A few years ago I watched a “fly on the wall” documentary about Sheffield United at the time when Neil “Colin” Warnock was in charge and they were flying high in the Championship. It wasn’t riveting – I’ve forgotten most of it – but one bit that sticks in my mind was a matchday when the Blades fans started chanting “Warnock, give us a wave, Warnock Warnock….” The manager duly obliged, before turning to his assistant and muttering ‘”Give us a wave”’ – fucking hell, they’ll be chanting me out in a week’.
Now, say what you like about the man – and everyone does – but he ain’t wrong there, is he? Because when it comes to fickleness, there’s nothing really comparable to football, and that’ll always be the case.
The subject is on my mind today because a few hours ago it was announced that we’ve sadly lost Owen Coyle.
He’s not dead, don’t panic, he’s just been dismissed as manager of Bolton Wanderers, a club we’re not bothered about in the slightest no matter how many times they regard us as the arch-enemy and chant about Munich to us. Of course, a little while back it seemed that Coyle was the new Messiah, the fresh and innovative manager who was going to take the Barclays Premier League (as he liked to call it) by storm.
Much of this was admittedly because he was replacing Gary Megson at the Reebok – the managerial equivalent of having gruel for dinner – but the mantra of “Owen Coyle sides play good football” spread so quickly and was thrown at us so often you did begin to believe it. “One day you’re the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster” is the Twitter bio of a prick I won’t even name, but it is true, and particularly in the case of Coyle.
Still, at least Coyle had over a season in charge at The Reebok. A few weeks ago the press decided to stick their knife into the handsome and enigmatic AVB, even though he’d only been at Tottenham for roughly 10 minutes. Partly this odd vendetta was down to AVB replacing their mate ’Arry, but for me it proved a glimpse into the fickleness that seeps its way through football at the highest level. Tottenham didn’t win a game? He’s under pressure! Chelsea haven’t won the Champions League? Sack him! And on and on it goes, a ridiculous decision followed six months later by another panicked choice. The irony of all this is that if Sir Alex Ferguson had taken charge of United in 2006 rather than 1986, and his first four years at the club between 2006-2010 were like 1986-1990, well, he’d be off managing Scarborough by now and you can forget about that knighthood. Another example of the patience thing possibly being a good idea is David Moyes at Everton. He’s an outsider for the United job, for me, but I think it’s interesting how everyone is now complimenting Everton for their performances – and rightly so – without perhaps realising that it’s taken Moyes about a decade to get the club to that level. More power to his elbow, I say.
Being as spoilt as we are, there’s not much patience going round Old Trafford nowadays, and that’s a shame. Abysmal first half display though it was, I was a little stunned to see the team get booed off at half-time against Tottenham, and I doubt Fergie was too impressed with it either. With van Persie and Kagawa joining the squad, and the manager trying a few different formations and ideas, it’s going to take time to gel. Besides, we nearly always start the season badly, so there’s no panicking from me just yet. An impressive display against Newcastle – which contained the best 15 minute spell I’ve seen from a United side for many years – hints that something special is on its way…if we give it time to develop, that is.
Enjoy the international break!