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- Alex Paylor -

Published: Dec 30th 98


As it looks as though he Red Devils Advocate has taken an extended sabbatical and it seems to have fallen to me to take up the strain and attempt to fill his well-heeled shoes. So, as the new year approaches, what do we have to look forward to?

A rather uncertain future it seems - but that's football for you! Why not start the ball rolling with a good old cliche! I hope Fartin got a new calculator in his Christmas stocking and then at least we should be able to keep Fergie and Roy happy by offering them new contracts more befitting of their status.

Fergie especially must feel that Fartin's taking the piss by only paying him £800,000 - not that I'd turn my nose up at that sort of sum, but then I don't manage an institution. Let's face it, if the one man who has done more to change the fortunes of our club in the last decade doesn't get as well rewarded as the top earner, he's surely got to be considering pastures new. I don't think it will come to that however, but you never know.

Maybe Fartin's keeping him on a low wage cos he knows that Fergie would buy him out and run the club himself if he had enough money - there's no love lost between the two that's for sure - not surprising really.

We've already lost Fergie's side-kick and you're not kidding me that he wouldn't have stayed had he been given certain assurances and a decent wage. On the one hand it pains me to see him so engrossed in the yonners but on the other I'm pleased for him that he is doing what he so desperately wanted to do, namely take control of the decision making. Brian Kidd is a good man and we'll miss him.

So, who will replace him? The short answer is no-one can replace him, but as that is a negative, I think we have to look to someone who has known the lads who are in the first team and those who are coming through. Someone who will command respect.

Steve Bruce is an obvious choice. But has he got the coaching credentials? Choccy would have been the one for me, but then he was allowed to leave in the summer when he should have been offered a role within the club. How anyone in their right mind could let someone as intelligent as McClair go is completely beyond me. The official magazine must have been severely miffed as Choccy's diary was the only decent thing in it.

I don't know if Bruce has the qualifications for the job or not but he sure has the respect of the lads and he was the only one who ever stood up to the daft Dane, so he obviously has the courage as well. In an ideal world I'd love to see a double appointment if we can't turn the clock back and reinstate Kiddo, and that's Bruce and Cantona.

Pie in the sky maybe, but doesn't it make your mouth water just thinking about it and wouldn't the t-shirt sellers be happy to have their main money maker back at the club. Bruce and Cantona - BC. I don't suppose it will ever happen but hold onto the dream for a few seconds and make yourselves smile. Eric wouldn't leave his cosy thespian world now would he, unless we can get to his son Raphael who still pines for Old Trafford - someone send him a new United shirt quick.

Coming back to the poorly paid and continuity theme - you don't catch a sort of trend here do you? A sort of mis-management trend? That someone at the top doesn't seem to value continuity? Maybe that someone has a problem with intelligence. Maybe that someone doesn't possess much themselves - it would certainly seem to be the case from where I'm sitting.

I wonder who that could be?

Maybe it's the PLC pulling the strings or maybe not, but if someone doesn't do something about it soon the Ferguson dynasty will end just as Sir Matt's did - rather too abruptly without much planning for the future succession.

After the Middlesborough debacle I don't suppose Jimmy Ryan will be offered the second in command post! He's been watching too many Peter Pan re-runs and is still under the spell of that tinker Tinkerbell. Fancy messing around with the team just as they were getting on top, I wonder where he picked that bad habit up from?

Talking of daft Danes, which we were a few sentences ago, it's a pity that Peter couldn't have kept his little secret hideaway in the south of France to himself and Fergie because it seems to have upset a few people. What other excuse for the poor defensive displays could there be!

How would you feel if you were playing in front of someone who you know is going to piss off at the end of the season to wile away the next few years in a warm climate and a cosy villa somewhere on the Cote D'Azure? You wouldn't like it would you?

Come on, be truthful now - while it's freezing bloody cold and the rain is lashing in your face and this great Danish pastry is spitting currants at you while you're thinking about the warmth of the Mediterranean sun he's going to be enjoying. You'd probably hate him wouldn't you?

If the truth be known, I think he's just got a little too fed up with all the red nose jibes and is going off in a huff to make sure he doesn't expose himself to the rigours of northern winters anymore. You watch, he'll be back one day playing for Monaco, all suntanned and chucking himself around the goalmouth like there's no tomorrow. Charging upfield for an injury time corner to score the winner which knocks us out of the Euro semi for yet another year - the bastard!!

To be serious for a minute, I think the sooner we get behind him and throw toilet rolls - sorry, I mean get behind him and give him some real support, the sooner he will get himself properly back together and hopefully have one last magnificent season for the Reds. Can you imagine a United team reaching the Euro Final in the Nou Camp without Schmeichel as our custodian on the last day of the season? Nor me.

Anyway, after the Chelsea game he will have surely silenced his critics. He's still the business for me and always will be - yet another of that 94 team who will be irreplaceable.

As far as the defence in front of the big daft sod is concerned, I'll be glad to see Ronnie permanently installed as partner to Stam. I thought the Stam-Neville partnership was going to work at first, but Nev seems to lack concentration at vital times which he may be able to get away with at right back but not in the heart of the defence. Pity he's not left footed as he could then play at left back where Dennis is showing the odd sign of 'career end' and then Wes could come in at right back.

Dennis is another who has served the club magnificently and his experience will also be sorely missed. He's been the best and most consistent full back I've seen at Old Trafford in 40 years of watching.

Wes shows the most promise of all for me. He's so assured even now, he learns very quickly and never gets ruffled. What a player he is going to be - another Paul McGrath. Let's hope he stays off the booze and his knees don't give way, or did McGrath's knees give way because of the booze? I saw him in the players lounge once and strangely enough he was the only one who was sitting down.

At least we've finished the year with two clean sheets which is more than can be said for Giggsy. Come on Ryan, concentrate more on the football mate and less on you know who. Let's face it though, the football hasn't been brilliant the last few games. The effort just hasn't been there - no wonder the crowd have found it difficult to get behind the lads - they have to try first and should not be content with playing for only twenty minutes a half.

It's frustrating when we know how well they can play when they make an effort. The team have the potential to be one of the very best to come out of Old Trafford, but they seem far too complacent to me.

So what are the Big Issues for 1999?

Stop selling magazines on street corners to help the homeless and start selling United shares instead, to stop the dirty digger getting his 75% and make sure we've still got a home in the year 2000.

Get rid of that puppet Fartin, buy back the club from the plc and let Fergie take us into the new millennium. And that's just for starters!

Some of my wishes for 1999 - let's hope it's a happy new year for the Reds.



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