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Opinion Piece

The fools on the hill

Day after day,
Alone on a hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he’s just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning ’round.

Well on the way,
Head in a cloud,
The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him,
or the sound he appears to make,
and he never seems to notice,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning ’round.

And nobody seems to like him,
they can tell what he wants to do,
and he never shows his feelings,

But the fool on the hill,
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning ’round.

Ooh, ooh,
Round and round and round.

And he never listens to them,
He knows that they’re the fools
They don’t like him,

The fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning ’round.

Round and round and round


Ever since September 2nd’s shambolic last second desperado attempts to acquire talent for Manchester United, I have had this song playing in my head and have come to accompany it’s lyrics with the reality that has become David Moyes and Edward Woodward.
The fools on the hill or the fools from Old Trafford, either way it ends up the same at the end and the lyrics resonate with reality. David Moyes has gone from being a mystery and a small concern three months ago to the man who cannot put his pants on right. His short tenure as manager of Manchester United has been a roller coaster car that is waiting to derail and come crashing down to earth while crushing the dreams and aspirations of the millions of supporters who begrudgingly placed their support and faith in the man.

In these three months Moyes has gone from mystery, to popular choice to out of his depth tactically and now he is marked by his ineptitude and incompetence in the transfer window as well as having shown no positive signs in improving his club’s chances or play on the pitch. I cannot help but recall Sir Alex Ferguson’s plea to all the supporters to stand by our new manager and give him a chance. Fair enough, but it has become evident quite early in his Manchester United career that the man may have bitten off more than he can chew. As far as this supporter is concerned, he is way over his head and way out of his depths and his lack of support from upstairs points to a disastrous turn as manager of this once proud and prestigious club.

Many of you might be wondering what do I mean by using past tense to describe our club’s pride and prestige? Well what exactly can I mean after the recent events on and especially off the pitch have redefined our club as a comedy act resembling the antics of Benny Hill, the Muppet Show and Laurel and Hardy. The disgraceful and embarrassing manner in which Moyes and his partner in crime, Edward Woodward conducted themselves during this past transfer window will go down as legend, but for all the wrong reasons. Their dual incompetence, disrespect and naiveté in attempting to buy players has placed United in a very unfamiliar and uncomfortable state.

In all my years I have yet to recall Manchester United or any club for that manner behave in such an idiotic, disrespectful and embarrassingly amateurish manner when trying to negotiate player transfers. Edward Woodward alone should be taken out to the city square and placed in stocks and United fans should be allowed to walk by him, slap him across the face and throw eggs at him. His sheer incompetence and disgraceful lack of etiquette in negotiations with clubs like Everton, Athletic Bilbao and others has me wondering and asking serious questions of intent when it comes to the Glazer family for placing him in a position where he had zero experience and every chance in the world to fail in. The man was the Glazer’s investment banker and was originally hired to advise them in their takeover bid of United. After that he was brought in to run their commercialization of United. He was adept and experienced in signing up major telecom companies, insurance companies, Russian Airlines and Malaysian crisp manufacturers etc, but not football players. As far as football experience and knowledge, he was clueless and you know what folks, it shows.

In the last two months United under the leadership of Moyes and Woodward have laboured and suffered the ridicule and incriminations of millions of supporters of the club as well as those who don’t support United but are laughing themselves silly in the process. We have gone from being the beacon of competence and professionalism that was evident under Sir Alex and David Gill’s tenure to becoming the laughing stock of the football world. Meanwhile all is rosy and wonderful in Florida where the Glazer’s continue to rake in the cash without a solitary concern over the ineptitude that threatens to turn their investment sour in no time at all.

The lack of vision and practical business sense displayed by the owners of this club beckons the question, how in God’s name did these ass clowns ever become multi- millionaires in the first place? Seriously, how can you expect a sports franchise, any sports franchise to succeed and maximize its revenue stream when you do not invest wisely in quality players annually as well as hire competent and highly qualified personnel to run the club at all levels?

Under Sir Alex it was clear that the Glazer’s had simply won the lottery. They were not required to invest much money in player development and yet the club flourished and succeeded on the pitch thanks all to the genius and abilities of Sir Alex. While he was manager the Glazer’s could expect significant investment in the team from merchandising and commercialization because everybody wants to back a winner. But have these Floridian Con artists ever considered a scenario where Fergie was no longer the manager and the victories and trophies all of a sudden dried up. That a drought and slump would incur due to a lack of on field investment that would reverse their fortunes as owners. All of a sudden the salad days were over and the money stopped rolling in because fewer fans were buying merchandise, ticket sales started to diminish and worst of all, sponsors started to close their doors to their approaches. Those are the realities of losing and what long term failure will bring to this club thanks to their narrow vision and lack of scruples. At that point they will seriously consider selling which may seem like a Godsend to most of us, but we have no assurances that they will sell to a top investor who has the best interests of the club at stake. We could only be so lucky to be bought by a owner committed to winning like a Sheikh Monsour or a Roman Abramovich. The reality unfortunately is that the Glazer’s in their spite and bitterness would pawn us off to some other greedy pyramid scheme American ownership group and the whole cycle would begin again. But I digress. This article is about Moyes and Woodward.

Getting back to the dynamic duo, I just cannot and will not ever understand why these two men were ever hired for their positions considering the size, scope and expectations this club has and what their supporters expect? Even more puzzling is why Sir Alex would be so willing to entrust and support David Moyes with something he put 26 years of blood, sweat and tears in to build, only to have an inexperienced and ill suited man come in and destroy it over night? As much as I love and respect Fergie, I just cannot and will not ever understand his willingness to support this fellow Scot and to comply with the demands and limitations the Glazer’s imposed on him during his last years running this club. During that time, not a single disparaging peep out of him questioning the direction this club was taking.

So let’s look back and review the summer and the comedy sitcom that was created during the “Silly Season” . Assurances and promises were made. Under Moyes and Woodward, quality players would be brought in to bolster the defending champions. Moyes was astute enough to realize he needed to improve his midfield and find a replacement for the aging Patrice Evra. He also had to deal with the headache that was Wayne Rooney. The fiasco started with us being linked with Thiago Alcantera. Plan “A” is a great little player with loads of potential but a player I realistically could not see leaving Barcelona unless his mentor Pep Guardiola came knocking. And that’s what happened. Two weeks wasted chasing a ghost and never even placing a bid for fear it would be accepted. Now it was time for Plan “B”, Cesc Fabregas. If there is a definition of an “unrealistic target”, Fabregas fit the bill. A devoted Catalan and life-long Barcelona supporter, he was never interested in leaving and the only thing he got form this interest shown in him was a fat ego and bargaining power for a better contract from Barcelona. How many bids did we put in for him? One, two, three? Regardless, the answer from Barcelona each time was NO and eventually Fabregas put an end to the farce by saying he was flattered but definitely not interested. So what was Moyes and Woodward’s rebuttal to that? Lets waste more time and make another bid.
Those first two Barcelona targets were dismal failures but they pointed out a strategy and motive for United’s transfer season. I have mentioned numerous times on the blog that I believe that United entered this transfer season with virtually no serious money to conduct business on a par with Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and as it showed at the end, even Arsenal. For years now it seemed that Fergie was settling for players that would cost no more than 30 million pounds total. 2011/12 was an exception to that golden rule because it was a year where we got embarrassed on the final day of the season and championship number 20 eluded us and because of that, Fergie demanded a few dollars more from the Glazer’s and purchased Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa. Other than that, we seemed to follow that 30 million cap closely.

But now Fergie was gone and the Glazer’s felt no pressure to deliver on promises made and they felt no pressure from Moyes who after all was hired because he was loyal and never rocked the boat when he never got his way financially. So a scheme was concocted. An elaborate ruse and facade designed to keep fans interested and hopeful and to sell the illusion to the rest of the league and world that United were still major players and big spenders , when in reality, nothing was farther from the truth. Simply put, United lied to all of us and mislead us. They created rumour after rumour linking us with players and in the case of players like Fabregas, Modric, Ozil, Khedira, Sneijder, De Rossi, Baines, Fellaini, Coentrao, Herrera, Mata and a few others supposed bids were made. Problem is all those bids were far too low and never came close to the market valuation of those players. The initial 20 million pound bid for both Fellaini and Baines in fact were insulting to not only Everton FC, but any sane, intelligent and devoted fan of football. Considering we ended up paying over 27 million for Fellaini and having a final 20 million bid for Baines turned down shows exactly how low and ridiculously insulting that first bid was.

But the clown act was far from over. Weeks went by and we attempted to insult Real Madrid, Galatasaray, and others with low ball bids for players worth at least twice the amount. Edward Woodward was showing himself to be either a first class Muppet or the evil servant of the Glazer’s performing their bidding, which was to not spend a dime on anyone.

It had become crystal clear that Moyes was not experienced enough in evaluating his needs and his cheap Scottish demeanour would not allow him to splurge a few dollars more and buy quality rather than settle for shite. Woodward was a bull in a china shop. Everything he touched would break due to his incredible incompetence and willingness to insult players and clubs with terrible bids and low salary expectations. Failure after failure followed and most of us were wondering if anyone would be signed?
Moyes was the man who designed the contract for Marouane Fellaini at Everton. He was aware of the 23 million buyout clause yet he ignored it, let it pass by and then in a last minute desperate act spent over 27 million to buy him as the clock was running out just to save face. Sheer lunacy and the act of a man who shouldn’t be in charge of his personal budget let alone that of a first tier football club. But I save the best for last.

For me the coup de grace of this shambolic first two months for both Dave and Woody came on the final day as they seemingly tried to seal two deals before the deadline. Fellaini for me was going to happen so I am not referring to that one. The deals I am referring to were the attempts to sign Ander Herrera from Athletico Bilbao and the loan from Real Madrid of Fabio Coentrao. Now I admittedly know very little about this lad Herrera. But in the last few days of the transfer window United’s interest in this player turned what probably is a “B” talent into a marquee name. After all, if United are after him, he must be good. Funny how a Spanish player that is supposedly world class in the eyes of Moyes and Woodward has not even gotten a wink from Barcelona and Real Madrid over these past months. Ander Herrera is not a world-class talent. In fact he is relatively unknown because he is relatively average to good. His goal scoring record for an attacking midfielder makes Luka Modric’s goal haul seem like Ronaldo’s or Messi’s. Add to that his assist numbers don’t even belong in the same universe as those of an Ozil or Mata. Nevertheless, United saw him, liked him ad it seemed were prepared to make a bid for him despite the fact Bilbao said he was not for sale. The glimmer of hope in signing him however was in the fact he had a buyout clause which stated he could be sold if that 31 million pound was met. Well then Woody and Dave, what are you waiting for. Here is a player who can be bought, who has agreed to come to United and even agreed to a pay cut. And before I continue, consider this. How humiliating is it for a fan of Manchester United when player from a minnow of a club like Athletico Bilbao is forced to take a pay cut if he is to play for the supposed second richest club in the world?

So we all know what transpired by now. We under bid of course and then at the last minute we supposedly matched the buyout number but then reneged on it at the last minute while mysterious negotiators claiming to be United officials attempted to hijack the proceedings. I find it interesting that these individuals would show up in Bilbao and then also see United pull off an unprecedented public relations nightmare by reneging on an agreement to buy. Well that’s how I have heard it anyway. Anybody feel free to enlighten me if things went differently than I am reporting them. United showed and played their hand like amateur poker players who just got fleeced in Vegas. Moyes and company never for a minute had any intention of buying Herrera, unless he was given to them at a bargain price. To renege on an agreed deal and to sight the fact you never agreed to the player valuation is just retarded speak for getting cold hands once your bluff is exposed. And what did this do for Ander Herrera? It left the player swinging in the wind with his dick exposed wondering what the Hell just happened.

That was to be followed by the last minute attempt to wrangle a deal with Real Madrid for Fabio Coentrao. This loan for me might have help salvage the calamitous failure of this transfer season, but even that was not meant to be. Instead United got burned simply because the paperwork involved was too complex to complete in the few minutes they had and once Real Madrid lost out in their pursuit of replacement LB Guilherme Siquierato to Benfica, they stalled and time had elapsed. Simple, you do not wait to get your business done at the last second. Deadlines that are not respected are usually not met. As a model, I lie the club that wraps up its buying in the first week of the transfer window or at the end of the previous season. Why dick around, procrastinate and wait until everybody and the neighbour clues in to your target. Why wait until the end when the player’s price tag increases? Like I said earlier, Edward Woodward should be marched out and placed in stocks and David Moyes should…… well I’ll, reserve my insults for him as I am still committed in giving this man a chance to prove himself and redeem his dwindling reputation. Woodward gets no such consideration or respect. Unlike Moyes who paid his dues with eleven semi successful and loyal years at Everton, Woodward has done nothing and shown nothing to warrant the position he has been granted. Fact is, and this is no joke, I’m more qualified to run the club as are many of our loyal Red Rant members. That alone is a biting indictment on the incompetence and sheer disgracefulness in conduct hat has followed this clown since he took this position as Chief Executive.

The transfer window is closed and with our dreams and aspirations for a highly successful campaign. I cannot get out of my mind that for 42 million pounds we could have bought Mesut Ozil, a playmaker extraordinaire and a world class talent who wanted to come to Old Trafford. Instead we bogged ourselves down for two months pursuing forlorn hopes and lost causes. Despite Moyes’ limited allure and pedigree, there were players like Ozil who wanted to come and play for us. Even Cristiano Ronaldo wants to come back but good luck ever seeing that happen. Yeah right, when I get elected Prime Minister of Canada.

David Moyes has Fellaini and now he has to concern himself with how this club will turn around their fortunes on the pitch. It will be interesting to see just what he does. Will he be his own man for a change and stop walking in Fergie’s shadow or will he make a muck of things like he has up to now? He needs to wake up to the realities of his squad and its limitations as well as it’s positive potential. Good things are waiting to happen if he would only sit down Giggs, Cleverley, Young and Valencia and start playing the youthful super talented players like Adnan Januzaj, Wilfried Zaha and even Jesse Lingard. He has succeeded in stopping Chelsea from raiding us and stealing Rooney and now he needs to get the very best out of Wayne because Sunday’s sad showing against rivals Liverpool showed just how pedestrian and mediocre we are without him in the line-up. We need to make better use of Shinji Kagawa. A splendid little player with creative skills we are presently not utilizing yet are in desperate need of. And finally, I am of the believe and greatly hope that Marouane Fellaini solidifies our midfield by partnering Michael Carrick well and adding some creative elements as well as some physicality and grit. His ability in the air on set pieces should also be a welcome gift. There is nothing else we can do for now and so despite his inadequacy and his show of ineptitude during the summer, we must band behind him and support him even though that element of common sense and logic in our kinds tells us it’s a hopeless endeavour.

I want David Moyes to do well despite his inadequacies for the job. I want Edward Woodward to go straight to Hell or to the Glazer’s mansions in Florida (same thing). Just get as far away from Old Trafford as is humanly possible. David Moyes needs to do well if we are to have any chance of maintaining and keeping this club’s label as a dynasty and slowing down the internal rot the Glazer’s have started. Dave needs to open his mind and wake up to the realities of the situation and with that I pray he finds the courage and resolve to stand up to his employers and for a change have somebody within Manchester United stand up and represent the best interests of the club and it’s millions of loyal and adoring fans. What is presently happening is ugly and will mark this club. Hopefully winning and the spirit it evokes can cover up these scars and allow us to progress in the future until more suitable ownership takes over the club presently being held hostage by greed and unscrupulous criminals. So despite my disappointment and words of foreboding, I say it’s now time to forget the recent past and move forward despite what our minds tell us. Follow your hearts mates, despite the owners and the staff in charge, Manchester United will always belong to the supporters and we will continue to support and sing to the team’s success. We will all survive this regime and the club will one day be freed from this bondage. Even if the road ahead looks long, winding and awfully bumpy.