The last time I was present at a Manchester United versus Leicester City game at Old Trafford was on March 18th, 1967. I have been to Old Trafford many, many times before and since but only ever once when they played Leicester. The game sticks in the mind for two reasons. The first is David Herd scoring the first goal and breaking his leg in the process when falling over Gordon Banks whilst in the act of shooting. The second is the scoreline of 5-2 to United.

Back then, Leicester didn’t have a bad team, it just wasn’t very good. Now the situations have been completely reversed. At the moment United don’t have a bad team, it just isn’t very good. An example of how far down in the estimation of even ex-players the club has gone was typified recently by Denis Law. He was asked if he thought his team of the sixties would beat the current one. He thought for a moment and replied, “yes, I think so, 1-0.” When the interviewer wondered why such a low score Law replied, “well, we’re all in our seventies now!”

The difficulty for the majority of the United fans, particularly those who comment on popular social networking sites, is that they do not possess a sense of humour. It is also true that many of them have never even been to Old Trafford.  

Unlike Manchester City fans who, until relatively recently had been starved of success for years, they have not had the harsh upbringing which makes any type of achievement more celebratory. Reds supporters cannot see the funny side because, in fact, there isn’t one to see if you were born after a certain year.

The United fans, used to the good times under Fergie, cannot now stomach the bad times which were always going to be inevitable when he was replaced. Brought up on success after success, those fans start crying the minute there is a cessation in the winning of trophies. Unlike myself, the majority weren’t around when United were winning the European Cup the first time, which could be savoured for years because it was the first time. Success came fleetingly in those days and, in the early seventies the unthinkable happened, United were relegated. I often think that today’s fans might be a little more patient if they had been around when success was an infrequent visitor.

The truth is very simple. Ed Woodward is the biggest square peg in the biggest round hole at Old Trafford, (although he probably spends more time in his office in Mayfair, further distancing himself from any form of reality). Ed has made two disastrous managerial appointments. Neither David Moyes nor Louis van Gaal were what was required at the time.

He has also been responsible for vastly overspending on average players in two transfer windows. It is very obvious to everybody except Woodward that van Gaal needs to go. It is also very obvious to everybody except Woodward that he needs to concentrate on his dealings with sponsors and not allowed within a hundred miles of anything football related.

Had Woodward employed a manager who tried to play attractive football and win games, he would have been forgiven for not winning a trophy in the first couple of years. As it is, van Gaal could win the FA Cup and still won’t be forgiven for the dross he has served up during his time in charge.

On the other hand Leicester, having dispensed with the services of Nigel Pearson for reasons not necessarily related to football, replaced him with Claudio Ranieri. At the time, most people expected Leicester to be relegated and the appointment of Ranieri did nothing to change this feeling. The fact that Leicester will win the Premier League for the first time in their history is nothing short of a miracle and Claudio Ranieri deserves all the credit for achieving it.

So Leicester, a relatively small club, have replaced one successful manager with another, even more successful one.

Manchester United, with all their money, have replaced one successful manager with, up to now, two unsuccessful managers.

The moral of the story has to be: take a long look at the one who is making the managerial appointments. Maybe he needs replacing with someone more successful!


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