So I was enjoying a Monday morning lurk over on Red Café, right, and in amongst all the general furore over who refused to shake whose hand, and who refused to acknowledge that who had refused to shake whose hand before finally being forced to apologise – you know, all that bleeding carry on – I overheard these lads debating the performance of experienced veteran stalwart Ryan Giggs. “Giggsy was shite,” stated one Badunk matter-of-factly. “Should’ve subbed him. I bet his pass completion percentage was pretty low. Luckily, Johnson and Kuyt did nothing in the second half and it didn’t cost us.”
“He wasn’t that bad,” intervened prateik, clearly an authority on these matters with 16,523 posts under his belt. “Wasn’t at his creative best either. But he was playing on the wing and not central. He doesn’t have the pace to destroy full backs. He was alright.” Sir A1ex, presumably not Ferguson himself, then flashed a badge revealing him to be the author of some 19,640 posts, at which everyone else immediately dropped what they were doing or saying to gather round at immerse themselves in his wisdom. Finally, he spoke:
“Too many misplaced passes from Giggs, but his all round play was good.”
After lapping up the dregs of my double espresso, I left Red Café and hotfooted it down to ManUtdTalk, where folks were buzzing over the performance of young Johnny Evans at centre-half. “The reason we look like we haven’t vastly missed Vidic (at least to some extent),” surmised Burns92, “is because of Evans showing up this season.”
“Very well played Jonny,” concurred erics collar, seemingly in good spirits despite recently having his apostrophe amputated. “You were excellent yesterday. Who was the idiot who started a thread titled ‘Jonny Evans should never play for the club again’ after the City game? An apology is due.” No-one ‘fessed up, but that might have been because JustTooClever23 was off on one of his rambling soliloquies:
“The first time I ever saw him was against Chelsea at the Bridge in 08/09 after he’d returned from Sunderland. Was amazed at his composure and maturity in such a huge game and continued to be impressed until mistakes and inconsistency started to creep in over the last couple of seasons, and I’ll admit that I lost almost all faith in him after the City game.
“TBF, he’s always been quite solid whenever he’s been called upon this season, but it wasn’t until yesterday that he truly stood out again. He was absolutely immense at the back, probably the best performance he’s ever had for us. Even so, I just can’t see him ever being a first-11 centre-half if all our defenders are fit, especially with beasts Smalling and Jones there. Still, pretty much as good an injury stand-in as there is in the PL at his position.”
Once he’d finally stopped talking, someone coughed and one-by-one everyone came to, mumbling assent out of politeness.
Of course, it would have been remiss of me not to stop by the Republik of Mancunia to collate some choice praise for United’s midfield, given how much stick they were taking just weeks ago. For one, fletchabey saw fit to say:
“I’ve ranted and raved many a time about Carrick and Scholes being a sub par partnership. Yet since he’s been back they’ve been great together. Maybe it was the time where Carrick was undoubted main man at the club for midfield, maybe the long break has helped Scholes’s ‘ageing’ body a bit. Still they are playing good stuff and Carrick still plays as well as any other time without deferring, he continues to dictate play himself. At the very least it means we don’t need to rush Cleverley back, which is a good thing.”
By this point, I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves: what did bestie_onelove_utd think about the Red Devils’ midfield performance in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool? Well:
“Carrick was brilliant. Not because of the expected ‘great passing display’, as he was a bit lax at times, but because he was throwing himself into blocks, covering back superbly, and generally getting more stuck in than usual to great effect. Pleased to see it, and I’m hoping he twigs he is allowed to win the ball rather than wait and intercept it. Scholesy beside him ran the show. The Scum gave him far too much space and Paul said, to quote Paddy Crerand, “Thank you very much!” Cannot wait for Clevs and Scholes to play alongside each other.”
So there you have it, chaps.
Over at the grand old RAWK (Red and White Kop) forum, folks are still unwavering in their support of controversial (to say the least) Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, even after his refusal to shake the outstretched hand of Patrice Evra. “We moan about not having talented players who show emotion,” posited Stretch Armstrong, “we get one then question if he’s a loose cannon. He’s treated like a racist shit by all quarters and unhappy about it, support him or don’t but realise he’s not a loose cannon but a human being with feelings. So disrespectful to the man, this isn’t about football but a man that has been labelled a racist in front of a kangaroo court.”
Hazell made her stance absolutely clear: “Not shaking the hand of someone who he feels had made false accusations against him? If that’s the worst incident in his copybook since he’s arrived here, then he’s not doing too badly.” But it was Red_Isle_Chap who perhaps delved into the whole affair with the most lateral thinking, emerging with the rather intriguing theory that Suarez knew all too well what he was doing:
“Make no bones about it, if Ferdinand hadn’t got in the way of that collision in the first couple of minutes, Evra would have had a straight red for a horrific tackle on Luis. Luis didn’t shake his hand because he knew that it would wind Evra and some of his teammates up, and it did. Just needed a more composed ball as Evra and Rio were taking each other out and we’d have been 1-0 up.
“To me, it really is that simple. Suarez is the biggest wum we’ve ever had, he does it to everyone he plays against, he tries to make them make mistakes by losing their concentration. That collision was between two idiots who were so desperate to get to him because he wound them up in the handshake they lost their composure in that instance.
“Luis Suarez is special, he’s a f***ing amazing player, everyone seems to hate him because he’s that f***ing good he regularly makes people look like f***ing mugs. Just so happens that the overlord of football in this country has seen to it that his lackeys hunt Luis down and try to ruin him.”
Sick of the appalling f***ing language, I made a beeline for The Liverpool Way, where £20m flop-thus-far Stewart Downing was Kop-ing (arf!) all sorts of flak. “We stank the place out all over the pitch,” admitted Redder Lurtz, “but Downing deserves special recognition for his services to utter sh*tness. I’m struggling to remember a more gutless performance from a Liverpool player against Man U. Downing can get f***ed after today. Useless, gutless, talentless waste of blood and organs.”
Harsh? Stevie B was more level-headed in his assessment, yet still damning: “You can’t blame Stuart Downing for wanting to play for Liverpool. However, there is no excuse for the decision that was made to spend £16m(?) on him after years of evidence, in front of our eyes, that he was, at best, average. A fee of £16m should bring someone who can win matches with it. Downing has never been that player.
“Having said that, none of us want a Liverpool player to fail. I hope I’m eating my words in a couple of seasons. If he makes it that far.”
Finally, isn’t it strange how supporter opinion can be so drastically different from forum to forum? Have a butcher’s at Kop Talk and contrast it with RAWK. Here’s a sample quote from LiamH:
“Suarez didn’t even look at Evra, he had absolutely no intention of shaking his hand. NONE of us want to talk bad about our players, but at the end of the day he’s representing our football club. He needed to be the bigger man. As soon as I saw that today my heart sank, because I knew what the repercussions were going to be.
“We are famous for the support we give our players, and we have given him nothing but support, but he needs to prove now he’s worthy of our support. He’s not going to do that by acting like a petulant child, and dragging our name down further in the eyes of the media which other supporters of other teams will hold onto also.
“He has let himself and us down, and especially Kenny, who assured everyone that Suarez would shake Evra’s hand. What was Kenny supposed to say to the media after that? He couldn’t even talk about it.”
Having said that, Wicksy84 had this to say:
“What the f**k don’t remember all this when bridge refused terrys handshake or when qpr and chelsea didn’t have one at all you are all being drawn in to the media witch hunt get a grip suarez can do whatever he wants he feels evra lied and he may well off and has tarnished suarezs whole career and life he will never live this racism bullshite down so he done nothing wrong if he would have slapped evra I would understand it but you are all turning on your own player because fergie and the media have made it fashionable to make suarez a scapegoat for something they have no evidence he has done against a man who caused a revolt for his own national team and wrongly accused someone else of racism but all of a sudden because suarez doesn’t shake his hand he has ruined our club you lot need your f**king heads shaken wake the [oops] up and stop following like [oops] sheep pathetic grow some balls and think for yourselves”
I started trying to punctuate that properly but gave up about a third of the way through. Despairing at the flagrant disregard for proper grammar and sentence structure, I made my excuses and slipped off into the night.
It was still the daytime, but slipping off into the day doesn’t quite have that ‘Deep Throat’ sort of quality about it.
Stop laughing at the back.