rss twitter facebook mobile

Don’t Point The Finger At Us, Fergie! – Blame Fans, Players or Manager?

Stretford EndManchester United picked up all three points against Birmingham yesterday, Carlos Tevez finishing off a beautiful move. The goal was remnant of that scored against Middlesbrough earlier this season, with Rooney and Tevez linking up perfectly. However, despite our superior attempts on goal and possession, the 1-0 scoreline might appear worrying for United fans, and rightly so.

We showed flashes of brilliance, with Park, Ronaldo, Anderson, Tevez and Nani all showing why they play for the Champions. They plucked the ball from the air perfectly, played sweet passes and had great attempts on goal. However, none of our players were at their best, and with twenty minutes to go, looked as though we were already in injury time. At times, they were walking around with the ball, all looking far too excited when the subs board flashed up, then deflated upon realising they had to stay on the field. They looked bored, fed up, and the final whistle couldn’t come quickly enough for them. It was unnerving.

However, instead of looking to the players or looking to his tactics, for an explanation for such a lacklustre performance, Ferguson had a dig at the fans instead. “The crowd was dead,” he bemoaned. “That was the quietest I’ve heard our crowd. We need the supporters to create a good atmosphere here because the players respond to that. It’s all very well saying the players need to play to get the crowd going, for them to respond. But in situations like today we need the fans to get behind us. At times it was like a funeral. It was so quiet. I don’t think that helped us.”

Now, I’m not for one moment saying the Old Trafford crowd was as loud as it should have been, it never is! But for Ferguson to talk about us instead of the players infuriates me. How dare Ferguson publicly support the Glazers, who have driven so many of the hardcore fans away from Old Trafford, who raise ticket prices and increase the number of corporate seats at the ground, and then turn on the fans who do show up? He can’t have it both ways! He can’t support owners who are more concerned with customers and money than they are with loyalty and fans, and then criticise the support for the team.

I was just one fan out of the 75,459 fans lining Glazer’s pockets yesterday and I sang. I sang songs for United, I sang songs for Ole, Tevez, Ronaldo, Vidic, Park and Rooney, I sang songs for Ferguson, and of course I wasn’t alone. I ‘stood up for the Champions’, like we do every week, I waved my arms from left to right for Ronaldo, and I paid my money for the privilege.

Now, following our defeat to West Ham, where 1000s of United fans made the costly trip down to Upton Park four days after Christmas, the last thing Fergie wants to be doing is sticking it to the fans. Who was to blame for our spineless performance against West Ham? If the fans had cheered louder would our defence have been able to defend the two set pieces which cost us the points?

Regardless, if Old Trafford was unusually quiet against Birmingham, then maybe I’d see more sense behind Ferguson’s rant, however it has been far more quiet in the past. There was singing at Old Trafford, not as loud as it could or should be, but there was never silence, thanks to the Stretford End. Why is he picking this occasion, when the atmosphere wasn’t even that bad, to slag off the fans? The more cynical among us might think Fergie would be prepared to do anything to take the pressure off the players, who have massively underperformed over the past few weeks.

Birmingham are three points away from relegation and have picked up just seven points on the road so far this season. Why then were the fans of the Champions grumbling audibly when it was announced there were four minutes of injury time to play? “Four minutes?! Bloody ell! Where did they get that from??” Why were fans of the Champions whistling for the final two minutes of that allocated time? Surely the fact we were so nervous against such poor opposition says more about the football our team was playing than it does about our commitment to supporting our team?

With twenty games played last season, we’d picked up 53 points, losing one game against Arsenal, and drawing against Reading and Chelsea. We’re five points short off that this season. Over the past fortnight, we’ve seen less than inspiring performances from our team. I’m grateful of every single one of the points we’ve picked up, and getting a win at Anfield is far more important to me than watching an incredible game of football, but can Ferguson really blame us for getting a little agitated? After all, he is the man who has brought back such attractive and exciting football to Manchester United, building up a tradition over the past twenty years which we have enjoyed thoroughly, and feel entitled to crave and expect.

Our players looked bored yesterday, however, Ferguson expects us to rise above that. Ferguson expects us to work ourself up in to a frenzy despite our players looking desperate to get off the field. There are days when the crowd know what is needed of them, and our victory against Chelsea in 2005 is a perfect example of this. We sang from start to finish, knowing we were playing against a better side, undefeated in forty games and probably on their way to winning their second consecutive title. There are days when your team needs you, when whatever the standard of football is like, whoever is making mistakes, you need to get behind your team and urge them forward. I fully believe we made the difference that day against Chelsea and Ferguson was quick to call us the twelfth man then. But then, that was just a few days after 5,000 travelling fans booed us off the park after losing 1-0 to Lille in the Champions League.

Should Birmingham be a team that the players need the extra encouragement to beat? Should we beat singing loudly and passionately when our team can’t even be bothered to show up against relegation fodder? I think the fans feel more than happy to put up the fight and to put in the commitment when the players are willing to do the same. Had we been playing against Inter Milan yesterday and players needed that extra bit of edge to get an result, then fair play. But Birmingham?

I agree as much as the next red that something needs to be done about our home atmosphere, however, when I see the atmosphere of other Premiership sides, I feel there’s only one team or two that have any place to badmouth our fans. Diminishing atmospheres are prevalent in our league, with even the ‘mighty’ Liverpool with ‘the best fans’ in England failing to show up in their side’s demolition of Portsmouth at Anfield in the past fortnight. Even the Liverpool Echo couldn’t keep quiet on the topic, saying, “a wall of silence is no way to greet a 4-1 home win and there were times when the players’ shouts could be heard loud and clear because of the lack of noise. Anfield will soon resound only to the noise of away fans singing “Where’s your famous atmosphere?” I’m not for one moment suggesting that because Liverpool fans can’t cheer on a 4-1 victory that we should even allow ourselves to settle for the same in a dull 1-0 win, but merely pointing out the issue of atmosphere can be applied across the board at the moment.

So Ferguson, should United fans be expected to produce great atmosphere when the players can’t be bothered to produce a great performance? Should the fans be singing their hearts out proudly when the players on the field look like Old Trafford is one of the last places they want to be? Before having a pop at the fans, Ferguson should look at the multimillionaires on the park yesterday who looked disinterested and lazy. He should think about the tactics he’s employing and the training he’s giving, when we’re conceding to two set pieces and we can’t score more than one goal at home against a team that have conceded an average of close to two goals a game this season.

I’m not one for criticising Ferguson, but he should think twice before humiliating us and showing up the fans who do go to sing. Talk of prawn sandwiches will be rife over the next week or so in the press and from rival fans, and that’s not something I feel we deserve. Maybe he did have the club’s best interest at heart, wanted to increase the noise levels at Old Trafford the same way all the proper fans do, but I can’t help but disagree with the fashion and timing of these comments.

We all know something needs to be done about our home atmosphere, but was Ferguson right to make these comments now?


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

View all posts by Scott »

 

14 Comments

  1. Patrick Byrne says:

    Well done. I love your writing and check this site daily. You are the standard for Manchester United blogs.

  2. tk-united4ever says:

    i’ve noticed that we had several games like this last season,apart from the “big games “our home fans are really quite.

  3. tk-united4ever says:

    you are right gaffer.

  4. craig mc says:

    I’m fanatical ManU, but maybe we have been a tad too loyal to Ferguson in never bleating when the team are rank bad, and never critcising (OUT OF LOYALTY- FERGIE PLEASE TAKE NOTE ) any decisions he makes, WRONG or RIGHT. Sick of his disparaging comments about ManU home fans. Did Fergie fight for keeping the Stretford End for the Stretford End Choir of old, who were majestic, and every equivelant of the Cop, when the grounds went all seated?. Did he F***!. Anfield made sure the Cop choir got seated in the Cop. So beware Fergie, bite the hand that feeds you at your peril.

  5. Anekin says:

    Im really worried this season for our so-called star-studded team.
    Unlike last season, we’re a bit insipid this season, and fans cannot be blamed for that. I fear about the lack in desire this season, i really do.
    What do others reds think?

  6. Eddie says:

    I think all the players were tired yesterday. Ronaldo, Vidic, Rio, Evra and Tevez has at least played 3 of 4 games in the last week. They looked careless and tired, but the most important thing yesterday was to take all three points. We did that and they played great football at times. The last minutes was torture and that agonises me more! We should manage to score at least three on a side like that with the team we played, but some players just ruin it, like Carrick and some passes from Nani came behind the player. If we had countered with Ronaldo not being so desperate to score a goal of the season contender, we would have been talking about witch goal that was the most beautiful one. The first, second, third or fourth. Even fifth if we hadnt been so unlucky to hit the post twice. But Fergie comments about Glazer might only be because he wants them to give him money to buy Anelka or Berba! The comments about the crowd was wierd to read because, I sang with full voice and almost everybody roared and shouted, and I thought the atmosphere was `OK, not dead! I didnt see Fergie singing either and yesterday he was a part of the crowd.

  7. Salford red. says:

    A new year and a another chance for Fergie to have is annual pop at us. I sit in North stand lower and it was/is very quiet. However it is no worse than every other premier league ground. The reasons for the lack of atmostphere in football grounds is a natural reticence by most people to leave behind the normal customs and conventions of modern life and sing loudly and passionately in a relatively confined space. This tendency used to be offset by the fact that in the past people could stand and for whatever reason this encouraged a group/gang mentality which transended social coventions . Now, because of factors beyond our control, we sit down and passively consume our football like any other modern “leisure activity.” Premier league stadia is ergonomically designed like a fast food outlet. You pay your money watch the “show” and go home. Least us forget we are customers. Participation is not encouraged. To hear Fergie bemoaning the exisistence of day trippers and silent supporters whilst remaining steadfastly loyal to the Gimps reigme is pretty sad. It is those who epitomize the ruthless pillaging of the soul of football for profit, not us. Such specious and clumsy comments meerly give ammunition to the myth makers in the modern media Fergie professes to despise. Maybe if such comments continue we should start making our own ill judged comments about that fucking horse.

  8. Tom F says:

    Do you think Alex Ferguson has lasted as manager at Old Trafford for over 20 years just because of his sucess in winning the club trophies? Not at all. He has remained at the helm of one of sports toughest jobs by sticking by his decisions, showing great balance in those decisions and supporting all the correct foundations Within our club to keep our club heading in the right direction.

    Old Trafford is nowhere near as loud as it could be due to a number of reasons, I think one of them being the amount of our worldwide fanbase that come all the way to Old Trafford to watch their beloved team play but don’t make much noise themselves. New Years hangovers couldnt have helped either, but my point is not to have a go at Sir Alex himself, I am sure he had a good few thoughts in private about the Glazers, about Old Trafford become seating only, but that’s him and he has a job to do in which he is trying to give his players a lift after ANOTHER disruptive Xmas, with the allegations against Evans and he is trying to get a response from the fans in the same way he’d get a positive one from his squad of players.

    I do think he has come out with that comment as he does so about 3 times a season, I don’t think he’s being harsh. He also comments on the fans when the are loud, it does boost the players.

  9. Mike S says:

    Spot on Scott!I cant afford the season ticket at Old Trafford so I have to rely on getting to 8-10 games a season. Its always struck me that sitting behind the goal makes you feel part of a better atmosphere, but in the north stand it is usually quiet, apart from tier 3 which gets rowdy!anyway, fergie needs to think about what hes saying, but I think he definetly planned to say it to make a point, as he said it to MUTV and sky. The papers had a field day today going on about the lack of atmosphere, but without being bitter, I swear that the Anfield atmosphere is the same as the one at Old Trafford. With everyone sat down, it is hard to generate much noise, and this whole thing about the Kops roar is utter bollocks nowadays. You can guarantee the Stretty will always make some noise, and I doubt the atmosphere was as bad yesterday as at the Lisbon home game, which I thought was very poor. Anyhow theres no need for Fergie to go on about it, and he does not seem to have the fans interest at heart when it comes to the Glazers and ticket prices.

  10. Tom F says:

    That was not a question to anybody in particular, just a retorical one.. I just think we should support him, as when he goes that stability would be a concern of mine.

  11. craig mc says:

    Mike S – you make sense with some of your comments on Fergie!. My point is, that Ferguson doesn’t lambast his players publicly, or the Glazers or any of the United board, SO WHAT MAKES IT OKAY TO LAMBAST THE MANU FANS ON NATIONAL TV. He doesn’t seem to mind making us a national debate does he?. The chairman of the independent United supporters – IMUSA, has blasted back. calling Old Trafford ground A POLICE STATE, where supporters are manhandled and thrown out for standing up in excitement to cheer the team on, and then are threatened with losing their season tickets if they do it again – B*******. I loved Fergie, but he has publicly humiliated ManU fans once too often now for my liking. We’re not his puppets to be wound up mechanically whenever he feels like attributing blame for the lack of atmosphere on TEAM DEAD DAYS. RANT OVER!!!!!!!!!!.

  12. Patricia says:

    Fans who can attend games, even sporadically, do not appreciate how lucky they are. I would give my firstborn for a chance to attend every home game. I would sing out loud and proud, and who cares if I look follish? We need to make a lot of noise next match and make Sir Alex smile. Don’t overlook how intimidating it can be for an opposing team to have to walk into that wall of sound. But on the other hand, his attack on the fans smells suspiciously of an attempt to deflect attention from the team’s performance, which needs to elevate a notch if we are to repeat.

  13. Tom F says:

    I genuinely think he is rooting for a good response from our fans, who can be quiet on more occaisions than loud. He knows that every little thing will count to retain our title because Arsenal are looking very much like us last season, this is going to be the biggest battle for years.

    He only mentions the fans negatively on points few and far between. Fans and Players respond to eachother but the thing is when things aren’t going well on the pitch fans seem to go a bit flat when they are needed to craete atmosphere the most. Away from home, the following supporters travel because they are full on passionate and will make lots of noise at home its a mix so the fans can either be generally quiet shy people or not used to the atmosphere.

    The papers will make a fuss about anything they can, lets just hope Fergie doesn’t break wind. They’ll have a field day!

  14. Tom F says:

    HIS COMMENTS WERE MADE ABOUT THE ATMOSPHERE, HE DIDNT SAY THE FANS WERE BEING TOO QUIET. INSTEAD OF SEEING IT AS A DIG AT FANS, MAYBE IT’S A DIG AT THE OVER THE TOP HEALTH AND SAFETY RULES IN PLACE IN ALL STADIUMS WHICH I’M SURE HE DIDN’T MAKE-UP. MAYBE AT THE OVER THE TOP SECURITY WHICH STOPS FANS IN SOME AREAS STANDING OR CHEERING, HE NEVER MADE THAT UP EITHER. HE IS NOT A STUPID MAN, SUPPORT HIM, HE WANTS THE BEST FOR OUR PLAYERS AND SUPPORTERS.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT BELOW

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log in with your Facebook or Twitter account: