During Manchester United’s dreadful 1-0 defeat by Liverpool, I decided that it was finally time to stop supporting Man U, and just support my main team, FC United of Manchester (www.fc-utd.co.uk), set up by fans of Man U opposed to the Glazer takeover, with whom I have a season ticket for the first time this season – political commitments will mean I miss quite a lot of matches but I’m happy to financially support this good cause. [Also, I couldn’t get a ticket for the play-off final at Colwyn Bay in 2011, due to not having both a season ticket and being a member – hopefully, this time we’ll win the league and get promoted as of right, avoiding the lottery of the play-offs (in which we’ve lost in the final in each of the last three seasons).]
FC United’s first two matches this season didn’t exactly go according to plan – a 2-0 defeat and 0-0 draw.
However, I went along with my (now ex) partner to the next match, at home against Stamford AFC, and we won 6-0 (the biggest victory I’ve ever witnessed live by any team). Asian women are very rare at football matches involving any team and perhaps her presence, as perhaps the first Asian woman to support FC United (an old comrade of mine, Cath, from our time in the Militant Tendency hadn’t seen any such woman having attended far more matches than me – we joined her in handing out leaflets publicising the demonstration in Manchester at the Tory party conference on 29 September: http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/march-and-rally-sunday-29-september-2013/) helped inspire the team to that tremendous victory, especially since she was really enjoying the match and chanting, and was clapping along.
FC United players celebrating the 6-0 victory at the end of the match.
Two days later, we went to an away match at Trafford – the only other team in Greater Manchester in the Northern Counties League (Premier Division) apart from Droylsden, in which we play, and thus easy to get to via public transport. The first half was quite boring, but we did end it 1-0 up. The second half was a thriller, with Trafford equalising and then going into a 2-1 lead, but we equalised in the 77th minute and scored the winner in the second minute of stoppage time at the end of the match. The great team morale lasted into the next match which neither of us went to; it was a 5-1 away victory which took FC United to the top of the league!
[A major reason my ex and I split up was that there was not much to do with her that we hadn’t already done; these were the two extremes of successful outcomes to a football match, which mirrored similar strains on our relationship generally. However, we parted as friends, and also comrades in the struggle for a socialist world.]
Now, to explain why I’m abandoning Man U: big money has destroyed the game (except in lower leagues like where FC United play) and also Man Utd have nothing left to achieve that they haven’t done already.
The farce of the “financial fair play” rules being introduced this season (they should have been years ago when the formerly great French footballer Michel Platini proposed them), where teams are supposed to only be able to spend a little more than they raise, or they can be banned from European competition, could hardly be more blatant, particularly with Real Madrid paying more than £85 million for Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur and increasing his wages to £300,000 a week. I wrote and recorded a song a while back, called “Manchester Shitty FC”, and sang that Man City were “by far the richest team the world has ever seen” (inspired by some plonker chanting that they were by far the greatest team, having only won the league title twice at the time!) I was wrong – the richest team is Real Madrid. However, Barcelona (who sold out recently by getting a commercial sponsor rather than paying UNICEF for the privilege of publicising that charity), Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City are not far behind.
Alex Ferguson (Fergie) was arguably the greatest manager of all time. He was also left-wing (but perhaps it would not be accurate to use the word “socialist”) – even to the point of supporting the mass non-payment campaign that defeated the poll tax and played a massive part in the downfall of Margaret Thatcher. [Her death was the inspiration behind this blog – she shifted the centre ground of British politics to the right rather than accommodating herself to the middle ground as most politicians do nowadays. I, along with other socialists (particularly those in Left Unity), am helping shift the centre ground of British and world politics to the left.]
Fergie achieved all he really could (apart from equalising/overtaking Liverpool in numbers of European Cup/Champions League trophies) as manager of Man U and it was a very good time to retire. Under his leadership, Man U overtook Liverpool’s record of 18 titles in the top division, then after the blip of being eclipsed in dramatic circumstances by the new kids on the block funded by oil money, their “noisy neighbours”, in 2012, they not only retook the title but did it by a crushing 11 points. Robin van Persie would have received higher wages if he had been transferred to the neighbours, but chose the team playing in socialist red (and anti-racist black and white), perhaps due to the better team spirit of Man U – and his signing was almost certainly crucial in the turnaround. [Javier Hernández (Chicharito) had a great goal-per-minute ratio in the 2012/13 season, but Fergie didn’t pick him very much, so perhaps Man U could have managed without van Persie. I read last night that Tottenham only offered half of Man U’s valuation of £15 million – so stingy with the Bale transfer taking place (although I read this morning that they have forked out over £100 million already on 7 new players which perhaps explains it).]
I thought during the match that the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool could have been a cunning plan (as Sir Baldrick would say) to persuade the Man U hierarchy to take signing new players more seriously than would otherwise have been the case. Certainly, most of them played dreadfully. Hearing massive amounts of swearing by (supposed) Man U fans near me in the pub hardly created a good atmosphere to say the least, and nearly witnessing a fight when the match was coming to its conclusion was the icing on the cake! I have to go to pubs to watch many Man U matches, since I’ve always refused to subscribe to Sky out of principle (as well as it not being good value) due to my hatred of Rupert Murdoch and particularly The Sun (because of Wapping union-busting, Hillsborough and Page 3) and I was over the moon when Man U fans defeated Sky’s attempt to take over the club by a campaign largely led by the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association, with which I was sometimes involved subsequently. I read that Everton’s Marouane Fellaini is likely to be a Man U player when the transfer window closes tonight – Man U weren’t exactly generous (by football standards) in their previous offers, so perhaps the cunning plan is working! I have also now read that Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera is due to join before the deadline at 11pm tonight.
Man U’s new manager David Moyes lacks the inspirational qualities Fergie had. During the match against Liverpool, he was constantly in a bad mood, which was hardly likely to have lifted the players to say the least. He never won a trophy with Everton in over 11 years, and the contrast with Michael Laudrup (formerly a wonderful Danish player) at Swansea City, winning the League Cup in his first season and doing brilliantly in Europe so far this season, could hardly be more striking! Seeing goalflashes about Swansea’s victory at West Bromwich Albion during the match reminded me that, if I did want to support a team in the Premier League, it would probably be Swansea (or perhaps Cardiff City now that the team’s primary colours have changed from blue to red, and also partly based on their tremendous victory in the league this season over Moneybags Shitty). [I lived in Penarth near Cardiff for part of the time when I was growing up, so I have a certain empathy for the Welsh, and tend to support them at sport (particularly the national game, Rugby Union) when they play other countries including England. Incidentally, my surname Wallis means someone from Wales, and there are even crossovers in the family tree between this spelling and the one of William Wallace (aka Braveheart) who was rumoured to be Welsh (perhaps that was just some Welsh ancestry, and we all have mixtures of different nationalities in us, whatever the likes of the BNP may say – “We are all immigrants”, as a banner produced by FC United supporters to take to the Tory conference demo says!]
I had previously stopped supporting Man U when FC United was formed in 2005, but restarted supporting Man U later in the season – the team spirit had not gone despite the takeover, largely because Fergie hadn’t abandoned the club, and I empathised with a lot of the players. Despite their high wages, most Man U players were motivated (as well if not mainly) by wanting the team to do well, whereas Man Shitty and Chelsea players are far more motivated by “money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world – soon it’ll be funny, funny, funny, when it’s no longer a rich man’s world” – perhaps that’ll be lyrics from a song by my band Fruity Frank and the Frisky Freaks soon!!! When players were more concerned about their own glory than team success under Fergie, they were soon out the door. This even happened with Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final in 2009, in which he tried to score a glory goal from distance instead of the better option of passing, and he went to Real Madrid for a then world record transfer fee of £80 million. Ironically he now wants to move back to Man U…