I am never doing that again…..
Well hello there. Yes, I know it’s late in the evening and that you have probably sat there all day waiting for this to come out. Well, the story is that I went out for a few drinks with my best man, Dave the Red, and a few turned into a lot, Mrs X joined us and by the end of the evening I had knocked back a double bourbon straight a little too quickly and it came back out of my nose. How we laughed. Until the searing pain kicked in. Anyway, you’ll have guessed by that that I was in no fit state to type my own name, let alone anything else today. But four litres of a well known caffeine based soft drink later, here I am.
Speaking of things red, this is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to speak of the front cover of the Red Issue that was published on Monday for the Stretford game against Fulham. I showed it to Dave the Red over the first pint of a well known apple based alcoholic drink and his reaction was that it was disgraceful, and that has been the more or less overwhelming response from my Stretford supporting friends.
I understand the context of the article pretty much repeated what Marina Hyde said last week in The Guardian, and whilst you may not agree with it, it is the price we pay for having a (officially) free press. Agree with it or disagree with it, that is what debate is for.
What can’t be excused is the front cover, of Fabrice Muamba lying prone on the floor and the speech bubbles of the crowd seemingly mocking the situation. I haven’t got a problem with a Manchester United fanzine writing about what has been pretty much the main football story of the past fortnight. The issue is making it the cover story and then being gratuitously irreverent about it.
I know that there are a lot of Bolton fans who dislike Stretford with a passion but even they would probably baulk at creating a poster mocking the Munich air disaster. It has nothing to do with our club, unless we happen to be playing them around the anniversary of the incident. Red Issue have no right to put a story involving our club and our player on the front cover.
Of course, they have previous with winding people up and the inclusion of Klu Klux Klan masks before the Liverpool game at Old Trafford earlier this year caused our good friends at the Greater Manchester Police to seize the offending publication. No defence, but at least they were using it in the context of the game about to be played.
And then they wonder why people think that United fans are a bunch of glory hunting, arrogant wazzocks from deepest Essex.
As for Fabrice himself, he continues to improve and the manager has praised the players for the way that they have gone about their business in the past week or so:
‘The players have always been an honest and conscientious group in the way they have conducted themselves in difficult circumstances. I think they’ve been a credit to themselves and to the club.‘
But, as a club, we now need to move forward whilst still being concerned for one of our own. The performance at White Hart Lane brought a whole new meaning to the word ‘insipid’ and showed that, outside of the first eleven, we are quite short on quality. Some would say we are also quite short of quality within the first eleven. Darren Pratley’s injury had Tim Ream pushed into midfield, although a better solution may have been to give Josh Vela a chance or even to put Miyaichi into the middle and bring Petrov on. Pratley’s injury is not as bad a was first feared and, regardless of whether you think that is a good thing or a bad thing, he could be back in a fortnight.
Of course, this still leaves the Wolves game to get through as well as possibly the home game to Fulham on Easter Saturday and the away game at Newcastle two days later. Those two games will stretch the club further, already missing three of its best midfield players. By the end of Easter, we could have a clearer picture of what we have to do to avoid relegation, leaving us with just six games to play, including the rearranged games against Villa and Spurs.
The game against Wolves is absolutely vital to the fight to stay in the Premier League. Win this and that would be nine from nine and it may stick a nail in Wolves coffin, being as they would then be six points from safety. With QPR playing a rejuvenated Arse and Blackburn hosting Stretford on Monday, this is an excellent opportunity to move towards safety.
Wolves are a mess, picking up just the one point since sacking Sam the Barnsley Eagle and conceding almost as many goals as we did at the beginning of the season. Naturally, as we are the visiting team, that run of form should make the favourites for the game, capable as we are of giving out of form teams a shot in the arm. And the reverse of the previous paragraph is also true. A Wolves win would bring them to within a point of us. So in this mini season of six pointers a win would do very nicely indeed.
Now if someone could just gaffer tape St Owen’s mouth during half time.
Quick fantasy league news, which I haven’t been paying too much attention to, for obvious reasons. It still reads Wizards, Lightning, Wanderers and Trombones at the top and the team of the week was John Howarth’s ‘Owens Coyled Spring’. Gripping, isn’t it?
Right, that’s your lot for today, tonight, whatever. We will return with a Wolves preview tomorrow.