“I’d also like to remind you that when we had bad times here the club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me – your job now is to stand by our new manager.” These were the famous words of the greatest British manager to have ever lived, Sir Alex Ferguson, during his farewell speech as the manager of Manchester United. The club he had taken from the ruins of mediocrity of mid table finishes to the top of the perch, and in the process, made it the biggest name in the world of football.
Our new manager in question was a certain David Moyes. I had almost cried when the news was made official, not because Sir Alex was leaving United, oh no, I had prepared myself for that a long time ago, but he was followed by the quintessence of mediocrity, David Moyes, whose greatest achievement in football was taking Everton almost to the Champions league. However, against my better judgment, I decided to give Moyes a fair chance. It made sense as Sir Alex himself had chosen Moyes to be his successor and who am I to question his decision?
And so it began, the worst year as a Manchester United supporter. We were annihilated by our rivals, beaten at home by the teams that never dared think of beating us, and had broken all the wrong records there were to be broken. To top it all, we were playing the most boring football I have seen United play. One day I saw the paint dry on the walls of my building and it was more entertaining than watching United play. But the worst part was the never say die attitude that was part of the DNA of this club was gone. It almost felt like I was watching a different team.
Ironically, all I wanted to do was watch United play. Although they were struggling and playing this drab brand of football, I would stay awake late in the night to watch them struggle. In a morbid way I was actually enjoying the struggle as it made me felt more close to the club. It’s very easy to support your club when things are going well but your club needs you the most when things are not. Having said that, things were so bad for Moyes even his own players were avoiding him as you can see here
In all this, one thing was clear, Moyes had to go. If I had any doubts on that, they all evaporated in the second leg game against Bayern Munich in the Champions league. United took the lead but were pegged back by two quick goals from Bayern. At this point, United needed a goal and they would have qualified for the next round but what I saw made me ripped my hair in anguish and break my TV set. My manager sat there at the dug-out looking scared, clueless and completely out of his depth even when there was a very good chance of winning the tie.
What that defeat to Bayern did was close the door on our best chance of qualifying for the Champions league. And when it became mathematically impossible for United to qualify the Champions league via league position, Moyes got the sack despite our rival managers’ best efforts.
Things got better instantly. United won their first match emphatically under the interim manager Ryan Giggs and Liverpool all but lost the title thanks to that infamous slip from Steven Gerrard.
The following summer, United appointed Louis Van Gaal as their new manager and I was thrilled about the appointment. LVG has had a big influence on how the modern football is played and had a pedigree of transforming the clubs into the powerhouses. Despite spending big in the summer, United’s start of the season was abysmal, in fact, it was our worst start in some 30 odd years. But you could see LVG was trying to change things and more importantly the team was trying again on the pitch.
United’s fortune improved as the season went on with us winning ugly, another hallmark of Fergie’s era. One of the main reasons United were able to grind up results was due to David De Gea, First of his name,Lord of the Post,Warden of Old Trafford,Protector of the Goal,Hand of the Gaal . United played bits of exciting football during matches but were not able to sustain it throughout the game. Then came the crucial phase of the season, United were knocked out of the FA cup by Arsenal, and had to play Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City in quick succession with our Champions league hopes hinging on these matches. And when it mattered the most things started to click for us. We swept aside Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City with consummate ease. All the hard work of the season started to pay off. The Manchester United I knew and loved had finally arrived.
We achieved our goal of qualifying for the Champions league. There is a round of matches to be played in August but we have given ourselves an excellent chance to be in the Champions league, the competition where United fans feel we belong. The fourth place finish has also given United a leverage to attract the big names during transfer season and compete for the title next season. More importantly, it has given hope to United fans all across the world that things are moving in the right direction for the first time since Fergie left.