The bewildered expression of David Moyes on the touchline this season has only been bettered by the death stare of Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United succumbed to another demoralising home defeat, this time at the hands of their oldest of rivals.
As United’s Premier League season has stumbled from one calamity to another the fans have stood firm in adversity. But the chanting of the Old Trafford stadium-goers as Luis Suarez netted Liverpool’s third, defiantly blasting out ’20 times’, did as much to remind people of the distance this team has fallen as it did of the club’s holy status.
As the fans have admirably supported their fallen heroes through the toughest of times, it begins to beg the question as to whether this kind of unwavering support is actually beneficial? The hierarchy of the club maintain that they will steadfastly stand by their manager, and despite intensifying utterances of discontent amongst social media users, the stadium-goers appear to be doing the same.
Fergie’s plea to the United fans after his final home game at Old Trafford was to ‘support the manager’. The United fans, lapping up every final word he spoke, have almost sycophantically followed orders.
But the club, the manager, and the players need to know that enough is enough. It’s all well and good standing by your manager because it’s ‘tradition’, but Fergie didn’t take over a Manchester United that were perennial winners. He took charge of a struggling side which hadn’t won the top division in 20 years.
Moyes leads the reigning champions, and like it or not, this team are proven winners. For all the talk of a dearth of quality in defence or in central midfield, the squad was only added to in the summer. He was given all the ingredients to the recipe of success. But instead of concocting a sumptuous cake, what he has produced is an inedible eggy mess.
The financial implications of missing out on Champions League football in today’s game are immense. United collected a staggering £30.5 million last season in getting eliminated in the round of 16 to Real Madrid. This is a club that doesn’t operate without European football and the revenue generated from it.
The financiers at the top of the tree won’t plan for life without it long-term. As Liverpool threaten to break back into Europe’s elite class and Arsenal exercise the kind of financial power they never have possessed before, not to mention the cash-rich Manchester City and Chelsea, United cannot afford to fall behind for long.
It’s time the Old Trafford support realised this. For all the talk of support, the team and the non-playing staff need to know what they’re currently producing is not enough. And a few boos wouldn’t go amiss. The current atmosphere almost gives the team the license to go and under-perform.
They play crap, ‘oh well, we still have the support of the fans’. Not good enough. The players need to be put under pressure, not just by the manager and his staff, but by the 70,000 fans that go and watch them week-in week-out.
Letting a 2-1 lead slip in the 90th minute to a team which are floundering at the foot of the table, after enjoying 75 per cent of possession and hopelessly slinging in 82 crosses, didn’t deserve applause and muted disappointment. And another record-breaking home defeat, this time to your bitterest rival, shouldn’t have received anything other than vehement discontent.
’Twenty times’ displays a club with a history of success, a club with the highest of standards, a club that doesn’t accept low-point after low-point, shambles after shambles, embarrassment after embarrassment.
But right now, ’20 times’ is making the club a laughing stock. The chant should emphasise greatness, but right now it just highlights weakness and grandiose delusions.
The fans haven’t paid to see such abysmal football in the history of the Premier League and the fans need to let the world know. Support your team through thick and thin, yes. But the Manchester United support shouldn’t accept this any longer. The team are betraying their faith, and they need to be more vociferous in their displeasure.