If the last two seasons have taught us anything it’s that change is difficult to deal with, we have been spoilt with success for over 25 years and have just had to witness things go from good to bad overnight. Manchester United fans have documented this all too well. I’m not about to say that the Moyes era is something as a United fan I enjoyed but it is something that has triggered a large number of bandwagons to come sweeping across social media picking up passengers left right and centre.
As a 28 year old fan of Manchester United I supported the club under one manager, I treat football with an open mind and try to avoid making judgement without considering all of the facts. So when Sir Alex Ferguson called it a day I, like all united fans had to deal with change. We all knew it had to come someday.
David Moyes was appointed and I found myself caught up in the whirlwind of ‘The Chosen One’ and with that one phrase I didn’t want ‘The Special One’ I was on the wagon. All of my normal rational judgement went out the window and Moyes was the only one to lead us forward, Moyes was going to take us in to the next era….
That era for me ended with back to back home defeats to Everton and Newcastle United. I pulled the emergency brake on the ‘Believe’ bus and jumped off to find my team in 9th place and out of the title race before the Christmas lights were switched on in the city centre by some Z-list celebrity whose X-factor career had come screaming to an end.
The bandwagon went on with fans still backing Moyes before it crashed at the turn off for Europe. Now I don’t blame anyone for changing opinion. My point is that since the Moyes era United fans have become quick to judge and even quicker to forget their judgement, and I was one of them.
There have been a few big talking points this season. One of these being Louis Van Gaal and the others are long and documented debates on specific players.
So let’s start with The Boss. Louis Van Gaal came to United with a history of tactical Philosophy, a tried and tested blueprint and an arrogant appetite for success. He’s known to take no prisoners and get the best out of the players available to him. It’s no secret that Van Gaal is stubborn, we saw this with the continued attempt to shoehorn Rooney in to midfield with Fellaini playing a defensive central role, while Mata and Herrera watched from the bench as Van Persie and Falcao were starved of any service.
As United fans we were all entitled to speak up and raise concerns as Van Gaal continued to tinker with his squad. I didn’t want to see him sacked like a lot of United fans did, but realistically we have to face the fact that if we don’t get that ‘Top Four’ place, blame and action will be taken. In the modern game this is now the norm, just take a look across at City. From Premier League Champions, to fighting with the Scousers for fourth place, and we love it. It’s this very mentality that we want to avoid.
With United now up to third, pushing Arsenal for second and playing mouth-watering football with Champions League football on the horizon, where are all those United fans now who called for Van Gaal to be sacked in February?
Should we call them fickle and plastic? Or are they just being passionate about the Club wanting it to succeed?
On to the players, I spend a lot of time on social media reading about our team and how players are perceived by fans. It’s very apparent that tabloid press coverage can also play its part in provoking our attitude towards individuals. I believe opinion can change, but not overnight.
Now you might start to think that I’m going to rave about Fellaini and his meteoric rise in stock this season, I’m not. What I will say is that used correctly he can hurt teams and we’ve seen that in recent weeks, his performances have contributed to the team’s resurrection and I’m not afraid to commend his attitude and mental strength, the majority of United fans can admit that 12-18 months ago we were shocked to see 27 million pound spent on the big Belgian after well documented attempts to bring in Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas.
The player I am going to focus on is Michael Carrick. At the start of Pre Season United were rocked by the news that Carrick would be out of action for the start of the new season. I tweeted out how costly this would be. Many United fans voiced their opinion expressing ‘United didn’t need Carrick’, that we would sign someone else and that his days as a United player were over. Some even questioned his credentials as a Manchester United player, oh how wrong they were.
Michael Carrick is the fuel that drives our team much like Paul Scholes, he is the ingredient that if missing causes that cake to flop. During this season we’ve seen Carrick come in and out of the squad due to injury. The statistics speak for themselves and I will whole heartedly say that without him playing United would be in 6th or 7th place with that ‘Top Four’ finish a distant fantasy.
I’ve now witnessed those same fans lay claim that Michael Carrick is world class and has been for the past decade. Again I ask the question, should they be persecuted for their change of heart?
As fans we can all have opinion, we are never going to fully agree and we are never going to be 100% right, But let’s not become mercenaries of our own team. We are not the blue half of the city and we are certainly not Arsenal fans. We’ve all fallen victim to predetermining a judgement of the club and its players.
This season we’ve witnessed improvement on a squad wide scale. Ashley Young is playing out of his skin, Fellaini is bullying opposition defenders and so many other great things are happening before our very eyes, this is credit to the manager and to the players for fulfilling their potential and showing why they play for the shirt.
We have to accept that players won’t always be at their best, Van Persie hasn’t been great and our world record signing Angel Di Maria has been poor. Let’s not forget what they’ve done in the past and what the future has in store.
The next bandwagon is just around the corner, I simply ask you wave as it drives by and stay true to your own opinion and not get drawn in to the tabloid and social media fanfare because United are on the rise and our squad are all hungry to succeed.
By Martin Peart