‘I feel close to the rebelliousness and vigour of the youth here. Perhaps time will separate us, but nobody can deny that here, behind the windows of Manchester, there is an insane love of football, of celebration and of music.’
With the end of football season 2012-2013, Manchester United had won the English Premier league with quite a margin. However, after facing defeat from Real Madrid in spite of giving a better performance, they could not play further in UEFA Champions League. By the end of the season, Sir Alex Ferguson announced the confirmation of his retirement. The man who had been handling this team for the past 26 years was no more going to be its manager. The fans had turned silent. People couldn’t believe. The fact is that Sir Alex Ferguson had been the manager of this club for so long, people never thought he would ever end up retiring from his job. But that never had to happen. The new manager had not been chosen and the fate of Manchester United lay in whose hands; no one knew. And with this, Paul Scholes and chief executive David Gill retired as well.
Right after the season ended, a new manager was chosen. The choice was between Dortmund’s Klopp, Everton’s David Moyes, Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho and ex-United player Ole Gunner Solskjaer. Even Eric Cantona and Gary Neville were considered for managing the club. In the end, David Moyes was chosen as the manager. He had a very good record with Everton. He had managed the club with a very tight budget and Everton always finished in the top 12 of the EPL table. Besides, he was Scottish; just like Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Matt Busby. The pre-season tour was not very good. Manchester United either lost or drew with the opposition teams. But the team won the Community Shield which was David Moyes’s very first trophy with this club. The transfer window had been open for a long time, but David Moyes and Woodward did not end up buying even a single player. When the transfer window was about to close, on the very last day, Everton’s Fellaini was bought in 27.5 million Euros, hoping he would be able to provide as a good midfielder to United’s team.
February 5th, 1958. The world had not anticipated the Munich disaster. Manchester United team after defeating Red Star Belgrade on aggregate were returning to Manchester. Their airplane stopped for refueling in Munich and it crashed on its third attempt to becoming airborne. Eight out of seventeen players lost their lives. And 2 of the surviving ones quit playing football. The whole team was destructed and this was one of most tragic incidents in the world of sports ever. But the Comeback Kings surmounted that phase and a new team was made. Jimmy Murphy played a crucial role in the rebuilding of United and by 1964, a new team was ready.
The start of the football season was pretty bad for Manchester United. Many of the players suffered from injuries, and the team hardly won matches. Small teams, which were nowhere near United’s squad could easily come and defeat them at Old Trafford. Initially, the defense of United was weak, making more chances for the opposition team’s attack. But with time, the defense got back to the way it was. In September, October and November, United lost almost 90% of the matches that they played and that led them to 9th position in the Premier League table. Fellaini, Micheal Carrick, Robin Van Persie and Kagawa got injured and that was one of the major reasons for United’s downfall. Ashley Young, Cleverly and Anderson performed badly and they were highly criticized. The blame came on Moyes who was accused of lacking tactics with which Sir Alex Ferguson handled the team. Twitter Feeds and Facebook statuses were loaded with #MoyesOut hashtags and people had started losing faith in ‘The Champions’. Even fans at Old Trafford who are widely known for their loyalty towards the club were seen to be exiting the stadium before the referee could blow his final whistle.
“The manager may have changed, but the old resilience is still there”
But, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. By the end of November and start of December, Manchester United has started gaining momentum again. Danny Welbeck has started scoring consistently. Ashley Young’s performance has turned a full circle and United’s midfielder Darren Fletcher who had been injured for a very long time, has come back. 17 year old Adnan Januzaj has turned everything around with his goals and his amazing performance. With the Boxing Day fixture, United’s unsung hero Micheal Carrick has also come back to the squad and things are back in place. Manchester United who are known as the ‘Comeback Kings’ proved the worth of this name once again. Amidst all these wins and losses, one man stays strong. Wayne Rooney, United’s forward has given an excellent performance this season. He has come back to life and has been a goal scoring machine. In spite of the rumors of him quitting the club, he is actually the leader of United at this time. Not just attack, he has handled the midfield in Carrick’s absence, played a major role in the defense. He’s everywhere on the pitch, making sure his team wins the game. Speculations are that Wayne Rooney could actually end up becoming the captain of Manchester United.
‘To have any chance against them, you have to play well on the day and that’s all we can hope for. You would never write off Man United. Just because they’ve changed their manager doesn’t mean that mentality’s going to go away. It’s engrained in them.’
The second half of the season is about to start and United has always been famous for hitting back hard in the second half. The main squad is back and players have overcome their injuries. Moyes has finally figured out how to control the team and people’s faith in him is restoring back to place. United has surprisingly remained unbeaten in UEFA Champions League. They have been placed with Olympiakos in the quarter finals and hopefully, they will be able to defeat them. Kagawa though, has still not been used properly. In one of the UCL fixtures, Kagawa was used as a playmaker and he gave a new dimension to the game. Kagawa ought to be used as a trequartista and it should be made sure that he doesn’t leave the club.
Manchester United are the true comeback kings of football. When you hit them, they hit back harder. It’s in their blood and it will always remain to be. Till then, the Stretford End is is noisy as usual, the chants are getting louder, loyalty is in place and the Reds go marching on, on, on.