Ahead of the visit to St James’ Park of Champions Manchester United we caught up with Anthony Murphy, writer with the long-running and highly respected Old Trafford fanzine, United We Stand. This is the craic:
TF: At the start of the season, what were your expectations?
Anthony, UWS: I expected top four. Looking at United’s run in, I haven’t completely given up on it but obviously, it’s a long shot.
TF: Is it all down to Moyes?
Anthony, UWS: Absolutely not. He’s made mistakes but he hasn’t been helped by the attitude of some of the senior players at Old Trafford. some seem to have adopted the “You’re not my Dad’ attitude towards him. He has also inherited a declining side that had been managed brilliantly by his predecessor, ultimately, Sir Alex is to my eyes, at least equally culpable for this relatively poor season
TF: What was your view of the Moyes Out banner pulled by the plane last week?
Anthony, UWS, Contempt and disdain for the arseholes behind the idea. It was embarrassing. I can handle people wanting David Moyes to leave United but the whole stunt was abysmal. I was heartened by the Stretford Ends reaction to it.
TF: Is it fair to say, Man Utd are overly dependent upon Rooney?
Anthony, UWS: No, he’s a fabulous player obviously who scores important goals but i think the absence of Robin Van Persie at certain points this season have hurt United.
TF: You may now have the scenario of Man City and Liverpool going for the title. Who would be your least painful choice to win the league?
Anthony, UWS: Without a shadow of doubt I’d prefer City to win the title. I’m typing this whilst Liverpool are beating Tottenham 2-0 and I’m already feeling a dreadful nausea about the thought of the Scousers winning the title.
TF: For as long as I can remember, Man Utd have always been the dominant club in Manchester as Liverpool have been on Merseyside. That all seems to be changing now, with Man City winning trophies, buying the best players and playing great football. Do you foresee a time when Man Utd will lose their position as the most popularly supported club in Manchester?
Anthony, UWS: I’d be surprised if it happened anytime soon. since World War II, City have never had a higher average attendance than United, even during their glory era of the late 60’s early 70’s, they still struggled to sell the gaff out. City have a good core of loyal supporters but ultimately, the whole club aspires to be United. We look at them like an older sibling would look upon an annoying little brother.
TF: I heard a Man Utd fan outside Old Trafford tell a journalist that dismissing Moyes would be a decision made on financial grounds by the Glazers. Charlton and Ferguson (in public at least) are sticking by the man they appointed – do you think sacking Moyes could open up a rift between the “football club” as represented by Charlton/Ferguson and the business as represented by the Glazers?
Anthony, UWS: No, Sir Alex is far too canny a political operator to get embroiled in any fall out over Moyes potential dismissal. As for Sir Bobby, for all the respect that he undoubtedly commands, I’m not too sure what political clout he still has at Old Trafford. I think he has become a club figurehead in much the same way that Sir Matt became into his dotage.
TF: Were you as surprised as us at our first win at Old Trafford since the invention of the combustion engine this season?
Anthony, UWS: Not really, United had already lost at home to West Brom and Everton too, three days prior to the match against yourselves. United’s performance on the day against Newcastle was appalling and the match ended with the correct outcome.
TF: If you lot take any notice of the Newcastle United basket-case these days, what are your overall impressions of what is going on here?
Anthony, UWS: It veers from farce comedy to admiration for the fact that Newcastle can generally entice 50,000 on a regular basis. Newcastle are predictably unpredictable. At St James Park they are either unstoppable with a wave of Geordie fervour behind them or so bad as to be comical. Most recent example was Liverpool winning 6-0 there last season. I never go near Newcastle on a fixed odds
TF: Thanks for the copies of United We Stand, as ever a great fanzine – you appear to be going from strength to strength – what’s happening with UWS and more widely amongst the Man Utd independent scene?
Anthony, UWS: UWS has regular matchgoing United fans writing for them and also, covers aspects other than football which are still a major interest to reds. There’s columns on fashion, music and Mancunian history on a regular basis in the magazine which either resonates or interests the readers. On a broader level, the United fanzine scene is I believe untouched elsewhere. With UWS, Red Issue and Red News, we have three completely diverse fanzines with radically different styles of writing and all three are excellent in their own way
TF: Any prediction for Saturday?
Anthony, UWS: I’m the eternal optimist and I always go for a United win so I’ll say Newcastle 0-1 United
Many thanks to Anthony for his time. All the best.