There’s a new factor in play this season – something that can cheer you up, relieve the pain of a defeat, make things seem brighter in dark hours. It’s a beautiful thing, a gift from divine providence – the kind of phenomenon that can make you believe that there is some benign quality to whoever it is that’s running things in this crazy world. It only really applies to football so far – but maybe it’s the kind of thing we need to act more generally in a country suffering under the cosh of the coalition. But it’ll do for the moment – it’s certainly made me feel better. The name of this feel-good factor? It’s David Moyes’ Man U. What a wonderful Man U manager Moyes is making. Long may he reign. Today, his latest gift to me is a last-minute defeat at home to Swansea, knocking the media darlings out of the FA Cup – and a tasty red card into the bargain. Delicious.
I’m not being wise after the event here. I am on record as predicting that Moyes would not be able to carry off the Fergie act that brought Man U far more success than their various teams’ qualities merited. It looks very much as though I was right as a veritable dynasty – albeit one founded on fear and oppression – is fading away, and we can but hope it will be replaced by something more admirable. Yes, Arsenal, I mean YOU. But the main thing is that the Evil Empire appears to be on the wane. I thought that a failure to qualify for the Champions League was too much to hope for, but it looks as though even this may well be about to happen. And if it does – then the shift in power at the top of the game will be of seismic proportions.
For a Leeds fan, the current problems afflicting Man U come as balm in Gilead. For many years now, the state of our club has been a matter for concern and occasionally despair. The odd calamity for Man U came as an infrequent but welcome relief from this pain. Now – even at a time when disasters like Rochdale can happen, the comical collapse of the edifice Fergie built on foundations of threats and bullying, acts to cheer the soul of anyone with Leeds in their heart. It’s a tonic, it really is. At a time like this when the Leeds team is misfiring but there appear to be exciting developments off the field, this latest flop by the Pride of Devon has come like a ray of sunshine on a stormy day. Believe me, I’m not ungrateful.
There’s quite a lot of this season still to go, and it is of course possible that – with the help of the usual outside forces – Man U may yet struggle back and secure at least a top four place to save themselves from meltdown. And yet it’s difficult to see how even a return to form for the likes of Howard Webb can see them overhaul any of what are looking like the natural occupiers of those top four places, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. All look streets ahead of Man U so far – and below that fantastic four, there are the not inconsiderable merits of Spurs and Everton. Both of these latter two have won at the Theatre of Hollow Myths this season, and both would currently back themselves to finish above the ailing and seemingly plastic champions.
For a Leeds United fan such as myself, this was shaping up as a weekend to be crying into our beer and staying inside to sulk. Thank you Swansea for your help and what you’ve done to the myth today. Thank you Mr Moyes for essaying a Fergie-Lite style of management that appears to be working just as we anti-Dark Side sympathisers might wish. Most of all thanks to the Man U owners for such an enlightened appointment. Stick by Agent Moyes; hopefully he has much more to achieve yet in the dismantling of Man U.