Whilst the 2012/13 season at one stage might have been suspiciously eyed as an on-going duller affair than usual fare; consider this. In just a 55 week spell we had a league all but won, tossed it aside only for it to fall into our laps with seconds of the 2011/12 season remaining, only then for THAT to happen and it to slip through our fingers again in such brutal fashion. To then see United reflate a frayed United consciousness with the RVP signing, bounce back immediately and reclaim what is usually ours. And then see it almost all trumped with a final cliff hanging page turner of Fergie’s departure and brief farewell tour that if not a naturally happy conclusion to that particular startling chapter, as we tried to digest events with a stunned take, then played out as well as it could.
There was never going to be a perfect time for Alex Ferguson to call it a day, only the wrong time for it to be that day. As we came to terms with it all, it felt about as right as it would ever be.
And that’s a dull season?!
Little did we realise when Ashley Young went to ground with all that controversy on April 8th 2012 in a 2-0 home win over QPR that over the next few weeks that very earth we trusted with a healthy lead would swallow us up. But if the 20th title hasn’t erased the scars of them stepping into our breach, it’s done a very good version of laser surgery. One year folks, one year.
You take many things for granted with life under Fergie, not least his team’s ability to bounce back. No humble pie needed this time as Reds didn’t doubt, and on the whole remained steadfast, but such a convincing lead pretty much all season and then title triumph with games to go is still an incredible feat and achievement after all that happened and the scars it could have left on a young, and emerging side. They deserve their due.
As David Gill offered Robin Van Persie an ultimatum in early August 2012 that he should nail his colours to the mast of only wanting to join the good ship MUFC, to which we’d then step in with a still healthy bid on a last remaining year of contract, not only did the little boy inside RVP start screaming, it pretty much did in all of those of us who hoped he’d be an Eric like catalyst. Some scoffed, particularly outside of Old Trafford, but whereas the debate as to why Dimitar Berbatov didn’t (or did) reach his natural heights in a United shirt lingers, some people just seize their moment. Van Persie didn’t just do that – with stunning results and goals – but he bought into the United ethos of team over individual; even during the early season when he alone seemed to be on form, every game.
There were subplots – Wayne Rooney’s form, inconsistency and then pram rattling – and at times an unease that United’s form was more efficient than exhilarating, but we still had our dramas (last minute at the Boo Camp, Newcastle at home) and saw several players then feel their groove and jazz with it. Nice! Michael Carrick finally convinced his doubters (where have you been…), and as Rafael ironed out immaturity to show consistent class, United fans didn’t raise eye brows over David De Gea’s form; we’d known it all along. Rio purred like a well-oiled engine, with Jonny Evans’ younger model not far behind. We played without wingers, it raised eyebrows, but results continued.
Hindsight gives us the time to realise the context of Alex Ferguson’s emotional reaction to the Real Madrid elimination, yet even with the inevitability that his day was bound to come eventually, still, we all pretty much felt surprise, and that stunned double take when it came and puts its arm around us to console. That this season was to be his last will cloud the memories of it as a whole, but let us know this, even when some may think it’s been dull, with United, it never is. We, rightly or wrongly, just have incredibly high expectations. (and who is that down to…!).
The ABUs will look on hoping that this now is the chink in our armour that they have been waiting and hoping for. We know that a league recovery such as this from such a young squad leaves his club in safe hands for the new era when it is no longer his to be considered. Stability has been chosen, patience hoped for, the next era one to be excited about and yes a little fearful of.
What is great about Scott’s efforts with RoM is it gives an immediacy and reaction to the events unfolding. ROM goes toe to toe with ABUs if they offer their myths too but also records the ongoing remarkable events at our club where nothing is familiar and we are always the next story. This season, one where it was to get job done, whatever way it took, will be remembered now for all its drama, those RvP (Upton Park, that touch, at home to Villa, and THAT touch) moments, and then of course its stunning epilogue.
One then that has been worthy to record. And is done so here in such a stylish fashion. Enjoy then.
Because we all have.
Buy Not Nineteen Forever on Amazon – the best articles and match reports from RoM which document the 2012/2013 season, as well as many previously unpublished articles.
Barney is the editor of Red News fanzine. Follow him on Twitter.
The RoM 2017-18 Season Preview is available for just £5. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Paul Scholes, a Q&A with the country's top journalists about our transfer targets, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.