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...
It was a terrible loss for Manchester United. Torn a new one. Coming after poor games against Chelsea and Liverpool (via a conspiracy to provide them with an unwinnable start, apparently) we're told David Moyes shouted at the players in the dressing-room.
What do you think Manchester United's players thought of that? Having a strip torn off you by a top manager who has proven his qualities at the highest level is one thing, having it done by a man who hasn't even won an away game in the top flight at a traditional big club is quite another.
You need to be held in respect in football's highest echelons before a severe rollicking can have any positive impact on a top footballer and you pretty much only get respect by being a winner. If you're not a winner, it's just a loser, shouting.
If they've not already worked it out, it won't be long before the players realise that being managed by someone who has no record of winning anything means they're much less likely to win anything too.
And anyway, shouting or not, what's he going to say to them after such a terrible defeat?
"Don't worry lads, we once got heavily beaten at Everton and I still managed to lead them to a sixth-place finish without spending much money," or how about, "I've turned worse players than you lot into Europa League qualifiers" or, "Cheer up lads, seven points from the first 15 was a great start for us at Everton"?
Actually, what he did say was, "I never lost like that here with Everton." Well bloody done, Davey. So what are you saying? That United are worse than Everton, that it's not your fault, or are you saying that you can't manage United as well as you managed Everton? Whatever you're saying, it's the wrong thing to say.
These are players that have won league titles and Champions League trophies and honours for their country. You haven't. If you or I went in there and started shouting the odds at them, they'd rightly turn on us and demand to know why they should take any notice. What have we ever done? You think they're not going to think that about Moyes? Of course they are.
They're not humble or grateful just to be there. They rightly think of themselves as winners. So a manager's record as a winner has to matter too. It's how their world works. How they assess worth. Medals on the table. What have you won? Why should I take notice of you? It's worth repeating the astonishing fact again that Moyes hasn't even won away at Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United in over ten years of trying, let alone actually won a trophy.
You can hear it in how the players talk. Other top clubs' players can reference their managers' previous successes in interviews. It's embarrassing that they can't. What are they supposed to say?
"Well, the manager says he didn't lose as badly here with Everton so it must be our fault for being rubbish."
At United, his players' experience of success outweighs his own by a shedload to totally nothing. He can't even relate to them as an ex-player. What's he going to do, tell them about his stellar career at Shrewsbury or Cambridge or Dunfermline Athletic?
These things matter to footballers, especially at a club that wins things all the time. They will rightly think of themselves as winners and want to be around other winners and be led by winners. No amount of 'I'm a hard Jock, me,' shouting will make up for that. Rather, it only highlights your smallness, your weakness. When your reputation is wholly and totally 'doing okay on an average budget', it means the square root of sod all to a player who wants to win the league.
When Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge he could point to the trophy cabinet as inspiration. He could show how they'd bounced back from defeats like this before and that was before he deployed any other shouty-based persuasive techniques. Before they had success under him, they hadn't won the leagues for years. Now they have. The standards expected are higher. Much higher. An ass-whupping now is different to an ass-whupping back in the late 80s.
When games like Sunday's go wrong, footballers will look for a way to excuse themselves from the blame and they can easily do this by pointing to Moyes The Loser. After all, they won the league last year, many of them are serial champions. So the only real change between then and now is Moyes' appointment. So for any player seeking to deflect the blame from himself, all he has to do is metaphorically put on the I'm With Stupid t-shirt, quietly step away from the Scotsman, and point surreptitiously in his direction. This just makes the decline of the club more likely.
Even if you think Moyes should be given time to learn how to manage Manchester United, time to learn how not to look so scared on camera, time to learn how not to say stupid things, time to learn how to conduct himself as though he's the head of a three billion pound company and not running a local boys club, the dynamics of the situation will not allow for that. United need a winner now, not at some undefined point in the future.
United will continue to win games against weaker sides, but the feeling that they are shrinking in quality and shrivelling like a penis in a cold swimming pool, is undeniable after the Chelsea, Liverpool and City games. You've got nothing to shout about, David.
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Articles like this break my heart because it is because of articles like this perpetuate the problem. They convince people that the smallest set-back is, in fact, the biggest defeat imaginable. They increase the pressure on managers to boiling point, and surely the press cannot shake their heads at another untimely sacking when they're respsonsble, in part, for ramping the pressure up themselves with articles like this. Moyes may not have won anything as a maager, but let's assume that the dressing room is full of egotisitcal players who have gained their ego through being successful, and presumably want to continue being successful. By that margin are they not obliged to work their ****ing socks off? Is it not in their best interests to work with the manager to ensure that they're trophy cabinet doesn't start gathering dust?- HarryBoulton