In the second part of his look at Manchester United’s season, Sunday’s game and the meaning of life, Justin Mottershead gives Sir Alex a vote of confidence, tells of a recent encounter with Denis Law, makes passing mention of George Best and berates Salut! Sunderland for remembering David Bellion but inexplicably overlooking Mr Bruce or Mr Evans among men linked to both clubs …
SEE PART ONE, including Justin’s match forecast, BY CLICKING HERE
Salut! Sunderland: Would the Carling Cup and nothing else this season, if it came to that, represent abject failure in your eyes and would that be the time for Sir Alex to stand down?
In short- yes and no. Yes winning the Carling Cup alone is not a successful season at United no matter how you look at it and no Sir Alex should stay on until he believes he’s no longer physically up to the job. He’s always managed to bounce back from a poor season and I’m sure he’ll do the same this time round.
What is your assessment of Sir Alex’s reign and do you have a preferred successor?
My assessment of Sir Alex’s reign is unbelievable Jeff! You couldn’t have asked for more from the man. He’s turned the club around from top to bottom. Not only are we now actually level with Liverpool on titles won, but over the years he’s given me and so many fans memories you couldn’t have dreamed of that a knighthood just doesn’t do him justice. The good thing about Fergie is he’s given the club a great youth system, scouting network and a full trophy cabinet. It’s in good shape –regardless of the Glazers.
Personally for his successor I’d like to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer take over, he’s done a great job with the reserves, knows the club inside out –as well as the young players coming though the ranks- and would be willing to turn to Fergie for advice if needed. Plus he’d be given time by the fans. As Guardiola’s proved at Barca, you can make the step up.
What have been your own highs and lows as a United supporter?
Highs – too many to mention but I’ll give you an early one that has a relevance to your club. In 1992-3 I’d stopped going to games with my dad and started going with my mates-usually ticketless. We’d either try and sneak in or wait till the last 15 mins when they opened the gates to let everyone out and just walk in. Well one day when the title race was coming down to the wire we played Sheffield Wednesday at home and they went 1-0 up. Me and my mates got in for the last 15 minutes, and saw Steve Bruce turn the game on its head. Amazing and symbolic of what united have often achieved late on in games since then.
Lows – Mainly in the Champions’ League- I know it may sound arrogant but forgive me. Porto in 2005 was a particularly bad one because we were robbed and they went on to win the trophy. Last season’s final was a huge let-down and Bayern Munich this season was unbelievable- for all the wrong reasons.
Do you have older relatives who lecture you about the greats of the past? Have you met any of the former stars?
My dad still bangs on about George Best, which is to be expected I suppose.
Funnily enough last week I was at a radio station in Manchester for a work placement. I managed to get an interview with Denis Law for the derby. He was a good guy but totally sat on the fence – he even said that as a player he always wanted a draw when he played in the derby, which was obviously total b*llocks.
Is it healthy or irritating to have City as pretenders to the Manchester throne, or do you still not take them too seriously?
I will never, ever take anything that happens at City seriously- they’re cloaked in failure. I genuinely believe it will all end in tears somehow, the whole Kaka episode summed it up. ‘He doesn’t want to leave Milan for any amount of money.’ Then a few months later he’s off to Madrid! They can put up their posters and sign as many Carlos Tevez’s as they want but they’ll always be a laughing stock to United fans. Let me sum it up for you, in 2008 when we won the Champions’ League, City fans were claiming they were the better team ‘cos they’d beat us twice, you had bitters ringing in Manchester radio stations screaming; “United may be the best in Europe but they’re not the best in Manchester!” They’re totally deluded and United obsessed.
What thoughts do you have on players./staff linked to both our clubs? Roy Keane, Dwight Yorke, Ricky Sbragia, Fraizer Capbell and, er, David Bellion spring to mind.
And Steve Bruce!! What about Jonny Evans as well? Can’t believe you forgot them and remembered Bellion (nor can I …ed). Ha ha! Well, you’ve taken some of our players who’ve had a bit of a big time Charlie attitude on occasion. Richardson was disliked by a lot of United fans –maybe I had a subconscious prejudice against him, come to think of it- as he was a right big ‘I am’ around town. There was a lad called Danny Simpson who was the same, and Fraizer Campbell. I’m not sure if they carried that attitude over to Sunderland but judging from the comments in defence of Snooty, sorry ‘Rico’ it would appear not. As for Keano he was a legend at OT so much so that Sunderland became almost like a second team to a lot of United fans as we wanted him to succeed. As for Yorke, you did well to get the games you got out of him as I thought he was practically past-it when he signed for you but from what I gather he put in quite a few shifts. Sbragia was always considered a nice guy and I think he proved that in his attitude as your caretaker manager, dignified, honest and humble. As for Bellion- you saw us coming!
The Eduardo question (not wishing to make N’Gog, Drogba or – some say – Rooney feel left out): it’s the last Saturday and your title depends on a win. You’re drawing with seconds left. Rooney – or anyone else – goes down in the box and the referee is the only one in the ground not to see it as a dive.You score and win. Take it gladly, take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almost wish you’d only drawn?
Take it! All day long. I can always justify it by thinking ‘we were robbed at Stamford Bridge anyway.’
Club vs country: with the World Cup approaching, are your thoughts already turning to South Africa or are United all you really care about?
I do care about England but not as much as United. Give me a choice of the title or the world cup and I’ll take the title. Sorry but its true. Whenever England play I always feel more excited if it’s a United player that scores. I’m going to South Africa but i’ll be in Johannesburg for the duration of the tournament so unless England make the final I don’t think I’ll get to see them.
* See also: Justin’s selection of this season’s worst Premier League XI and his own blog, Name on the Trophy.
* * The first part of Justin’s questionnaire and more about him – can be found by clicking here
The ticket reduction issue has been aired repeatedly at Salut! Sunderland, most recently at Manchester United: lame ducks and quack remedies, but previously here and – we’re nothing if we’re not consistent – here too
* With acknowledgements and thanks to “pawelbak” for his Belfast mural image of George Best, found at his Flickr pages
* NB: a recent deluge of spam means comments from people who have not been this way and posted before will have to await moderation. Sorry.