Atletico Lead the Galacticos in One of Football’s Great Comebacks

Manchester United’s defeat at home to Sunderland means it is now likely that there will be no European football at Old Trafford next season, for the first time since the 1980s. My first taste of European football was the second round European Cup Winners’ Cup second leg against Atletico Madrid in October 1991. The score had ended 3-0 to Atletico in the Vicente Calderon, with two late goals (United were one-down when my Mum met me at the end of Cubs, when we got to the car it was 3-0). The return game needed, and got, and early goal, a Mark Hughes Scoreboard End header, amidst the kind of Old Trafford-European-night atmosphere Sir Alex Ferguson often heralded. Quite how much an 8 year old can truly remember I do not know, but I can recall telling people for years that this was the noisiest Old Trafford crowd I had been part of.

Utd v Atletico Program

The coincidence of Atletico being the opponents for my first European game has recently seemed of added significance; the progress of the teams since have taken two markedly different paths, before experiencing two equally-unanticipated changes in fortune this year. Continue reading

Safe Standing: Response to Manchester Evening News Opinion Piece

Below is an extract from the Manchester Evening News, published on 20th February 2014. The pages shown are the ‘Take It As Red’ sports opinion section of the newspaper, where there was an view on standing at football matches. Click the image below to zoom-in on the original article.

I contacted the Manchester Evening News, as encouraged to do at the top of the pages, in response to this article. A copy of the email I sent is shown below. To my knowledge, I have yet to receive any response (other than an automated receipt email) from the newspaper. Continue reading

What’s the Mata with Wayne’s Wages?

Well what a prospect the front four of Rooney, van Persie, Mata and Januzaj poses to be. There were glimpses against a stubborn Crystal Palace of a quartet as talented as the three-pronged attack which took us to Moscow. Juan Mata, the latest to join, and whose signing gave the whole Club a lift (he was just the business for Chelsea, wasn’t he?), can now also claim an unexpected attribute shared by the other members of this quartet. Recent contract extensions for Jaunzaj and Rooney (now amongst the world’s highest-paid players), have shown MUFC appearing to be in a position of strength. So much so that I heard and read similar comments when they put pen to paper as to when van Persie and Mata signed:

‘See, the Glazers aren’t so bad, are they?’

Well yes, they really f***ing are.

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Woodward, Rooney and Moyes. Photo (C) Sporting Life

People often mention the ‘net spend being lower than Stoke and Sunderland’ and similar nuggets when discussing the current ownership, Continue reading

The Singing Section, Take 2

Manchester United V Fulham, from inside the second ‘Singing Section’ trial.

The general consensus after the Real Sociedad match was that the singing section trial was a success. Players, managers and supporters stated it improved the atmosphere, there were no reported ‘incidents’, and, most importantly, people enjoyed themselves. Two common suggestions afterwards were for it to be bigger (some in the Stretford End said they struggled to hear it), and tried in a league game.

The decision to move it to J Stand for the Fulham game addressed both of these, but did not receive unequivocal support. Rumours around New Year were of long-standing Season Ticket Holders being ‘forced’ to move to make way for the fans who had trialled the Sociedad game, although United claimed to have contacted all STHs to ask rather than demand. Come the game itself, most from the original trial were in there again, along with some regular J-Standers and new supporters wishing to join the Singing Section. The club had placed me with the same lads as last time.

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Continue reading

Poll: Mansun Fans – What Are You Hoping For In 2014?

2014 looks like being an exciting year for fans of Mansun. Ten years since the band’s split, 2013 saw a flurry of public activity and interviews (details below). But what are you hoping for this year? You can choose multiple options, or add your own answer! (I will list these in the post comments at the bottom of the page, or you can add them yourselves)

What are you hoping for?

The chances of a Draper solo record seem to be increasing, with the fan petition (see below) suggesting fan pressure for its release. Do you want to hear it? Or have you reservations it could only disappoint u (sic), so you would rather Mansun maintain Continue reading

The Singing Section

Manchester United v Real Sociedad from inside the trial ‘Singing Section’

Despite strong competition from Paul Merson, Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas, it is Paul Walsh on Soccer Saturday that always gets to me. Although not for his playing career, which took in Liverpool and city, or his terrible punditry.

I first encountered this long-blonde-haired forward of the non-Uruguayan variety in January 1994, when he played for a then second-tier Portsmouth, at an Old Trafford league cup tie. (Our team that night was Status Quo-tastic: Schmeichel, Parker, Pallister; Irwin, Bruce (no-Sharpe-or-Ince); Hughes, McClair, Keane [sub] Cantona; Robson, Kanchelskis, and Giggs. Come on you Reds!) Walsh scored both as they twice pegged us back in a 2-2 draw. Although drawing a winnable cup game could devastate a young Red, it wasn’t the result in itself which lingered. After all, I had the perspective being at the Forest game in ’92, plus we still had a replay. No, it was that Walsh had ruined my Birthday. Continue reading

A Case For Vinyl

Investigation into recent increases in sales of vinyl, for the Louder Than War website, and featuring exclusive interviews.

It has been well-reported recently that people are buying more vinyl, but some sales figures I learned of from a leading Manchester music store are quite remarkable. As a city whose social and cultural identity has always been closely intertwined with music, I wanted to discover what it was about vinyl that had recently captured the imagination of so many of Manchester’s public.

Dutch Uncles - Out Of Touch In The Wild

High street chain Fopp revealed that like for like sales on vinyl are up 100% this year, compared to 2012. And that is not merely a case of doubling from selling one record last year to two this, as Fopp also confirmed to me:

“Vinyl accounts for 25% sales on some new releases, such as Bowie, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend.”

Just think about that. One in every four people who went in to buy ‘A.M.’ walked out with the 12″ record. Continue reading