pally was leaving in the summer
because I felt he was the best centre half I ever saw playing for United.
Martin Buchan comes a close second, but the Dolly and Daisy combo was
How could this man Stam be worth the huge amount of money Fergie was
willing to pay, and how could he fill Pally's boots? Well, after a very
short period of settling in, he has been my man of the match on more
occasions than anyone else. For a man who hails from the flatlands he is a
veritable mountain, an giant of a man who dominates the penalty area like
no-one I have ever seen before. He can even out-legend Pally in time.
His skill on the ground and his distribution are superb. The way he
dispossesses an opposition forward is stunning. As they approach his lair
he seems to lean on them mentally and when they're under his spell he picks
their pocket and comes away with the spoils. There's no fuss, or bother,
just simple football.
So to the last of the trio - Yorke.
He has been a revelation to me, and I was one of the ones who thought he
would be good for United, but not this good! I hesitate to say this, but he
seems to be another Eric type catalyst. He isn't Mr Invisible, ghosting
around the pitch, like Eric did, but he certainly finds space where you
don't expect him to.
His vision has impressed me more than anything. I didn't notice him that
much when he played for Villa, but how can anyone shine bright in the
dullest of shirts. Put the crimson red of United on his back and he
suddenly becomes a star.
His link up play especially with his soul brother is a gift from heaven for
Andy, so be of no doubt that the Wizard has pulled off another master
stroke here. Yorke's magic has sparked the team. His attitude is
contagious, even Giggsy smiles the smile now and then!
So with these three in the team I believe Fergie has the possibility of
achieving absolute immortality, and the one thing that they have got in
common is that they are without question already "RED TO THE CORE". They are
nearly as Red as we are.
They are United players in the time honoured tradition of Law, Charlton and
Best and naturally of those who went before and those who came after.
As supporters of Manchester United we demand a certain flare with our
football. we don't want the methodical Liverpool approach or the defensive
Arsenal approach, we want skill, flare, charisma and devotion and the
greatest of these is ................... eeeer, all of them!
So, back to the daft Dane between the sticks.
Some have said he is losing his touch, that he is dropping more bollocks
than Glenda, but in truth he has always dropped them. Ever since Fergie
pillaged him from Brondby he has made the odd gaff, every goalkeeper does,
but Schmeichel is so good, we tend to notice it more.
He had a short period after he announced he was going on an extended sunny
beach holiday at the end of the season, but he's over that now and back to
his brilliant best. Anyway, how did you expect him to react after coming to
the conclusion he should leave us? It takes courage to decide to leave
United because despite what the "good time Charlie" says, there's only one
way out of United, and that's down. Sir Matt said that and that's good
enough for me.
Peter Schmeichel is far and away the best keeper we have ever had, but who
knows the secret of the Wizard's Black Magic Box, he may have another lined
up just as Jaap replaced Pally and Dwight replaced Eric. We live in hope
This team is recreating another aspect of true United tradition and that is
to play until the whistle sounds at the very end of the game. I expect
there will be more people still in their seats at the final whistle than
normal from now on. Even the fanzine sellers will stay until the last kick
and maybe even some of the execs and trippers will too. The fighting spirit
is back - back with a smile at the front, a snarl in the middle and a cool
head at the back!