Spot-fixing is very much back on English football's agenda. Given the opportunity to make a lot of money very quickly and with little effort, Johnny isn't that surprised...
You don't have to be a Manchester United fan to feel nostalgic when you read about the Class of '92. Ordinary boys in the middle of an extraordinary coincidence...
As we turned up to see Guns n' Roses in early October 1987 at Newcastle City Hall, no-one really knew what a rock 'n' roll behemoth the band would turn out to be. Their future global success was by no means guaranteed. Their debut album, the legendary Appetite For Destruction, had just been released in August and was choked with raw energy and balls-to-the-wall rock 'n' roll spirit. That gig in Newcastle was, I'm pretty sure, their first on UK soil. We loved the album but were not prepared for the full-on G n' R experience. My god, they were a fierce, swaggering rock n roll band, full of fire and spit and passion; the very essence of rock 'n' roll. Or, to put it in the vernacular, dude, they kicked ass, man.
Within 18 months they were the biggest band on earth and if you saw them that night, it was no surprise. They were a cut above and they damn well knew it and soon everyone would know it too. That first impression of them left you in no doubt of their brilliance.
Sadly, this can't be said of David Moyes' first few weeks' performance as manager. There was something as inevitable as a fire at a failing nightclub about Manchester United's loss at Anfield this weekend. Partly because it's not always been a happy hunting ground for United but also because their manager couldn't win there with his previous club, just as he couldn't win at any top club with Everton in ten long years.
Any reasonable assessment of this would lead a dispassionate observer to suggest that he was in some way culpable for this awful record; that it showed a flaw in his ability and a major flaw at that but somehow, he seems to have got away with it. It wasn't mentioned much this weekend in the media. It should have been.
I know many say it's too early to judge Moyes but really, it isn't. We all know what Moyes is like; we've had ten years of him already. He has a history of doing OK and finishing sixth or seventh and, hey look, that's where United now are. United fans should be concerned that he is already turning them into Everton.
Are his supporters assuming he will suddenly become a great manager, that he will rise from the great mass of average into stellar? How can that happen? Does anyone really do that when they're 15 years into their managerial career? It is not impossible but it's very unlikely. The way he is, is by and large, already set and anyway, presumably, the way he is, is why he got the job. So change in him is not required. And there's your trouble, right there. There will be no great improvement. He will not transform into a managerial colossus. At best he is learning on the job. Do United really want to be used as a learning zone? Shouldn't they be employing the best?
I'm fully aware that critics of my position on this will suggest, as the more paranoid United fans are fond of doing, that this is part of an ABU campaign. It's an easy way to dismiss any negativity. But here's the scary news is this critique of Moyes isn't part of an agenda which wants to see the club decline. Quite the reverse is true.
I love to see United as big players on the world stage. It's a bit like seeing a massive band on tour. There is a spectacle, a big shiny greatness to the experience that goes beyond the music played. Seeing Zeppelin at Knebworth was easily as much about the occasion as the music, seeing G n' R at Wembley, likewise. And that's what Manchester United are - or should be. I've always liked their Billy Big Bollocks stature in British football, the huge crowds and the high status players. I don't want them to be diminished, rather I want them to be even bigger, especially in Europe where they have failed to impress too many times. It is out of a passion to see them be the big glossy rock 'n' roll footballing beast, that my distaste for Moyes' dry, averageness lies. In fact, it appals me.
When Ferguson took over in 1986 he was a man for those times. Aggressive but progressive and with a reputation for winning. He was a fire-breathing dragon of a man. But by contrast, what is Moyes' reputation? Don't give me being OK with a financially poorer club because that isn't even a relevant qualification. This is United. This is a much, much bigger deal. You need to be good with money, not good without it. You need to attract, manage and motivate great players, not good players.
The sad fact is that United already look radically diminished on the world stage with him at the helm. The red shirts look less red. Their brand is being damaged. These things matter. Once you look lesser, you're treated as lesser. You attract lesser players and therefore achieve less and the cycle of decline continues until you get someone in charge that can stamp his mark on the club with a clear vision and strategy. Yet, in the summer months Moyes hasn't given any indication as to what his vision for United is and yet clearly the squad needs a substantial overhaul. It won last year's title on the fumes of SAF's ego and super-human will and isn't good enough to do so again. Yet, Moyes still just seems a bit shocked to be working with players who are better than Andy Van Der Meyde.
The money is too big, the competition in European football too great, the investment at other clubs too massive to fall behind for more than a season at most. Decline cannot be tolerated and will not be tolerated by the club's owners no matter the talk of legacy and building a long tenure. At the elite level United operate there is no time to learn how to do the job. There is and can be no sentimentality. Be good and be good now. That's the only mantra. A string of bad results will rightly put Moyes under pressure and that pressure should also come from the fans. They pay their money and have a right to demand a better manager than the one they've been given.
It's understandable those fans want to support their manager and rally the troops against critics, but United are so massive, such a huge club that it doesn't need blind loyalty. It needs realism. At his best Ferguson brought that realism. You need a big man for the big stage. Moyes can't grow into being that. He cuts a tense, un-inspirational, somewhat constipated figure on the touchline and the pressure hasn't even begun yet. What's he going to be like when they're 2-0 down at home to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League? There's only so many times any fan wants to see their manager with his head in his hands, clawing at his eyes in desperation.
He seems gauche and inexperienced in this context, has a rabbit in the headlights look about him and yet looks older than his 50 years. All of these things are wrong for a superstar club. I simply don't believe any but a tiny percentage thinks Moyes is the best man United could have got and the game on Sunday will only have confirmed many people's fears. Not just the loss but the manner of it.
To me, a dull, boring United is a curse on British football. We all lose by it. Maybe those who support Moyes just have an appetite for destruction but somehow, I doubt it. Welcome to the jungle, baby.
What a load of rubbish. It's now 4 games played, and neither Chelsea, Man. City or Man. United. are top. How can you judge any manager after a few games in a new job? Man. United aren't bottom with zero points. There's no 'crisis' Have you been an excellent 'writer' after your first 3 articles? Really? Won any 'writing' awards yourself? Get a life and write something worthwhile!- forestforever