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UNITED’S FIRST EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE FANZINE

ISSUE

FOOTBALL UNITED FANZINE

13 March 2012

Eric Cantona Just what made the Frenchman so special? Also inside:

Exclusive interview with Countdown’s Rachel Riley The Numbers Game Down to the Wire

And much more

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ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


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Football United Fanzine Issue 13 - March 2012 Managing Editor: Steph Doehler Deputy Editor: Rachel Turney Contributors: Al Monger, Vinnie Shaw, Brett Burgers, Harry Sherlock, Jack Harvey, Liam Scott A special thank to: Darren, Rachel Riley, Mark Carney Designer: Steph Doehler Images: Micky Owen PI: Michael Kyeyune ________________ Website: www.football-united-blogs.com Email: editor.fub@live.co.uk

Football United Blogs

@footballUB

All material unless otherwise stated, is copyright to the Football United Fanzine. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the editors. The Football United Fanzine is completely independent of Manchester United Football Club. The Football United Fanzine accepts no responsibility for services offered by advertisers.

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editors’ notes Remember the days when you cared about our national team? I think it was the World Cup 2006 that my feeling for the English national team changed. No idea, no inspiration, no heart. England crashed out on penalties to Portugal for the second major tournament in succession. Lesson hadn't been learnt and we still have a foreigner in charge, which has always been a big sticking point for me. Don‟t get me wrong, I had nothing against Sven per se, he was a relatively decent character but I will never accept an overseas manager in charge of our national team. And with the World Cup ‟06 my love and pride our this country when it comes to football got lost, and is still yet to be found. I would love to get excited about upcoming international tournaments in the same way I did about France „98 for example but there are many reasons why instead I dread whatever embarrassment is to come. And who do I blame for this? The media. Those people who build up our players, only to knocking them down so emphatically just weeks later. Anyone who has read Paul Scholes‟ autobiography will be able to tell you that playing for England is not as enjoyable as it should be. Fear of the media‟s reaction? Not enjoying the regime of certain coaches? What ever the reason is, until they enjoy representing their nation, how can I? Hopefully a home grown coach will take charge at the Euros. That, for me, will be a start. If the media can then lay off our players and let them enjoy their football my pride may be reinstated. And I really hope it does. Steph Doehler - Managing Editor

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editors’ notes Football fans are strange creatures, it seems we are never happy. After United got through to the last 16 of the Europa League this month I couldn‟t help but notice how negative and critical United fans were on Twitter about the performance. Not all of them of course, but a majority it seemed. Granted the second leg was not what we hoped but we had done our hard work in the first leg. Cup football is about getting through, however you get there, isn‟t it? Of course we won‟t be happy with the performance but really it doesn‟t matter. You try to learn from what went wrong but ultimately you should just be happy to get through. It can‟t be better to play well and go out surely? Obviously we would love to play well every game and win but that‟s just not possible all season long. I guess as United fans we have been spoilt. It‟s the same in the league. If we win 5-3 people are unhappy we conceded so many, if we win 2-0 we should have won by more. People have said all season and even before that how this squad isn‟t Fergie‟s best but if we win the league again then they are good enough. It‟s not just us, it‟s all football fans. The debate over beautiful football vs winning ugly is always there but to me there is only one answer, winning. Hopefully it isn‟t ugly, but I‟ll take that if it wins us another trophy. I admire teams that play great football but I wouldn‟t swap our trophy cabinet for most of those teams. Not to mention that I think we play some great football ourselves.

COMING UP THIS MONTH Thursday 8th March: United vs Athletic Bilbao Europa League Kick off 8.05pm Sunday 11th March: United vs West Brom Premier League Kick off 2.00pm Thursday 15th March: Athletic Bilbao vs United Europa League Kick off 6.00pm Sunday 18th March: Wolves vs United Premier League Kick off 1.30pm Monday 26th March: United vs Fulham Premier League Kick off 8.00pm Monday 2nd April: Blackburn vs United Premier League Kick off 8.00pm

So I wonder, do we ask too much from our team? There is nothing wrong with wanting more. United‟s constant battle to be the best is the reason we have won so much. It‟s what our club is all about. So maybe we should keep striving for perfection after all. Starting with the rest of this season.

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Contents Issue 13, March 2012 O3 Editors‟ Notes REGULAR FEATURES 06 On Our Radar 07 Editor‟s View

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08 Shaw Show 10 Micky Owen: PI 16 A Month In Football 25 Born & Red 30 The Day That...

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SPECIAL FEATURES 12 Standing Firm? 18 Rachel Riley Interview 21 Eric The King 24 It‟s Not Over…Until United Score

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28 The Numbers Game 34 Down To The Wire ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


On our Radar this month... Fernando Llorente: The 27 year old Spanish striker could be Bilbao‟s main threat to United in their Europa League campaign. 19 goals in all competitions this season, he‟ll be one to watch. Peter Odemwingie: WBA‟s top striker this season is in a rich vein of form at the moment. Often a tough tie for United so the defenders must be their

Clint Dempsey: The American has been Fulham‟s best player this season, netting on 16 occasions. He was half heartedly linked with United during the transfer window but remains at Craven Cottage.

Yakubu: Scored two goals in Blackburn‟s 3-2 victory over United at Old Trafford earlier in the season.

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EDITOR’S VIEW The FA seeking new manager after Capello quits Harry Redknapp in the driving seat for England’s number one job after the Italian Stallion quits over John Terry. Ok so this is hardly a breaking headline but seeing as it‟s our first issue since Fabio Capello sensationally walking out on England five months prior to Euro 2012 we had to discuss the topic. Most people are suggesting Harry Redknapp is the only real home grown contender for the role and there is no doubt he is our best English manager in the Premier League. We all know his Spurs‟ side have taken on the league with relative success this season, currently finding themselves third in the

table. As already discussed in my editorial, I really hope we go English again despite the poor showing last time we had one of our own in charge. Regardless of our head coach, England will not win the European Championships in the summer, that‟s not even up for debate. But the fact is we do have a decent looking young side with many prospects working their way into the England set-up. For me, I have my fingers crossed ‟Arry takes on the role come the summer.

AGREE OR DISAGREE? We want to know what you think about anything you read in the magazine. You can email: editor.fub@live.co.uk or tweet us @footballUB

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AVB gone as Roman’s tinkers with management again Following Chelsea‟s 1-0 loss to West Brom speculation mounted that Andre Villas-Boas was a dead man walking so it was no surprise that Roman Abramovich cut ties with the Portuguese manager the following day. Most football fans, pundits and media types felt sympathy for the 34 year old who always faced an up hill battle against the dressing room egos. Rumours will no doubt circulate that it was in fact the players‟ attitudes towards him that got him the boot, one thing‟s for sure: taking money out of the equation, what top coach would want the Chelsea job, historically a poisoned chalice since Jose Mourinho left in 2007? That said, as we all know money talks in football. AVB‟s payoff means he never needs to work again!

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THE SHAW SHOW This was not some game in a park on a Sunday morning before the pubs open. This was Manchester United against Liverpool I do not think I have ever encountered an atmosphere like that at Old Trafford for quite some time. Don‟t get me wrong I have been present at the Theatre of Dreams when the fans have been blown the roof off but for sheer, poison, bile and hate this season‟s match against our friends from up the East Lancs will take some beating. Wasn‟t it just lovely? This is why I was a little shocked at some journalists wringing their hands in displeasure at the goings on at Old Trafford. This was not some game in a park on a Sunday morning before the pubs open. This was

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Manchester United against Liverpool. That is not to say that the atmosphere cannot go over the top as the darker elements of BOTH sets of fans exchange songs about the respective sides‟ tragedies. Anyone who sings about Munich or Hillsborough needs to take a serious look at themselves and then read up on what happened on both of those dark days. I am sure they will not sing those songs again. Our matches against Liverpool should always be the first match any selfrespecting Red will look out

for when the season‟s fixtures come out (sorry City, but you will always be a poor second although that is something you have grown accustomed to over the years). The rivalry between the two cities dating back to the industrial revolution and the building of the Manchester Ship Canal that gave Manchester an important link to the Irish Sea and thereby bypassing those lazy bastards and their strike obsessed dock workers provides a nice backdrop to the rivalry. The obsession the two clubs have in getting

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one over each other growing through the 1980s and 1990s as first Liverpool and then Manchester United became the dominant force in English football. This season‟s match had an extra dab of spice to help things along and that was the backdrop of the first time Luis Suarez and our very own Paddy Evra would come together since Suarez was accused of and found guilty of racially abusing our left back. I am not going to go over old ground with the racist stuff other than to say that the fact Suarez was found guilty and the increasingly desperate and at times downright bonkers attempts by Liverpool to try to deflect the guilt onto Evra left most, if not all Reds, perplexed and ready to greet our old friends with the kind of reception normally only heard in Glasgow on Old Firm day. From my vantage point towards the back of the Stretford End upper tier I could not tell whether or not they had shaken hands but word certainly got round at half time as mobile phones beeped and buzzed with text messages telling people what had gone on both prematch and in the tunnel at half-time. I am no fan of the prematch handshake. I believe it is one of those daft things brought in by the Premier League to advertise their

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“product” and jumped on by BSkyB to help advertise football as one gigantic lovein where football fans can sit together and share a joke while the two sets of football players all worship and respect each other. Complete nonsense of course. All it does is magnetise when two players cannot stand the sight of each other. Think back to Gary Neville squeezing the life out of Vieira‟s hand at Highbury prior to the 4-2 just after Keaneo had chased Vieira down the tunnel, Wayne Bridge ignoring John Terry after he had found out his ex-missus had enjoyed a spot of nocturnal relations with Terry and in the same match Bellamy saying clearly to Terry “I‟m having none of it” whilst briefly shaking his hand. However, if it enabled Evra to show to the world that he was the innocent party and Suarez was to be shown up as an eminently dislikeable fellow then I am all for the handshake on this occasion. Not as if there should have been any doubt anyway.

points.

The match itself was actually quite a forgettable affair. United deserved to win although I think we should be grateful for the half-time fisticuffs for sending out the team in red with fire in their bellies as they set about Liverpool and grabbed two quick goals that would be enough to grab the victory and the three points but a win over Liverpool is about much more than three

Some journalist wrote after the match that they are grateful we will be meeting each other again this season. I for one am not and cannot wait for next season‟s fixtures to find out when we will meet again.

What happened at the end of the match made those nerve jangling final few minutes worth going through as the Stretford End to a man (and woman, of course this is the 21st century) stood and chanted “Justice for Evra” over and over again. The players acknowledged the fans and then came the moment we waited for. Patrice Evra danced towards us and held his arms aloft in both victory and thanks to the fans who stood behind him. Whether he was aware or not of the presence of Suarez is open to debate. The Liverpool players were incensed and ran to Evra. The Stretford End erupted. How dare they? Liverpool players surrounding one of our own right in front of us. Thankfully the United players leapt to Evra‟s defence with Rafael hilariously copying Evra‟s dance as if goading the Liverpool players to try and start on him aswell.

By Vinnie Shaw

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FICTION

MICKY OWEN: PI By Brett Burgers At Manchester United, without even a sniff of football as a distraction, Micky Owen had now held the position as SAF’s own personal detective for a whole year. He performs his monthly investigations along with spirit guide Eric and lackadaisical partner Berba. We think we’ve finally worked out what he provides the club but we’re too embarrassed to make it public knowledge. It was a typical Wednesday morning. Berba had fetched me the morning paper and was now relaxing with his Etch-aSketch in his basket. I‟d got him one like SAF has for Phelan. I was going to get him the slightly more expensive one, like the one Roberto Mancini has for Carlos Tevez, but these are times of austerity. Besides, horses don‟t look after themselves. Well, I suppose they do when they‟re not in captivity, supplementing the whims of the capitalist tyranny that the gambling fraternity propagates. Stop making me say those things. I don‟t even know what I‟m saying, let alone care. Berba didn‟t even flinch as the fax machine blinked into life. - Berba, could you pass me that please? TODAY! A few hours later after he‟d reached across I skimmed over the details of the message. It was from SAF. He‟d sent a broadsheet article highlighting the issue of wageslavery in world football. It was a bit boring if I‟m honest and had a nap before returning to it, I mean who gives one if someone isn‟t smart enough to have a mega-bucks contract. I awoke to Berba pointing furiously at the paragraph ringed with Phelan‟s blood. STOP THE PRESS!! The article had gone on to mention the recent comments from Tomasz Kuz … Kusc … Kuszca … Kuszczak. Jeez, that surname is a mess isn‟t it? It‟s all over the

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place. I need a little sit down. Oh, I‟m already sat down. Oh well, I‟ll stand up, so I can sit down to make the point. Aaaahhh, I needed that sit down after that. Where‟s this going … Oh yeah. He was making out he was a slave. This wouldn‟t do. We could not allow a third, possibly fourth-rate goalkeeper besmirch the good name of our club. Peter Schmeichel would be doing those annoying cartwheels in his grave if he were toast. - Come on Berba. Something would have to be done and fast! My main contact at the club was Berba. He finally got round to telling me he didn‟t have a clue where Tomasz Kuz … Kusc … Tom was. To be honest he‟s not really part of the club, so I didn‟t really expect much and I reminded him of that fact. My other main contact was myself. I obviously couldn‟t call myself on my own phone, so I yoinked Berba‟s phone off him while he was sobbing. There was no answer and annoyingly I was missing a call while trying. - Berba what are you calling me for? Can‟t you see I‟m busy? FAIL! Eric popped his head out from behind a cloud: - Sometimes Micky the slave you seek maybe inside your own mind!

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WTF?! - Have you been skipping your medication again, Eric? He disappeared with a “Harrumph. I decided to just go to Old Trafford myself and have a poke around. The last time I saw Tom he was heaving coal into the incinerator for the under-soil heating system in the basement, so I followed my instincts and headed there. Sometimes the last place you see something is where it might still be or something like that. - SOCCER GUY! It was Malcolm Glazer. - Hello, erm, sir?! He was shovelling fifty pound notes, from a bag marked „Season Ticket funds‟ into the thing. - Have you seen a soccer guy with an ornament for a head down here recently? I asked. - NO! Can‟t help you there, soccer guy. They stopped using soccer guys for this when we redirected the flue to our office and away from the under-soil heating system. Why don‟t you try the cotton fields? That was a ruddy good idea. The cotton field was a hive of activity. Our

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kit makers Nike were fighting the economic downturn by offering voluntary positions to unskilled workers, providing them with a cardboard box and a bread roll for a day‟s work. I asked if anyone had seen Tom recently and they informed me he had dropped down the picking order after dropping baskets left, right and centre, but I could find him in „solitary‟. As I opened the heavy metal door, Tom cowered and shielded his eyes from the light. - There you are! I exclaimed. I took the Duct tape from my back pocket, tore off a strip and pressed it across his mouth. - No more talking from you from now on. There‟s a good boy! I said, whilst giving him an affectionate double slap across the cheek. Case Closed. So, Berba has visited all the homes of everyone who reads this over the last few weeks and fitted the self-destruct device to all the hardware with downloadable capabilities for the safe disposal of these very sensitive files. So, here goes…. 3,2,1 … Fuck me! My house is on fire. I can‟t see. Can someone call an ambulance for Christ‟s sake!

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STANDING FIRM? By Liam Scott The subject of standing areas has again begun to surface, particularly in recent months. The main reason for this question being raised is the lack of atmosphere at football matches. Some of those who feel standing areas would better the atmosphere of football matches, are calling for trial areas at large stadiums, whist some feel areas would not go far enough and that

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whole stadiums should be converted to the standing stadiums many of them once were. There are many reasons both for and against, and without proffering too much of an opinion one way or the other, I will attempt to cover a few of the key areas that I myself have debated with fans ranging from Conference to Premier League supporters.

Firstly, let‟s look at practicality- That‟s a lot of money were talking about! Clubs are already on the brink of collapse. Could you image informing them that to achieve the best possible atmosphere- they need to remove the seats, resurface the floors- then there fans will sing louder? Most clubs haven‟t recovered from creating all seater stadiums What makes an atmosphere? I hardly doubt that it has anything to do with whether or not you‟re stood or sat. Surely atmosphere is built by the fans, which is generated by the performance in front of everyone? You want better atmosphere - sing louder, play better! We all like our personal space right? So why do we now want to share it with

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twice as many people? Crammed in together trying to get a glimpse of the game through the heads of the taller people who insist on pushing to the front of the area. Is that how we would rather watch football? I keep hearing the eternal argument that it is done successfully in Europe. How is that the basis for an argument? India also make tea better but we don‟t try to copy their method, so why copy a method that works for a completely different continent of fans? One of the reasons it works for Europe is that they are less conscious about their safety at such events. Why would a club want to risk the payout of claim after claim? Whether we like it or not the UK is in the grip of a claims culture - you‟ve all been involved in the accident in your car that wasn‟t your fault…and all suddenly developed whip lash? If someone fell at a ground you can be sure a wellknown televised accident claim company would be the first to receive the call. Is it any safer to be stood or sat? Let‟s address this bit once and for all. How many of us sit at games? Nobody does! The overzealous stewards that throw people out for standing all the time are a bit farfetched, and to quote a BBC presenter, they should be shot in front of their families. (I jest- before we get 30,000 complaints).

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So safety isn‟t the prevailing issue then. Teams in the lower leagues manage to stand without crushing each other to death.

you couldn‟t.

Here‟s another interesting discussion point. Standing grounds = more capacity? More capacity, more gate receipts. More gate receipts, more money. More money, better players.

Or…hybrid stadium, seats and standing. For those that enjoy standing in the same spot for 90 minutes watching football between people‟s heads? It will cost clubs less than full stadium overhaul (again), allow a small amount more people in and allow safe evacuation

If someone fell at a ground you can be sure a well-known televised accident claim company would be the first to receive the call. …better players…you get the point. But to halt you in your tracks, Arsenal vs Sunderland FA Cup weekend. Did you see the amount of seats that were empty? Recurring issue across the country is the amount of seats that are left empty. Surely filing the seats is a better option to improving the atmosphere in the grounds. More people, more noise… simple! And how with all seater stadiums do you include provision for children/ elderly/ disabled etc? Answer,

So all that leaves is either keep it as it is, and put asses in the seats!

of stadiums in emergencies, whilst still allowing the remainder the opportunity to sit during tedious games, or stand at our seats during the good ones, whilst not worrying about the inconsiderate twerps that try to push in the way. I think at this point I should point out that yes, I may have lied about not proffering an opinion. I think it‟s been pointed out that I tend to sit on the side of why not just fill the seats we‟ve got, instead of spending money to make more space for the people that don‟t go to football and therefore kill of the small amount of atmosphere we currently have. On a sub- note, we fill our stadium every week, and have no problem cheering the good performances. So as far as Manchester United goes, keep the performance high. Atmosphere, no problem.

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United fans proposing for singing section inside ground A proposal has been submitted to the football club and will be discussed in the Fans Forum meeting on Friday 9th March.

A number of Manchester United supporters groups and publications have canvassed for a new singing area at Old Trafford in order to improve the dying atmosphere inside the ground on match days. Stretford End Flags, MUST, United We Stand, Reds Away, Red News and Pete Boyle have all added their support to the campaign.

within the ground. Many Manchester United fans are citing the decline in the atmosphere as one of the main reasons why they have given up attending Old Trafford or as a reason why they will not be renewing their season ticket next summer.

If you want more information on the campaign you can visit: www.stretfordendflags.com Football United Fanzine would like to offer their support in this campaign and improve the atmosphere inside Old Trafford week in, week out.

It has been proposed that the front lower section of East Lower will be turned into a designated singing section from the start of the 2012-13 season, and this would be a Season Ticket Holder area only. Supporters have lead the calls for the singing section to be implemented

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Photos by Darren @ManUtdOT

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A MONTH IN FOOTBALL P W D L Pts City United Spurs

25 19 3 3 60 25 18 4 3 58 25 16 5 4 53

United 2 Liverpool 1 Premier League 11th March 2011 THE STORY The pre -match talk centred on Suarez and Evra, and following the Uruguayan's snub United were even more motivated for victory. Two goals from Wayne Rooney early in the second half saw United take the lead before Saurez pulled one back late on. United held on to take all three points against over most hated rivals and Evraâ€&#x;s victory dance at full time spoke volumes.

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TH too firs Lea goa You nan but Ge Un foll wh fail sec cer Am (se pag


P W D L Pts

P W D L Pts

EUROPA LEAGUE

EUROPA LEAGUE

Leg 1

Leg 2

Ajax 0 United 2 Europa League 16th March 2012

United 1 Ajax 2 Europa League 23rd March 2012

Norwich 1 United 2 Premier League 26th March 2012

Spurs 1 United 3 Premier League 4th March 2012

THE STORY United survived a European scare after a late Ajax goal saw them grab victory at Old Trafford. It looked as though it was going to be a fairly easy night for United after taking the lead in the 6th minute from Hernandez. Araz Ozbilz equalised before the half time break. United created little in the second half and it was no surprise when Ajax took the lead.

THE STORY Ryan Giggs celebrated his 900th appearance for United with a stoppage time winner to secure all three points for United. The visitors had taken the lead early on through another veteran, Paul Scholes, before Grant Holt equalised with seven minutes remaining. It was up to the Welshman to become Unitedâ€&#x;s hero and maintain pressure at the top of the table.

THE STORY Oddly despite the scoreline Spurs could feel hard done by following a decent performance by the home side. Adebayor had a goal ruled out for handballed in the first half before Wayne Rooney headed United in front on half time for an unexpected lead. Ashley Young secured a second half brace to put United in control before Defoe pulled back a consolation late on.

HE STORY United ok control of their st ever Europa ague tie. Second half als from Ashley ung and Javier Herndez secured victory t it was David de a in goal who kept nited in the game lowing a first half in hich the visitors led to get out of cond gear. The fans rtainly enjoyed their msterdam experience ee fan photos on ge‌)

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City United Spurs

26 20 3 3 63 26 19 4 3 61 26 16 5 5 53

City United Spurs

27 21 3 3 66 27 20 4 3 64 27 16 5 6 53

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Rachel Riley, the number lady off Countdown (not her official job title) is als a massive United fan. She taken the time out to spea to Steph about United, working with Jeff Stellin and which players would do best on the Countdown Hi Rachel. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. First off, you did some filming for MUTV in 2010, how did that come about? On Countdown I've mentioned so many times that I'm a United fan that someone at MUTV heard about it and approached my agent to see if I would be interested in making the Inside Carrington programme. The idea was for a couple of players to show me round like a backstage tour but at that stage they hadn't worked out who the players would be. Obviously I bit their hands off, my agent had to make sure I was sitting down before she told me and I was especially excited when I found out it was Giggsy and Rio who would be showing me round.

RACHEL RILEY 18

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rs t so e’s ak

ng d n.

Was it nerve racking meeting them or have you met before? I was extremely nervous and excited about meeting the players and I'd never met any of them before. You get used to meeting people in TV and I don't get starstruck easily but Ryan Giggs is such an icon it was hard not to. As I told him to his embarrassment, I've grown up watching him and I was only 5 years old when he made his debut for the first team so it was a dream come true as a United fan to meet him. It was an honour meeting Rio too but he's so cheeky and fun he put me at ease instantly. You grew up in Essex, how did you become a United fan? My dad's a Salford lad originally but moved down South when he met my mum. I still have a lot of family up there. Dad's been going to Old Trafford for over 50 years and has a season ticket in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and lets me borrow his ticket when I'm up in Manchester filming Countdown. Everyone remembers their first trip to Old Trafford, what can you tell us about yours? The first games I went to as a kid were at Ipswich away and at Wembley against Oldham in 94, but the first one I can remember seeing at Old Trafford was in 98. We only lost one Premier

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League game at home all season and that was the one we went to! We lost 3-2 to Middlesbrough and my Dad missed both goals having to take my little brother to the toilet! As you film Countdown in Manchester, do you get to many matches these days? I got to around ten matches last year. Jeff Stelling snuck

The class of 92 were special and it's a testament to their talent and commitment to the club that these two are still going! me in with him for some of the Champions League matches and managed to get me and my Dad tickets to the final which was a brilliant experience despite not winning. Obviously I won't be able to do that this year (!) but I've been a couple of

times this season so far and hope I'll get to some more soon. You're 26 now so you've witness some fantastic players through the 90's and 00's. Can you pick a favourite? Solskjaer and Schmeichel were two of my favourite Reds growing up. Solskjaer was just a natural striker and made it look so easy and Schmeichel is still the best goalkeeper I've ever seen. I canâ€&#x;t not mention Giggs and Scholes too. The class of 92 were special and it's a testament to their talent and commitment to the club that these two are still going! Which of the current players do you think would do well on Countdown? We in the Football United Blogs towers think Michael Owen or Ryan Giggs might make good candidates. Haha I'd love to test your theory! Rio would give them a good game too I reckon, and out of the foreign

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players I wouldn't bet against Hernandez. From what I've seen of him with some of our other South American players he seems like an amazing translator in interviews. When most people watch Countdown they are hoping a funny word will come up on the letters rounds. What's the funniest moment youâ€&#x;ve experienced on the show? There have been so many funny words but it shows what a dirty mind I have by saying what I've lost it to! COTTAGER, GROWLERS and TRIBADE, a specific type of lesbian, are some of my favourites! You worked with Jeff Stelling on Countdown until recently, he makes our

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Saturday afternoons! Is he as excitable in really life as he comes across on Soccer Saturday? Jeff is absolutely brilliant, he's a really nice guy and a real pro and just like he appears on Soccer Saturday. I loved getting all the insider football gossip from him, he knows everything first! And now you're working along side Nick Hewer - we have to ask - is he as scary as he is in The Apprentice? Yes! I'm scared to miss any numbers games in case I might get fired! Finally, predictions for the remainder of the season: 20th League title or Runners Up? Number 20 I hope! There

has been so much hype in the media about City now being the dominant force but they have no experience in seeing out a season and grinding out results when it matters like Sir Alex does so well. We've had a lot of injuries this year yet still we're right up there and know how to get over the finishing line. I think it will go right down to the wire and the last day of the season but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can do it and retain our crown.

You can watch Rachel on Countdown weekdays at 3.10pm on Channel 4.

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CANTONA Just what made the French King so special? By Rachel Turney It‟s hard to believe that Eric Cantona retired from football 15 years ago, given how highly he is still regarded and how much he is still talked about. It is also hard to believe that he was only at United for five seasons, although what a five seasons it was. In that short space of time between November 1992 and the summer of 1997 he amassed four League titles and two FA Cups, which is particularly impressive given his eight month ban from football. It is probably no coincidence that the only season he didn‟t win a medal at United was during the 1994-95 season which is when his suspension fell. He played 185 games for United, scoring 82 goals. He was also voted PFA player‟s player of the year for the 19931994 season having scored 25 goals, his highest in a season for United. Not bad going for a man who cost United just £1.2 million from Leeds. 21

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Many feel he retired from football too early at the age of just 30 and could have had any more years of success but the decision epitomised everything about the man. So just what is it that made Eric Cantona so special? He is not only considered the catalyst for United‟s reemergence in the 90‟s but also for changing English football. Apart from Peter Schmeichel, the United starting XI which Cantona slotted into, was all British with the likes of Parker, Irwin, Bruce, Sharpe, Pallister, Robson, Ince, McClair, Hughes and Giggs. English football was obviously very different back then to now where there are almost more foreign players than British players. The English league back then was not considered the best as it arguably is now and as much as some people are unhappy about how many foreign players are now in our league, few could argue that they have raised the profile and elevated it to new heights over the years. Cantona was one of the first, if not the first to start this motion. He brought something different to the

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division which excited the fans. He was unpredictable but he was always brilliant. He oozed class and had unwavering confidence in his own ability. He had more than a hint of arrogance but he backed this up with unbelievable skill. He tried things others didn‟t because he believed it would work. The United fans loved him, they still do. Gary Neville has said “He will always have a place in the hearts of the fans because of his charisma and daring. That temper is part of the legend. People loved him because he did, and said, things they would love to have got away with”. He helped show that foreign players could be a success in the Premier League and this prompted others to join him in the hope they could achieve the same success. Cantona is given more credit than maybe any other player for United ending their 26 year wait to retain the league and rightly so. The fact that he was foreign added to his

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


magic and mystery which in turn led to opponents both admiring him and fearing him. Other clubs wanted their own piece of magic and it now seemed that abroad was where to look for it. It wasn‟t just the impact he had on the opposition, it was also the impact he had on his own team mates. Gary Neville said of the French maestro “He had massively high standards, he was a perfectionist. But because it was Eric, you didn‟t feel belittled, it just made you strive to do better. We were desperate to impress him”. Paul Scholes also felt the presence of King Eric “Everybody is aware of the inspiration he provided on the pitch, and it‟s well known how dedicated he was at training, but maybe it‟s not so widely appreciated that he was always a brilliant bloke, too”. Maybe the most memorable goal Cantona scored is the winner in the FA cup final against Liverpool in 1996. He was captain on the day and was only recently back from his ban. His 86th minute winner meant he was the first player outside of Britain to lift the FA cup as captain. Sir Alex explained why he made the Frenchman a captain despite his feeling that strikers were often not a good choice for the role “Cantona was a captain, because he has a remarkable impact on young players, he is their idol.” Up until the 1998-99 season the top scorer in the Premier

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Eric Cantona hailed by United fans in the Stretford End.

League had always been English. Looking back now, the last time a British player was top scorer in the league was the 1999-00 season. That in itself tells a story. If you take a closer look at the players who have won it since, they are nearly all very much in the mould of our own French King. You have fellow Frenchmen Henry and Anelka as well as Ronaldo and Tevez. You also have Berbatov who many feel is the closest United have come to having another Cantona, not that such a thing is of course possible. The influence of foreign players on our league can of course not all be attributed to Cantona alone but it‟s hard to argue that his presence and success at Manchester United didn‟t have some impact on the future of the Premier league. Many feel he retired from football too early at the age of just 30 and could have had any more years of success but the decision epitomised everything about the man. He wanted to go out at the top and be remembered at his very best. He didn‟t want to play lower league football or be a bit part

player, he wanted to be the best. “The way he left was typical Eric. There would be no diminishing of his legend, no slide into mediocrity. He‟d finish at the top, or as near as he could make it - captain of a club that had won the Premiership. He certainly left us wanting more, which isn‟t a bad way to go,” Gary Neville explains. He left the whole Premier League wanting more and that desire to be the best was a challenge to those that remained. Cantona had made a massive impact on English football in such a short space of time and the repercussions can still be felt today. There is a reason people still talk about him so highly, 15 years after he retired from football. The same reason he is known as King Eric and the same reason the United fans will probably never stop singing the 12 Days of Cantona. It seems a brilliant coincidence that the Premier League was formed around the time Cantona joined United, with Premier meaning first in importance and also having French origins. Football as a whole has just as much to thank him for as United do.

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


IT’S NOT OVER...UNTIL UNITED SCORE Manchester United’s greatest comebacks.

Bayern Munich 2-1, 1999 Now do I really need to tell you the story of this balmy night in 1999? Okay then, United were trailing by a single goal and heading into added time of the Champions League final in the Nou Camp. And then they won a corner. Beckham whipped it in, there was a scramble and the ball fell to Giggs. He scuffed his shot and Sheringham swept it in to level it and set the final up for extra time. Legend has it that Steve McClaren, Sir Alex‟s assistant at the time, told the boss to change to 4-4-2 for extra time, to which the gaffer replied, “this isn‟t finished yet Steve.” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer proved him right, poking in Sheringham‟s header from another Beckham cross. Cue bedlam on the pitch – Solskjaer actually injured himself in his celebration – and pandemonium in the stands and at home. As Sir Alex put it, “football, bloody hell!”

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In honour of January’s heroic comeback against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, we at the FUFanzine thought we’d compile a little list of United’s greatest ever comebacks. And yes, 1999 is a likely candidate!

By Harry Sherlock Second only to the Champions League final comeback because of the importance of the former, United‟s turnaround at White Hart Lane was arguably more impressive. The late Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege had given Spurs a 3 goal lead at half time and United looked in disarray. Many have said since that Sir Alex told his men that if they got a goal back, Spurs would fold. He was right, and within a minute Andy Cole had pulled a goal back with a header through yet another inch perfect cross from David Beckham. Laurent Blanc reduced the lead even more, Van Nistelrooy equalised, Veron put United ahead and Beckham put the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake to seal one of the greatest comebacks, not only in United history, but in Premier League history.

Spurs 5-3, 2001 ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


Spurs, 5-2 2009

West Ham 4-2, 2001

Poor old Spurs. Twice into the list of United‟s greatest comebacks. You‟d think they‟d know how to guard a lead against the Red Devils by now wouldn‟t you? Darren Bent and Luka Modric gave United one hell of a fright as Tottenham took a 2 goal lead into half time. Whatever Sir Alex said in the 15 minutes that followed worked, as Cristiano Ronaldo pulled a goal back through a, somewhat controversial, penalty. It was Wayne Rooney who nabbed the equaliser, Ronaldo put the home side ahead, and Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov completed what ended up as a rout. Like I said, poor old Spurs.

A pivotal game in 2010/2011 title race with the Hammers battling relegation, and United scrapping for the title. A Patrice Evra handball and Nemanja Vidic foul on Carlton Cole allowed Mark Noble to score twice from the penalty spot and take a 2-0 lead into the dressing room at half time. Wayne Rooney inspired the fightback though, smashing in a 25 yard free kick, drilling home a drive from just inside the penalty box and slotting home a penalty to give United the lead. It was Javier Hernandez who wrapped the victory up though, putting it away on the 84th minute.

Arguably the most famous example of „Fergie time‟ in Premier League history, wherein United simply had to win to stay in contention for the title. It didn‟t look good as United headed into the last ten minutes, as a John Sheridan penalty had given Wednesday a 1 goal lead. There were four minutes left on the referee‟s watch when Steve Bruce powered a header into the back of the net to level the score and give United hope of completing a most remarkable turnaround. The Red Devils kept pressing and, six minutes into injury time, they got their reward. A clipped cross from the right wing found Steve Bruce‟s stooping head once more, and suddenly United were 2-1 up and 2 points clear at the top of the league. Unbelievable!

Sheffield Wednesday 2-1, 1993 25

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


BORN AN This month we have put the website’s very own match anaylsist Mark Carney into the Born & Red hotseat as he discusses his excitement for Phil Jones, French exchange students and hating some fans. Name: Mark Carney Age: 26 Occupation: Part time sports writer, part time call centre operator. Where do you reside? Hyde in Tameside. How did you become a United fan? Sometime in 1993, our family had a foreign exchange student from France stay with us. He introduced me to United and Eric Cantona, leaving his posters up when he left. The rest they say is history. I have been a fan ever since, despite coming from a City family. First match you attended? It was actually a reserves match and I remember thinking "place looks

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smaller than it does on TV." I later found out it was at Gigg Lane (Bury) which made me laugh! I was only 7 -8, not the brightest child. I started to going to the real thing shortly afterwards. Preferential seating area at Old Trafford? I normally get put up in the sticks, the nose bleed section of the North Stand, or in the corners, but once I got to sit in the South Stand about a dozen rows behind the player boxes etc. Best part was hearing SAF shouting etc. Favourite ever United player? There's too many. Andrei Kanchelskis was the first name I got on my shirt and who I wanted to be growing up, I have big love for Schmeichel and still believe he's the greatest. But it's got to be Ole! The boy is

amazing, brilliant and impressively humble. Favourite current player? Probably Chicharito. I always get excited when he's playing. I love the Da Silva twins, they're like United's answer to the Mitchell brothers! And I think Valencia is massively underrated. Signing you were most excited by? Recently, Phil Jones. I was impressed with him at Blackburn and think in five years, he'll be up there with the likes of Pique as the best in the game. I was overjoyed when I heard we were singing Teddy Sheringham, I'm a huge fan of his. And Michael Owen, I think he has so much more to give. Least liked United player? There's too many I

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ND RED disapproved off (Bebe, Djemba-Djemba and all those Manucho's who never made the grade), but slowly becoming a burden to the side is Anderson. Everyone talks about his potential, and this being his year but he seems a liability. I don't think he has game and although I wish otherwise, we need to get rid. Are you an away match goer? Not really. Unless it's local or a big deal. Best away ground? I like the new City Stadium, but the Emirates is a gorgeous stadium, really nice. I really want to see the Nou Camp. I've heard it's pretty special. Best and worst things about the club? The best is probably Sir Alex and the mentality he has embedded in the club. He believes in youth, passion, attractive football and perseverance. He has made this club what it is, right or wrong. And he's up there with the Busby's, Clough's and Paisley's as the best. The worst is the amount of blame we get for ruining football. Even with City's current spending, that's apparently OUR fault...

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Who do you want as the next United manager? In an ideal world, Jose. I can't see anyone else as being big enough. Hopefully, he'd come in and help the young players grow and evolve and then someone with significance to the club would come in, like Solskjaer or Giggsy (if he wants it). I don't want a Hughes/Keane/Bruce to be fair, they're not good/ special enough. Any experiences with players to share? On top of the usual signature things/tours etc, I have pictures from when I was little and Bryan Robson was having a party at the same place I was having a birthday, and I got to have my picture with him. I also tend to bump into Federico Macheda a lot, and met Mario Balotelli in Selfridges in the Trafford Centre. Best match you've ever attended? League Cup Semi vs. City at Old Trafford in 2010. When Rooney scored the winner, the ground just exploded into songs directed at the City fans and Tevez.

“In five years, he'll be up there with the likes of Pique as the best in the game.� Best moment as a United fan? The 2008 Champions League Final vs Chelsea. Watched with my friends in a bar in New York, surrounded by Chelsea fans. I laughed, I cried, I drank, I cried some more. Worst moment as fan? Losing to Barca in 2011. Having made the effort to go to London and be surrounded by the fans, the atmosphere and expectation, it was devastating to watch the second half. Biggest prick in football? Can I say the fans? Not all off them, just the bad ones. The ones that make comments and ruin it for everyone. Our best United XI? Schmeichel, Neville, Bruce, Vidic, Irwin, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Cantona, Van Nistlerooy. Ole on the bench, waiting for the 84th minutes.

@markcarney17 ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


THE NUMBERS GAME Is a shirt number actually all that important to players? Furthermore is it important to a clubsâ€&#x; supporters? Well for Manchester United fans the answer is yes, and there is one shirt number in particular that evokes debate and discussion amongst the fans. Al Monger discusses the importance of the number seven shirt. Remember the days when football teams took the field with numbers 1 to 11 on their back, days when you pretty well knew how the team would line up on the pitch, and hey, days when players names weren't on the back of their shirts? No? Seriously? Well I guess there's no point in asking if you remember when Liverpool last won the league then, because that actually preceded the advent of squad numbers. Mmm, squad numbers. Introduced in 1993 with the introduction of the Premiership, a time when most clubs pretty much allocated numbers 1-11 in line with tradition, the 'regulars' being handed the shirt befitting their position, meaning non-regulars and new purchases acquired a shirt from number 12 upwards. And only when players retired, transferred out or fell from favour did the 'handing over' of a shirt take place. Such of course was the case

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with Gary Neville. Waiting in the wings as the heir apparent to Paul Parker as United's regular right back he started with the number 27 shirt. He then briefly acquired the 20 shirt before finally laying claim to the 'rightful' number 2 which he would not relinquish until he retired.

sometimes I do. And hey, this season happens to be one of those times.

It's only a shirt number though yes? Who cares what number is on your back? Certainly the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar SolskjĂŚr might well subscribe to this view, their respective careers at Old Trafford seeing them wear the numbers 16, 18 (and now 22!) and 20 respectively. And you can hardly say that the fact that none of them ever wore a 'conventional' number makes any of these players any less of a legend at United can you?

And yes there's a particular shirt number in question. And I'm thinking that some of you might be ahead of me here and know which one I'm alluding to...... Yes? NOOO!!! NOT the number 1!! Leave our Dave alone, he'll be ok!! .... You at the back with your hand up, yes, you're correct, it's the number 7.

Having just asked the question as to who cares what number is on your back, um, well ok, I admit it,

Having just asked the question as to who cares what number is on your back, um, well ok, I admit it, sometimes I do. And hey, this season happens to be one of those times.

Yes the Geordies can bang on about their famous number 9 shirt but we at United have a proud tradition too with the number 7. In my lifetime the likes of Best, Coppell, Robson, Giggs (yes indeed, he wore it twice in 1991-92) Cantona, Beckham and Ronaldo have graced

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


the famous number 7 shirt, an array of talent to make any United fan not merely smile, but to positively purr. Seven, sept or sete, as the aforementioned trio of Beckham, Cantona and Ronaldo might say in their respective languages. But it really doesn't matter in which language you say it. When it comes to Manchester United, the significance of the number 7 has its own meaning, its own special, particular magic. Currently it's worn by Michael Owen. Who, admittedly not through personal choice, rarely plays. And who as a result seems to have more of an eye on his stables these days than he does on events on the football pitch. Which is fine, but..... Without in any way meaning to disrespect Michael (his injury time derby winner in 2009 will forever guarantee him a special place in my heart), his possession of the number 7 shirt in my humble opinion smacks of something not quite right. Yes, I'd feel differently if he was a regular or possibly even a fairly

29

regular starter, but he's not. In fact he is patently so far down the pecking order at United now that even when fit, the prospect of seeing him adorning the iconic shirt on the Old Trafford pitch is about as likely as Luis Suarez or John Terry attending Gospel singing on a Sunday morning. Allegedly. And this galls me. Because as I say, it is an iconic shirt. It SHOULD be regularly seen on match days, if for no other reason than to start a fans' debate as to who the greatest ever United number 7 was ..... No, only joking - that debate would never end! No, seriously, it galls me in that when talking of the traditional numbers 1-11 on a football field, the number 7 was usually worn by a right winger. Not by someone who at best is sitting on the bench. And whilst not all the United players mentioned above conform to the stereotypical right wing position on the field (but hey when did Eric in

particular, and Robbo less so, confirm to ANY stereotyping?), it just so happens that United at the moment are blessed with two players who when fit are almost guaranteed starters. And hey, what do you know, they both have a penchant for attacking down the right side! I refer to Nani and Antonio Valencia of course. Currently numbers 17 and 26 respectively at United. And both in my opinion who are worthy of joining the illustrious list of previous wearers of the number 7 shirt. My preference of the two to assume the number 7 shirt if and when it becomes available would be Valencia. Before his unfortunate injury against Ajax he was churning out stellar performances on a regular basis. Hugging the touchline, regularly whipping in crosses from the goal line, he was our most potent creator on a consistent basis and was proving to be the epitome of direct wing play at its best. A joy to behold, and a firm fans favourite. Surely deserving of a shirt number more in keeping with his role in the side? Time will tell of course. But the bottom line is that this particular fan wants to see the number 7 United shirt adorning the field on a regular basis again. With the magnificent legacy attached to it, that has to be right, yes?

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THE DAY THAT... The fairy-tale of... Dwight Yorke In our monthly feature one member of the writing team reminisces about a day in United’s history that was important to them. Up today is Brett... As gunshots rang out and ricocheted across Villa Park, a figure with his pants around his ankles, identified only by THAT smile, waddled clumsily into the back of the waiting getaway car. The tyres screeched away as £12.6 million spilled from the inside of the cab and was hurriedly gathered by the bumbling villa-gers, and thus setting in motion one of the single most incredible achievements in English footballing history. Dwight Yorke was now a Manchester United player, the fee in old money would have represented a lot more nowadays, had the economic downturn not belittled our

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currency and deflated the value of the pound to something equivalent to hamster cage liner, and he was considered a bit of a gamble. The rest of this introductory paragraph is no more real than the stuff you read in the tabloids, but has nothing on the real story that followed. It was the beginning of the 1998-99 season and a protracted metaphorical cloud hung just above the interminable literal clouds over Manchester. Before organised religions had rubber stamped their dogma all over the worship of celestial bodies, it was generally

considered that the Sun was God: the life-giver, the energy source for all of nature's wonders. In May 1997 Manchester United FC had been plunged into darkness, and stripped of its biology, by the retirement of one of its chief deities. The following season, bereft of their omnipotent one, they were now also without the accustomed omnipresence of silverware. A bit much? It's titled a fairytale, go with it. Towards the end of the previous season, the fledglings were becoming more than capable of fending for themselves. The introduction of Jaap Stam had potentially shored up a defence that had, in previous seasons, begun to creak under the weight of its combined catheters. If only there was an adequate clichéd analogy to describe how there was a missing piece - like when you're trying to complete a puzzle, say, a jigsaw - then I could use it to describe how we were lacking something up front.

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Andy Cole *blah blah Andrew Cole arf arf* was filling part of the hole left by Eric in his own inimitable style. At times he was Laurel or Hardy, the weight of expectation was a piano and the journey towards success was a set of wooden stairs. Having arrived from Newcastle a few years previously with the reputation of a bright star, we had come to realise on closer inspection, as the Universe dictates, that stars shine brightest when they are on the verge of collapse. Andy Cole had got to work trying to prove the faith SAF had shown in him was misplaced and was rewarded when United attempted to offload him in exchange for Alan 'Alan Shearer' Shearer. It

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wasn't until he'd had his legs removed by Neil Ruddock and sewn back on the right way round by our Franken-Scientists that he'd started to look remotely like the player we thought we'd bought. With this, he still managed to cut a lonely figure at times. Teddy Sheringham had arrived from Spurs with the more pointed intention of stepping into the physical and emotional vacuum created by the departing Eric. Although there were parallels in their playing styles, it wasn't as simple as replacing the irreplaceable with what you perceive might work as a replacement, hence the term, innit. When

not initially aggravating Roy Keane with every sinew of his being, Teddy spent most of his time stamping his feet and generally harrumphing in the direction of Andy Cole. The much maligned rift between them was a point of weakness within the squad. Hatred, or a strong dislike, is always the externalisation of the negative traits within the hater and rarely a genuine fault of the hated it is directed towards. The more the animosity between the two grew, the weaker the team would become as a result (despite their view to the contrary that they just, "got on with it"). Solskjaer, the child-dialled

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terrorist (the marketing team were still at the drawing board, brainstorming his nickname), had arrived the year before Tedward and was busy working away behind the scenes developing his support act, and creating a range of crocheted cushions for protecting what was to become the most hardwearing posterior for the most celebrated bench warmer the Premier League would ever see. Teddy Sheringham needed a distraction from his burgeoning hatred of Andy Cole, Andy Cole needed love. Solskjaer needed just one more nudge down the pecking order and the team needed a lift. I'm not suggesting that the players were emotionally retarded before the arrival of Dwight Yorke, or that they weren't capable of great things, but with the bastions of the drinking culture long gone, everything had got a bit pasta and fish, a bit, bed before 9pm, a bit well ... serious. One of the enduring aspects of Dwight Yorke's presence in the squad was how his infectious positivity appeared to rub off on those around him. None more so than Andy Cole. I don't think anyone noticed, because it certainly hasn't been mentioned enough already, but Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole

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formed a partnership and it was good. It didn't have defenders cowering at the thought of them, as the hyperbole may have you believe, but when it worked it was a thing of beauty. The step-over combination with the one-two, their trademark if you will, was, if you'll pardon the excuse to crowbar in the title that is barely being referred to at all, the stuff of fairytales. The thing is, Dwight Yorke was an extremely gifted footballer and probably because of his late development, never really afforded the respect for that, that he may have deserved. You don't need me to regale you with stories of how the season turned out, just put 'Manchester United Treble' into Google and knock yourself out. Somewhat unfortunately, with regards to his lasting legacy at the club, he also brought with him the very thing SAF was constantly battling to keep at spitting distance: the paps. It's the

salacious gossip that is attached with a permanent asterix alongside the mention of Dwight Yorke's name that will more than likely consign the memory of his United career to the box-file titled 'Characters' (as if such a thing exists). He is ultimately much more than that. In my eyes he was the catalyst for something that we are very privileged to have witnessed as fans of Manchester United. The day Dwight Yorke signed was just a day when a footballer wrote his name on a bit of paper, in the same way he would have practised since he was child. The day and event of him partaking in that act, in itself then, is actually quite mundane - not something you would have set the video up for. The events that transpired as a direct consequence are far more befitting of the title I started with.

Brett Burgers

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


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ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


DOWN TO THE WIRE

As we look forward to the conclusion of this season’s title race both Manchester clubs look set to take it to the wire in their bids for Premier League glory. Jack Harvey has looked at some of United’s most exciting title races from the past.

1994-95 March - May fixtures Opponent Score Position Ipswich

9-0 W

2nd

Wimbledon 1-0 W

1st

Spurs

0-0 D

2nd

Liverpool

0-2 L

2nd

Arsenal

3-0 W

2nd

Leeds

0-0 D

2nd

Leicester

4-0 W

2nd

Chelsea

0-0 D

2nd

Coventry

3-2 W

2nd

Sheff Weds 1-0 W

2nd

Soton

2-1 W

2nd

West Ham

1-1 D

2nd

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Background The careers of the two Scots, Alex Ferguson & Kenny Dalglish, have crossed paths on many occasions over the last forty years, not least when Manchester United and Blackburn were battling for the Premier League title in 1995. The Red Devils had been crowned champions in the first two Premier League seasons, and were looking for a hat-trick of title victories, but Blackburn proved tough challengers. Rovers‟ owner Jack Walker‟s money had seen the arrivals of Alan Shearer and Tim Sherwood among others, and now had Dalglish at the helm. Ferguson‟s side beat Blackburn in both head-to-head fixtures, but were dealt a blow when Eric Cantona was suspended for eight months following an altercation with a Crystal Palace supporter.

What it meant United squandered numerous opportunities at Upton Park on the final day of the season and the title went to Ewood Park. To add insult to injury, United went on to lose the FA Cup final six days later, leaving them trophyless for the first time since 1989. Controversially at the time, Sir Alex decided to dispose of Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis in the summer of 1995 and made way for Fergie‟s Fledglings.

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1998-99 March - May fixtures Opponent Score Position Newcastle

2-1 W

1st

Everton

3-1 W

1st

Wimbledon

1-1 D

1st

Sheff Wed

3-0 W

1st

Leeds

1-1 D

2nd

Villa

2-1 W

2nd

Liverpool

2-2 D

2nd

„Boro

1-0 W

1st

Blackburn

0-0 D

1st

Spurs

2-1 W

1st

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Background After missing out on the title in 1997/98, Sir Alex rung the changes over the summer. Veterans Brian McClair and Gary Pallister left the club, and were replaced by £10.75M defender Jaap Stam and Dwight Yorke, who went on to enjoy a prolific partnership with Andy Cole in United‟s attack. Ferguson was determined to reclaim the title from Arsenal, who had won the league and cup double in 1998 under new manager Arsene Wenger. The season ended much better than it started - losing 3-0 in the Charity Shield to the Gunners before drawing their first two league games with Leicester and West Ham. Ferguson‟s side began to click into gear though and as the season went on, you got the feeling something special would occur. As Ferguson said of his team - “they just never give in”, and this was epitomized by the number of last-minute winners they scored.

What it meant Involvement in the Premier league, FA Cup and Champions League saw a hug fixture pile-up for United, having to play all of their last five league games in the space of 15 days. It came down to the last day of the season, and despite going a goal down to Spurs, they typically fought back to earn a 2-1 win courtesy of goals from David Beckham and Andy Cole. It ended up being one of the best seasons in Manchester United‟s history, as they won an unprecedented treble, culminating in a dramatic comeback against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

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2001-02 Background Following on from the Treble in 1999, Manchester United lifted the Premier League title in both the 1999/00 season and 2000/01 season, and in the latter year finished ten points ahead of nearest challengers Arsenal. The Gunners would come back stronger this year though, looking to prevent United from becoming the first English club to win four successive league titles. This was at the height of the rivalry between the two clubs - the midfield battle between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira the perfect example of how much these two sides disliked each other. In terms of transfers, the biggest shock of all was the departure of Jaap Stam to Lazio, a decision Sir Alex later admitted that he regretted. Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastien Veron and Laurent Blanc were the players to join the club. The Reds were rocked by Sir Alexâ€&#x;s intention to retire at the end of the season, though he later reversed his decision.

What it meant March - May fixtures Opponent

Score Position

Derby

2-2 D

2nd

Spurs

4-0 W

2nd

West Ham

5-3 W

2nd

„Boro

0-1 L

2nd

Leeds

4-3 W

2nd

Leicester

1-0 W

2nd

Chelsea

3-0 W

2nd

Ipswich

1-0 W

2nd

Arsenal

0-1 L

3rd

Charlton

0-0 D

3rd

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In the end, Manchester United were never really in the title race. While they sat 2nd for most of the run-in, Arsenal would have had to experience an almighty collapse to allow the Reds back in. It was mainly due to a poor run from October to early December, in which United lost five out of seven league games. Arsene Wenger celebrated his second league title in England, and to make matters worse, they secured the title in a 10 win at Old Trafford thanks to a Sylvain Wiltord goal. There was a clear-out in the summer of 2002, with Denis Irwin, Ronny Johnsen, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole leaving the club.

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


2007-08

March - May fixtures

Background

Opponent

After going three years without winning the Premier League, Manchester United finally broke Chelsea’s spell of dominance in the 2006-07 season, and were now looking to reaffirm their status as the country’s number one club. They started the season without Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who retired in the summer, and brought in two midfielders from Portugal - Nani and Anderson. Early in the season, title rivals Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho and appointed Avram Grant, a decision received positively around Old Trafford. United actually made one of the worst starts in their history, picking up just one point from their opening three games (Reading, Portsmouth & Manchester City). But when “squeaky bum time” came about, United were as good as ever.

Score Position

Fulham

3-0 W

2nd

Derby

1-0 W

1st

Bolton

2-0 W

1st

Liverpool

3-0 W

1st

Villa

4-0 W

1st

„Boro

2-2 D

1st

Arsenal

2-1 W

1st

Blackburn

1-1 D

1st

Chelsea

1-2 L

1st

West Ham

4-1 W

1st

Wigan

2-1 W

1st

What it meant It meant that United won their 17th league title, putting them one behind Liverpool’s record of 18, and lifting their tenth Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson. The season would be remembered by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 42 goals in all competitions, and also for lifting the Champions League after defeating Chelsea on penalties. It could have been a treble, but the Reds were defeated at home by Portsmouth in the FA Cup quarter final.

37

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


Background A familiar story - akin to that of the challenge of Blackburn in the mid 90s and the threat of Chelsea this decade - a wealthy owner ploughs hundreds of millions into a football club and they become title contenders. This time though, it’s United’s local rivals Manchester City. Sheikh Mansour bought City in 2008 and now, just three years later, they are the favourites for the Premier League title. Up to now, the Red Devils have done well, staying close to City despite a never-ending string of injuries. They do however still have to go away from home to Manchester City and Spurs, the sides who occupy the other places in the top three.

What it could mean Out of the FA Cup and Champions League, the Premier League is the only big trophy on offer for United this season. If they do manage to pip City to the title, it would have to be considered a successful season. If they don’t manage it, Sir Alex will simply look at what went wrong and then seek to address it. It has to be remembered that this is a side in transition, and if you look at Chelsea and Arsenal, it’s a credit to United that they’re still challenging.

38

2011-12 March - May fixtures Opponent

Score Position

Spurs

3-1 W

2nd

West Brom

?

?

Wolves

?

?

Fulham

?

?

Blackburn

?

?

QPR

?

?

Wigan

?

?

Villa

?

?

Everton

?

?

City

?

?

Swansea

?

?

Sunderland

?

?

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


Do you collect United programmes & memorabilia?

Then why not join the Manchester United Collectors Club? You will receive six, 20 page newsletters per year covering every type of memorabilia. For further details send a SAE to: IAIN MCCARTNEY, 7 CARTHA ROAD, LOCHVALE, DUMFRIES DG1 4JB or email: itmccartney@btinternet.com

39

WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADVERTISE INSIDE THIS FANZINE? Email: Editor.fub@live.co.uk Or click here for more information. Offering the best rates for your products and tailor made packages to link with the website.

ISSUE 13, MARCH 2012


Thank you for taking the time to read Issue 13 of Football United Fanzine.

40

13, MARCH Issue 14 is out on ThursdayISSUE 5th March 2012 2012

Football United Fanzine Issue 13 - Manchester United's premier online magazine  

Football United Fanzine is back with its 13th offering. Manchester United's first exclusively online magazine is written by United fans for...

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