I used to wonder why Manchester band The Smiths were so popular in their hometown. After all, everyone was a rough ‘n’ ready happy-go-lucky randy sod, always on the lookout for a quick score, or a wanton hussy, or some other form of misadventure. The Smiths, on the other hand, were miserabilists with a sick humorous streak whose music smelled like wet overcoats steaming in yer nana’s parlour. True, Manchester had a public image problem in the mid-80’s. The Smiths fed on that grey and dismal otherland that people in southern England believed really was “the north”, but it was pure bollocks, as Mancunians would say. Manchester was big and cosmopolitan and we had the greatest football team in the whole world. Why would one of our own want to belittle the city we knew and loved so much?
Morrissey, the man behind it all, was clearly at fault here. The fact that he spent his life locked away in his bedroom watching Coronation Street and writing love letters to Edith Piaf wasn’t Manchester’s fault; he’d have been doing that wherever he lived. Morrissey punished us for his own mental and emotional frailties by framing our city as an outdoor dungeon contructed from filthy red bricks and slippery cobbles. I mean, if he’d been born in Newcastle or God forbid, Glasgow, surely his lot would have been even worse? Amarite? Don’t answer that.
But back to the main trunk. The aim of this article is to explain why current Manchester United manager David Moyes makes me feel like Steven Morrissey, purveyor of northern depression. It’s a football, article, and why not in this year of 2014, when the Tournament That Dare Not Speak Its Name will be very much on everyone’s minds? “Football” is a very loose term in the red 99% of Manchester at the moment, though. This season is the first (and hopefully the last) for new United manager Moyes. His abject footballing sensibilities have virtually demolished a great institution overnight. The irony is that Moyes was hand-picked by the very man who built the great footballing dynasty he’s busily crapping on.
Our ex-managerial beast, Sir Alex Ferguson has an entire stand named after him, and not just any old stand; the former United Road stand, which for many represents the Peoples’ Stand* at Old Trafford. He once coined the phrase, “the Peoples’ Club”, when he was Everton for 11 years winning nothing, so he supposedly knows a thing or two about being normal and thick and unremarkable. David Moyes will be lucky to have a mop bucket named after him when he is hopefully booted out on his arse come summer. I mean, do we really want that ginger Gollum at the helm when we face the cream of Europe in the 2014 International Champions Cup in various top stadiums across the USA? The answer’s no. No, no, NO!!!
There are still those who say things like “Give him time” and “let him build his own team”, but this is a man who brings to the table just one quality – he’ll stick around and drive your business into the ground for a really, really long time. Last time I checked, managers were hired for their proven track record, not for how long they promised to be there. As United dither and tremble in alien ways, our noisy neighbours across the city are making plans to extend their stadium and pilfer back all the turncoats who migrated from City to United when we were winning everything and they were languishing in the doldrums. Next season will reveal just how negative an effect Moyes has had on ticket sales. The club sent out its season ticket renewal notification much earlier this year, and it’s no coincidence that United are not going to qualify for the UEFA Champions League in 2014-15. The club is trying to get that money in the bag sooner rather than later, and knowing the canny attitude of Manchester’s northern population, that’s a risk that has backfired badly.
When I think of Manchester United at the moment, I want to just don an old woman’s hairnet, retire to my quarters and watch a soap opera, while moaning about the weather, the youth of today, and the pitiful “lack of chances” we have. I’ve turned into Morrissey! Heck, maybe I’ll even attend a Morrissey concert myself this year, mellow as I am in my old age. The one in Los Angeles with Tom Jones sounds especially bizarre. I could go as Ena Sharples, one of the glamor gals from that glitzy Manchester soap opera so beloved by Mr. Morrissey. If you think “Dallas” or “Dynasty” were set in worlds of opulence and power, then you should check out Ena’s final appearance in “The Street”, where she bid adieu to long-term hunk and northern English poster boy, Albert Tatlock. Oh yes, we Manchester folk knew how to project a sophisticated image of ourselves back in the 80s. And it’s great to know that David Moyes is currently carrying on that tradition, despite over three decades spent successfully undoing it. Thanks, Moyes, don’t let the door catch you on the arse on the way out, you dithering dinosaur.
* I’m almost 80% sure they did used to call it that, but I might have made it up, sorry…