I’m really sorry, Men, and I really do honestly love your album. I’d probably hypothetically put it as forty second or maybe fortieth best album of the year, if I was into stuff as bizarrely obsessive compulsive as only even enjoying art in order to list it at year’s end. And- ho-ho!- I had a straight fire bang up the elephant entry planned! It would have been so funny it would have literally blow all your collective arses out through your collective eyeballs. Literally. Literally. It’s unfortunately had to be shelved, much like my editor told me that it ‘wasn’t a good time’ to publish my ‘Top 100 Boeing Aircrafts’ on September 11th 2001. Especially as I’d planned to hold the launch party in Times Square. While dressed as Osama Bin Laden. It’s really hard to judge the mood at times like that.
Besides, let’s face it, I’ll just write the exact same piece I was planning later on an album I’m struggling to think of what to say about. I’m looking at you, El Perro del Mar!! Erm… ‘spoiler’… I guess…
I’m a big fan of association football, a game where 24 people run around after a ball. The twist is that 22 of them aren’t allowed to use their hands, and the two that are always make a big deal of it. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned how much I love football before on this blog. Partly because I’ve always believed that there are quite enough football writers on the internet, many (some) of whom are actually far more knowledgeable about the game than me*. Partly as well because I’m a little Social Justice Cuck Snowflake (SJCS) and a bit too wary of how talking at length about football is sometimes seen as an aggressive seal of manliness, and how people only talk about how many grounds they’ve visited or how shit other team’s fans are because they know that polite conversation dictates that they can’t just evangelise about the size of their penis. So instead I write endless nonsense about music nobody’s ever heard. So you all know I’ve got a huge willy, right?
(*unlike music, where, at the risk of sounding slightly big headed, nobody is more knowledgeable and well-informed and amazing than me. Ever. If I do say so myself)
Besides, I’m a Manchester United fan. Yes, insert Banter™ here. Saying you’re really into football then saying you’re a United fan is like saying you’re really into movies and that your favourite movie’s Star Wars: you’ve obviously decided you’re a fan that morning and not put much thought into it. It also means that I’ve spent a good 20 years of my life telling people that, yes, I am actually from Manchester. Then awkwardly explaining that, well, no, not central Manchester, but definitely Greater Manchester!
At least, I was a big fan of association football. Over the past two and a half years it’s been increasingly difficult to defend my position. Calling yourself a fan of Manchester United after 2016 became as hard to defend as that Jimmy Saville poster I kept in my bedroom way after 2012.
José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix was by far and away the worst Manchester United manager of my lifetime. Yes, out of all four of them. Well, five if you count Ron Atkinson, but to be honest my memories of hitting the town with him in 1985 are hazy at best. Oh! Shit! I, erm, wasn’t even born when Ron Atkinson was United manager! I’m in my late 20s, don’t forget, so I wasn’t born until
Then came Alex Ferguson, who in retrospect I believe was actually quite good. I don’t need to bore on here about his achievements and incredible grip on the club’s entire identity. We hear far too much about how we’ll ‘never see a manager like him again’, but that suggests that managers like Sir Alex were ten a penny before the EU put a limit on Scottish managers and chewing gum became less PC. The fact is there wasn’t a manager like Ferguson before either. He managed continued success across perhaps the biggest era of change in the English game since fans were no longer required by law to wear flat caps. Replacing him obviously took years of planning and consideration to find a manager who was equally as Scottish.
David Moyes. I mean, come on. Fair play to Sir Alex for his remarkable dedication to The Bantz™, but we’ll look back at the decision to hand over the reigns of one of the biggest clubs in the world, from perhaps the greatest manager ever, to the man who’d just finished sixth with Everton and almost qualified for the Champions League once as being as mystifying a decision as when Queen decided to replace Freddie Mercury with Maureen from Driving School. United quickly became preposterously bad, with Moyes’s tactics of progressively bulging out his eyeballs on the touchline somehow failed to inspire the team. The thing is though… United were so much fun to watch that season. After near twenty years of near unimpeachable dominance, it was actually perversely entertaining that season to watch United rapidly tumble into an incoherent mess. There was dark humour in seeing how terrible this team would manage to be next week. Which would be the next team to record their first ever win against us for 50 years? What laughable defensive cock-up will give Swansea a two goal lead on Sunday?? What face would Phil Jones make??? It was such a novelty to support a laughably incompetent team, 2013/14 was a nice little holiday away from constant success and, whisper it, United were actually a lot more entertaining than they’d been in years! It’s often written out of the official narrative of Sir Alex being a reckless, purple balls to the dressing room wall, 4-2-4, attack attack attack manager, but his last few United sides were far more based around defensive solidarity. Especially after Ronaldo left, the real stars of United were the back four of Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand and Neville. At times, we actually resembled a Jose Mourinho team. After such impressive efficiency, it was a bit of a hoot to see the absolute opposite for a while. We all know Moyes wouldn’t be there the next season, business would be resumed and we should cherish this bizarre anomaly of United being pish, we’d never likely see it again.
Moyes was sacked, because ha, ha, ha, ha ha! Seriously, you guys? Moyes? There were still wonderful moments of Moyes’s tenure to remind us all of how wonderful being a football fan can be, that three goal come back against Olympiakos, beating Bayern Munich through an Evra goal*!! When this team put their heads together they could still excite, they just needed a manager big enough for the club. Louis van Gaal came in, an absolute giant of the game with an ego as uncomfortably bulging as Moyes’s eyeballs. OK, settle down lads, you’ve had your fun, now let’s take things seriously again.
(*for roughly 40 seconds)
LVG had a philosophy. I think because he was Dutch. As far as I can make out, the Dutch have ‘philosophies’ like the British have ‘drinking problems’, it’s just in the DNA. United fans are divided on LVG. My brother, Mizdow, thinks he’s actually United’s worst post-Fergie manager, but he rates the second MGMT album so his opinion really has to be discounted. My other brother, Johnny, still stands by how the football under LVG was the worst ever, but he’s part of the liberal media so probably has an agenda. Oh, yeah, Johnny, LVG is a white man and therefore the worst person on the world, yeah? United should have appointed Idris Elba?? Pathetic. However, for a long time I really felt that LVG’s ‘philosophy’ might actually be going somewhere, for much of his first season I kept seeing flashes and suggestions that soon it might all click somehow. There was something there. And, in a month the liberal media seem to want struck from history, it actually clicked…
15th March 2015. United, finally seemingly starting to comprehend their manager’s wishes, have already won two games against mid table opponents, host the extremely decent Spurs at Old Trafford. And tear those cunts apart. Near the end of LVG’s first season, Spurs witness what the Dutchman had been philosphising about in cryptic jabs at journalist’s weight all these months. Everything clicks. Next, United go to Liverpool and don’t miss a beat beating them 2-1 (with a glorious Mata goal), then brush Manchester Citeh aside 4-2. We’re doing it. We’re beating the big boys. We are the big boys!! We only had Chelsea left to complete the set!
(we also beat Aston Villa during that run, but that result hardly fits the narrative of disposing of the league’s giants. Anyway, does beating Aston Villa ever really count? We only got 1.7 points for that win)
Chelsea, managed by that master of economical efficiency Jose Mourinho, simply line up in polite fashion to piss all over United’s once scorching fire, winning 1-0 because Mourinho has worked out that one goal to nothing is actually the most efficient way to take three points, and that any more goals is a needless waste of precious energy that could be better used crowding the opposition’s central midfielder until he accidentally kicks an attempted pass into touch. It’s fine though, we knew that was going to happen. Everyone knows that Jose hates fun, let’s just forget about his party pooping and get the streamers back out. We lose our next game 3-0 to Everton. Then lose 1-0 to WBA. Our mojo has been unceremoniously stamped out by Mourinho’s cynicism and we never get it back. I mean, homestly, to this fucking day. 12 months later, towards the end of LVG’s second season, we are an absolute horror show of endless confused back passes and playing the dullest football I’d ever seen at United. Up until that point. Up. Until. That. Point.
So the board get rid of LVG and bring in Mourinho. Hiring Jose Mourinho is the least imaginative thing a football club could do. My nan knows I like music so bought me ‘The Best of the Beatles’ last Christmas. She still showed more imagination than United did in bringing in Mourinho. I actually asked my nan who should be the next United manager, and she actually said ‘Jose Mourinho’ because he’s the only manager she’s heard of. That’s the level of imagination we’re dealing with. OK, she said ‘Terry Venables’ ‘Frank Skinner’, ‘Óscar Tabárez’, then ‘Jose Mourinho’, so she actually showed far more imagination. Especially given the fact she’s been dead for 8 years. You know what you’re getting with Jose Mourinho. He’s like Rohypnol: absolutely unpalatable and inexcusable methods, but if you’re that desperate for a bit of success and don’t care about the moral consequences, then go ahead.
And the Mourinho we were getting was the Mourinho whose characteristic obnoxiousness had poisoned the atmosphere so badly at his previous club that he was sacked months after winning the title. Yep, that’s our guy. He brought over all of that toxicity to Manchester United, almost immediately fashioning the club into his own image: a horrid, turgid, obnoxious pit of antagonism that every other club did their best not to make eye contact with at party. It’s impossible to describe how horrid Manchester United soon felt with him at the helm. We had some of (potentially) the best players in the world, and even as a United fan I was anxious that these talented young stars were absolutely wasting their life meaninglessly trudging round in circles in the grisly swamp that Mourinho had turned the dressing room into. We bought the world’s most expensive player, who Jose then moaned about for the next thirty months to really galvanise team spirit. In his first season he finished sixth, but claimed a ‘treble’ after winning the Europa league, League Cup and Community Shield*. The football was absolute dog vomit, but we knew that it would be, right? We knew it would be as difficult to watch as that sex tape your Mum made with Pat Sharpe in the early 90s, but we were winning something. This is what we sold our souls for.
(*While it might have seemed like an acceptable start at the time, I move that these wins be stricken from the record due to the utter ineffectual nonsense the club soon descended into. We can do that, right? Just strike it from the record? Can we have a People’s Vote on the 2017 League Cup, at least? Give that to… whoever we beat in the final… Fuck knows, who cares?)
The start of the next season though, it really seemed to show the signs of possibly being effective. We bought Lukaku, we seemed to have ‘solved our goal scoring problem’, and opened the season with, if memory serves, six straight 8-0 wins. We were joint top of the league, the players were starting to enjoy the manager’s newfound trust in occasional attacking, and we all cracked our knuckles in anticipation of the grand Manchester United v Citeh battle that would play out across the season. The next game was at Liverpool, who had started poorly, winning just one of their last four games. It was time to send a motherfucking mess-sage!!
Then… Mourinho got scared. He was terrified of a Liverpool team who had up until that point been providing the league’s stand out defensive LOL!! moments. United approached the game like eleven catholic nuns politely requesting a herd of Scouse wildebeests not rush their precious church made of feathers. Yeah, terrible analogy, terrible game. Jose ‘won’ by grinding out a 0-0, but his players were all told that their manager, who had up until that point shown great confidence in their attacking ability, didn’t trust them to beat a team ripe for the taking. We lost the next game to Huddersfield, and Jose never won back the team’s affection. We actually finished second that year, and reached the FA Cup final, but by the end the football was so dire and the results so uninspiring that mentioning how well we did in the league feels like interrupting the funeral to give the play Lincoln was watching a glowing review. Pogba went off and won the World Cup, came back and was somehow worse. I’m getting depressed just writing this.
In her outstanding book ‘Wild Swans‘, Jung Chang tries to explain the feeling of elation she felt when she heard that Chairman Mao had died, of chains being unbuckled and life feeling free again. I used to think that I’d never be able to imagine that feeling, but hearing the news today that <I’m stopping you there, for fuck’s sake- Ed>
So, what now? I’ve long sung the praises of Pochettino. In fact, I honestly believe I wa the first person in the world to suggest him as a potential United manager, and you have no way of proving I didn’t. But he would be the obvious choice, and the real contenders have to be as follows.
- Eric Cantona. OK, he was 21 when Atkinson was sacked and arguably not quite ready for a full-time manager role yet, but since then we have had an opening for a manager four times, and not to appoint Eric once is just perversely unjust!
- Patrice Evra. He loves this game
- Roy Keane. Can. You. Fucking. Imagine?
- Fuck, I’m Tired and Need to Go to Bed. Leftfield choice, I’ll admit
Fuck, guys, I’m really sorry, I do love this album, just bad timing, y’know?
Main-stay! Main-stay! Mai…!