Once more we stand at the gates of hell staring into the devils eyes.
We have no fear.
Say it louder.
We have no fear.
Okay, look, standing there shaking like a leaf and stuttering the words isn't exactly going to work. Believe the words you speak. Live the words. And then follow it through rather than capitulate and implode.
Now onwards, Harry and soldiers of fortune. Onwards into the pits of hell itself...
Yes. It's that time of the season when we visit the Theatre of Howard Webb. We've not done badly in spurts against United in recent years. Taking the lead, bossing it, but then proceeding to fall back, bending over for them to all the deliver of their seasonal thrusts of hurt. United are not on top of their game at the moment and if we hold our nerve...Well, I guess we'll have to wait and see. Would dearly like us to finally win away to one of the traditional Top 4 sides for the first time in 60+ games. Letter to Santa posted.
So for the tradition of pre-match banter I thought I'd return the seasonal favour (no, no, not thrusts) and this time interview the Red over at the majestic Republik of Mancunia blog, rather than have him ask me the questions. It's the polite thing to do.
So warm welcome to Scott the Red losing his DML cherry. I promise to be gentle.
With thanks to the army of anti-United fans over at Glory Glory for their suggestions for questions. So enjoy. It's a good read. One or two fallacies about the Manc club we love to hate placed to bed.
Spooky - First up, let's get Wayne Rooney out of the way. All a bit of a mess, no? What went down exactly? Stretford choking money out of United for his client? Ploy by Fergie and Wayne to get the Glazars to promise funds for the war chest? Surely it's not been done to maximise a potential future fee off the back of the five year contract signed? What's the feeling with how events unfolded in and amongst the United faithful?
Scott - We know football is dominated by mercenaries and I suppose United fans feel foolish for believing Rooney is any different. He'd kiss our badge, bang out about how he wanted to be like Giggsy and Scholes and spend his career with United, that he loved the club etc. And we believed him. So of course, it's disappointing to learn you've been conned.
It isn't just that he's money led though but that he was prepared to leave us for City. The deal was done but he bottled it after the reaction from the manager, the media and the fans. I think he figured out there would be a bit of fuss, some booing when he came back to Old Trafford and that would be that. I don't for one moment think he instigated it all, that would be former vacuum salesman Stretford, but Rooney is accountable for his own actions and shouldn't choose to associate with such a ****.
Still on the upside, it now looks we'll bring in top players, which is great. It also means we're in complete control of where Rooney goes and for how much. Before he signed the contract, we would have had to ship him off in January to whomever was prepared to pay the most, but that's not the case now.
Spooky - So, will you be accepting Wayne 'once a red always a red' Rooney back with open arms or accepting that he's royally mugged off the club and fans for a bumper pay packet always with that option to still move away?
Scott - He's completely ruined the relationship he had with the fans. There will be some who will revert to how it was the moment he starts scoring important goals, but for me personally, that's that now. I'll celebrate the goals he scores and I'll hope he does well, because he's a United player and I want the club to do well, but I'll never feel for him what I did. I suppose it's similar to the Robbie Keane situation, although Rooney hasn't gone around kissing someone else's badge saying it's a dream come true.
Spooky - And Fergie's quote about the cows?
Scott - Yeh, weird wasn't it.
Spooky - Do you think there's any chance at all that Rooney would have agreed that Man Utd had an acceptable level of ambition and trust in Ferguson if an angry mob hadn't turned up at his house in the middle of the night threatening to kill him if he joined City?
Scott - You think Rooney agreed a five year deal with a club because 30 lads in black showed up at his gates and couldn't get in? Be serious. I don't think Rooney was fearing for his life.
Spooky - Thirty lads? I heard it was Robbo, Paul McGrath and Norman Whiteside, all loaded with booze and waving broken bottles. Or perhaps not. Regardless, it all smells a bit funny to me. Just doesn't sit right. Rooney's form hasn't been anywhere near decent for a while. Would be disturbing if he played out of his skin when he returns to first team action. So is he genuinely injured?
Scott - Rooney has been injured since March when he did his ankle against Bayern. He was rushed back for the second leg, for the away game at City, with us wanting him around for the vital games at the end of the season. Had there been no World Cup he'd have been having treatment most of the summer. But obviously there was the World Cup and he carried his injury through the summer until the start of the new season. That's what was so bizarre about Rooney's claims that he'd never been injured. We'd all seen him sitting on the bench icing his ankle at the Reebok after being subbed off after an hour the week before, so who did he think he was kidding? The fact that he's been waiting for the wh*re story to come out and a deal with City to be finalised probably hasn't helped his state of mind though.
Spooky - Ah City. What is it with City fans and their obsessions with getting tattoos of players they've not (and don't) sign?
Scott - They're giddy. They've been waiting their whole lives to compete with United (think about it, a City fan would have to be at least 40-years-old to even have vague memories of his team winning something) and so desperately cling on to anything that seems like glory or success.
Spooky - Talking of the enemy, what about those pesky Glazers? It's good spin for them, no? Responding, supposedly to Fergie and Rooney's 'demands'? Perhaps a spin worthy of an ounce of respect from the dark depths of your soul?
Scott - Ha! The Glazers could come up with a cure for cancer, United fans still wouldn't have any time for them. You know, Forbes magazine this year said we're the most valuable sports franchise in the world... more so than the New York Yankees, Real Madrid, all that, so should we not be holding on to players like Rooney? Contrary to what the papers quote as his salary, which includes image rights and bonuses, Rooney has signed for £160k a week. Obviously that's an insane amount of money for normal people, but when you compare it to what Tevez, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Adebayor earn, it's not great. When it comes to signing players and paying players, money should be no object to a club like ours, but it obviously is. The fact that the Glazers have managed to keep Rooney (I assume our season ticket prices won't be frozen for next season!) is standard, not something they should be praised for.
Spooky - On the subject of Yanks, considering the success Liverpool have had ousting their bogus owners don't you think as fans you have been a failure in ousting the Glazers? If that's been the attempt. Some would argue - the problem at OT - is practically the same as the one at Liverpool but at a far slower and less chaotic pace. Is it because there are too many glory hunters that are not hardcore enough that don't understand the situation? Many whinge bitterly about the Glazers, yet continue to hand money over to them every week by going to games - thus giving them their main source of revenue to pay the interest on the debt they've attached to the club.
Scott - Liverpool cost £300m. United cost £1b. Our problem is finding someone to pay that amount of money for us. If it was just a case of finding someone prepared to pay £300m, this would have been resolved years ago.
I renewed my season ticket this season and for the first time really considered not doing so. I had read stuff from MUST saying that since 2005, something like 50,000 people had given up their season tickets, and they'll be thousands more on top of that who didn't have season tickets but have stopped by match day tickets. But Old Trafford has 75,000 every home game, despite the fact that many people or more have boycotted the ground. Whilst I still believe that my seat will be filled by someone else, who doesn't sing, who views the ticket as a nice day out, I won't give up my seat. That's selfish on my part and it doesn't sit right with me, but if you give up your seat to get rid of the Glazers, and you do get rid of the Glazers, you don't get your seat back.
Spooky - How 'realistic' was the Red Knight's alleged bid?
Scott - Well, the Red Knights could be viewed in a similar way to NESV. A group of people who couldn't individually afford the club, but collectively could. You have to be wary that you're not just jumping out of the frying pan and in to the fire, but anyone who claims to have the fans best interest at heart is surely better than owners who refer to the fans as 'customers'. MUST gave their backing and the RK ship hasn't sailed just yet, but who knows what will happen.
Spooky - So are the yellow and green brigade fighting a losing battle?
Scott - The g&g was about raising awareness and putting on pressure. We went 5 years with limited media coverage and with the Glazers not feeling the heat at all. But a few months in to the campaign you have David Beckham joining in and the Red Knights talking about buying is, two things that never happened before. Maybe g&g is over now, I dunno, I still wear my scarf, but it has served a purpose.
Spooky - I guess wearing Norwich City scarfs is highly unlikely to scare off the Glazers. Perhaps pigs heads thrown onto the pitch will be far more effective? Or if possible a scooter?
Scott - It was never about scaring them. It was about getting worldwide recognition of our plight in hope of putting pressure on the Glazers to leave. We're not there yet. We could have saved the pig's head for Wastelands if Rooney had gone.
Spooky - Betty's hot-pots? Would be easy to smuggle into the ground and you could get a fair distance when throwing them? Err…anyways, moving on but remaining on the subject of the Glazers and scarfs, I've always scoffed at the irony of wearing the green & gold scarf then draping it around an AIG logo. It's akin to Spurs fans during the dark days throwing their season tickets onto the pitch in disgust…on the final day of the season.
Scott - Yeh and traipsing in to the Megastore to buy their United bedspread and lampshade and whatever else.
Spooky - You mentioned season ticket renewal. I'm assuming then that the 100k season ticket waiting list is a fallacy. People have alleged that getting tickets is relatively easy although the impression off the back of what some would call propaganda in terms of how hard it's perpetuated to get tickets.
Scott - Well, we know there is no waiting list now because they put the season tickets on general sale this year. If someone had told me ten years ago a United season ticket would go on general sale, I'd think we must have gone down to the Conference! But that waiting list has been whittled away year on year. We've got 52,000 season ticket holders now and over 50,000 people who have already given up their season ticket.