Last weekend I attended the U-18 game v Middlesbrough at Carrington. United came into the game in awful form following a run of 5 consecutive defeats including a very poor performance at Huddersfield in the FA Youth Cup where United lost 2-1. Although there was only a single goal in it, United only created 2 chances of note in the whole game, both by James Wilson and were well beaten by the end.
There was no The Month in January for three reasons: it was, admittedly, forgotten about until fairly late, then there was the lack of time anyway, because you know how busy people are, and, finally, perhaps most importantly, oh god, please don't make me do this. Look at all those commas.
In 2005, the England cricket team won a test series against Australia for the first time in 18 years. The rivalry between the two nations is the fiercest in the sport and an Ashes series usually makes for compelling viewing. Almost two decades is an awfully long time to consistently come second in a two-horse race, and the English playerscelebratedvictory in arguably cricket's greatest ever series with reckless abandon.
For most United fans on the internet, they're too young to really the leanest periods of the club's history. Munich, for them, is an anniversary to be marked rather than a visceral tug at the heart. The miserable times as United tried to replace Matt Busby sound like an aberration, a time served out by others as the countdown to Fergie Time began.
The last week or so has seen both our U-21 and U-18 play home games against our rich neighbours from across town. That gave us an opportunity to see how we compared to a team that is throwing money at all levels of the club.
First up was the U-21, played at Salford. Before the game both team were level on points in 7th and 8th positions in the league, both trying to close the gap on leaders Fulham and get into the semi final positions
The game started brightly for United with just 2 minutes on the clock before a great chance was created.
As Manchester United hurtle towards the end of the winter transfer window without a single signing, fans can count themselves lucky that the club have once again avoided the pitfalls of the break. The risks are obvious: there's no value in the market, none of the players United want are available, and it's hard to find someone good enough to get into the United side.
In October 1978 the Irish punk rock band The Undertones released their classic debut single Teenage Kicks. In two minutes and twenty seven seconds of pure genius songwriter John O'Neil captured the intensity, joy and pain of teenage passion. The song's anonymous hero blurts out his feelings for a girl he sees regularly around his neighbourhood.
There are times at which Old Trafford feels akin to Ellis Island in New York. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" reads the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty in reference to the millions of immigrants who headed to the United States in search of a land of opportunity.
The supporters of Manchester United are not enjoying themselves much at the moment. Defeat to Swansea in the FA Cup has left Old Trafford a sombre place. Nobody can disguise the poor quality of United's performances or results and a glance at the league table speaks volumes. Whilst the current situation is not David Moyes's fault, he may not be the solution to it either.
Although Manchester United have, by far, the best record for playing home grown talent since the last World War, the 2 positions we have struggled to make a breakthrough in the last 25 years has been Goalkeeper and a Striker. Why that is I really cannot figure out as we have done really well in every other position on the pitch.
December has left nobody knowing how good Manchester United really are: a tame draw and two defeats showed a team stumbling to one of those mythical places that doesn't even offer the Europa League. The six consecutive wins in all competitions that followed, however, at least allows United to be relevant for a lot longer than others had hoped for.
Winter is a wonderful time, and Christmas is even more special. It is special because amongst all the utter, utter tedium of hanging out at home and eating the worst meat of all time, turkey, you get to watch an enormous amount of football. Christmas has so many games that it can destroy a season just watch Arsenal fall apart in the next few months and it poses a gruelling test.
The hidden legacy of Munich: tensions between Bill and Harry Gregg
One of the pleasures of seeing the ‘Class of ‘92' in action is the palpable sense, even after all these years, that the likes of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt and the Neville brothers are still terrific friends.
The Holy Grail in Europe
Everyone at Old Trafford and indeed throughout football, if not the wider world, knew that Matt Busby was obsessed with winning the European Cup. He never put it into words but everyone assumed he saw it as the only possible way of vindicating his original decision to enter Europe back in 1956, with all its tragic consequences two years later.
Part II of this tribute to Bill Foulkes looked at the rise of the Busby Babes and the tragedy of Munich. In this part of the story we're told about the role Foulkes played as the club was rebuilt after Munich.
The Munich Aftermath
When the Babes were destroyed on the runway at Munich Bill Foulkes and Harry Gregg were the first to get back into action, soon followed by Bobby Charlton, whose injuries were relatively slight.
Part I of this tribute to Bill Foulkes looked at his early playing days. In this part of the story we're told about Bill's rise to the first team and being a part of the Busby Babes.
Bill and the Busby Babes
Eventually Matt managed to persuade Bill to quit the pit and go full time, but not before the craggy full back had played for England in 1954, bizarrely the only time he did so.
United managed 2,762 goals under Sir Alex Ferguson, roughly two scored for every one conceded. Everyone will have their favourites of the Ferguson era. Sometimes it's about context Solskjaer's winnerin the 1999 Champions League Final and the Mark Hughes volley against Oldham that saved the double spring to mind.
When Manchester United announced that Bill Foulkes, one of the club's finest former players, had died at the age of 81, I was greatly saddened to hear that one of my all-time favourite footballers had passed away. Bill had been such a central figure throughout my earliest days as a supporter the feelings of nostalgia were poignant, but also tinged with a strange kind of guilt.
Not just the most dramatic end to a football match that we'll ever see, or even the most dramatic end to a football match that anyone will ever see, but the single most dramatic, consuming event that most of us will ever see in the course of our lives. United: the vaguely acceptable face of mania, obsession and ecstasy.
November is the focus so, naturally, it's worth looking at a game played in December. The 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane was a disappointment, though, yes, it doesn't much sound like one: but, given the points Manchester United dropped prior, a win was as necessary as one can be around this point of the season.
Every United fan has their favourite player in the squad. For some, it's Robin van Persie, the man who gave Alex Ferguson a fitting send-off, and who made Wayne Rooney look like the waste of skin he is. For others, it's Rooney himself, seeking to prove that running about a lot for a whole match will adequately replace things like a first touch, creativity, or being able to pass over a distance over longer than 10 yards.
If Sir Alex Ferguson's autobiography proves anything about his time in charge then it's that we were truly blessed. During his 27 years at Old Trafford, United played, for the most part, expansive, attacking football utilising some of the finest players ever to have graced these shores.
Ferguson has repeatedly stated how fortunate he feels to have had so many great footballers in his charge, and picking a best team of his managerial reign is no simple task.
David Moyes told us in September that he is "learning every week", and some of that, now with October gone, has shown. Though, yes, the month could have been a lot more favourable to United, Moyes can reflect on a job done better.
Of course, a job done 'better' is different to one done 'well' – it would have been a bit of a disaster had September reflected more positively on last year's champions.
As the Moyes regime begins to take shape, it is a time for United fans to reminisce and remember the good times. Now, we all know the title race isn't over and a new manager needs time to settle, but the retirement of Fergie himself was the final stage of the clubs transition; one that has seen the club regress.
"Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you're not aware really of the solution, you're not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved." Jonathan Ive
As with any sport, football lends itself to classification.
Everybody makes mistakes. Even Alex Ferguson, even Miley Cyrus. David Moyes, however, can't take a step without stepping into dog turd. A professional manager, you wouldn't necessarily believe it. However, it's apparently too early to call for his head regardless of whether or not you thought he was the wrong choice in the first place.
Soon after he announced his decision to retire, I was asked to compile my best XI of the Ferguson era. Of course these things are entirely subjective and possibly pointless but that doesn't stop them being quite good fun. It was an easier task than I'd anticipated and, after due consideration, I went for Schmeichel in goal, a back four of Neville, Ferdinand, Stam and Irwin, a midfield comprising Ronaldo, Keane, Scholes and Giggs then Cantona and Van Nistelrooy up front.
You hear it a lot, and will probably hear it a lot more, but managing Manchester United is not the "impossible job". It's a difficult one, of course, exclusive to those who have learned, then earned. It's the pinnacle for a lot of people, but, it's only the pinnacle, only something to work to because, well, it's not impossible.
6-1, 5-1, 4-1. Playing Manchester City and getting tonked by them is actually a fairly regular occurrence these days. But way before then, it didn't help that Manchester United were rubbish. It didn't help that any team can have an off day. It didn't help that Manchester City have recently been able to play really, really well.
Manchester United fans rightly don't want the reputation of being an unsupportive club that sacks the manager at the drop of a hat. One of the arguments that is regularly put forward for keeping hold of David Moyes is that "we don't want to become like Chelsea". Whilst I'd argue that Chelsea's policy of sacking the manager hasn't prevented them from being successful, with them winning plenty of trophies with the eight different managers they've had in the past six years, it certainly has limited their success.
When Manchester United appointed David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, most supporters were fairly surprised, given that the former Everton manager hadn't won a single trophy and had never managed a side in the Champions League.
Whilst finding a manager with a CV that matched Ferguson's was impossible, the difference in quality between the two men was incredible, despite claims from some sections of the press that they were "cut from the same cloth".
Judging on his performances so far this season, Wayne Rooney has justified the club's decision to keep hold of him in the summer after some interest from Chelsea and Arsenal. Both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho confirmed their desire to sign the player but in the end the most either club were prepared to offer was £24m.
Last night was one of five evenings that Sir Alex Ferguson will spend with fans to promote his new autobiography. 1,700 people packed out The Lowry, after tickets were sold out in a record breaking four minutes, with the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, David Moyes, Mike Phelan and Albert Morgan in the audience.
David Moyes has been in for plenty of stick already this season, some of it warranted, some of it not so much, but we had to know this was going to happen. Whoever got the job, their every move would be under a microscope, and some managers would be easier to scrutinise than others.
Jose Mourinho got sent to the stands last weekend, suggesting that just eight games in he isn't quite The Happy One he tried to convince of us he was.
Losing to City and Liverpool away was painful, as it always is, but somewhat expected. Our record in both of these fixtures over the past few years under Sir Alex Ferguson has been pretty poor. Of course, you wouldn't swap the trophies for derby day wins, we aren't the sort of club that will bring out DVDs for beating Liverpool home and away, but have nothing to show for it at the end of the season.
Last season, Wayne Rooney's form became so poor, by his own high standards, that Sir Alex Ferguson dropped him. He was left out of the starting line-up for our biggest game of the season at home to Real Madrid, a decision that was working well for us until the referee's scandalous decision to send Nani off, and it wasn't that surprising.
Danny Higginbotham is one of many former United academy players who, despite not establishing himself in the first team at Old Trafford, went on to have a successful Premier League career.
During his time at United, when loaned out to Belgian side Royal Antwerp, he was banned from playing for four months after attacking a referee, although received support from Sir Alex Ferguson during this time.
Nemanja Vidic didn't take long to become a popular figure amongst Manchester United fans thanks to his no-nonsense approach to the game. He loved putting his foot in, was no stranger to a "cheeky" elbow and shirt pull and would stand toe to toe to any opposition player. He was nails and we loved him for it.
Last night I was fortunate enough to be one of the few people to see the live screening of the new United film, Class of 92, which focuses on our Youth Cup winning side of 1992.
Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville tell the story of their careers, which is all building up to that incredible Treble winning season in 1999.
I love the Da Silva twins. My friend taping Made In Brazil, a documentary about them, was the nicest thing anyone has done for me for a while! Whilst not wanting to get too carried away about them, and able to recognise their flaws, I just think they're great. I love their attitude, I love how they play, I love that we have two of them and they look exactly the same (I know that's a bit of a shit reason to love them, but it is actually a contributing factor), and I'd be made up if they proved good enough to hold down the full-back starting places in our line-up for the next ten years.