It's been a little while since I raised the issue of my own personal club, and with them hitting the news again this week, I thought it was perhaps time for a review of where we are so far this season.
Commentators have this slightly bizarre opinion of United that we have recently been genius and it's all just a matter of time before we click and give someone a walloping. This is utter, utter fallacy. United haven't actually been any good, other than a very odd game or two, since 2000. The second Juan Sebastian Veron was unveiled in the centre of our midfield, we have never recovered. I'm not blaming Veron specifically, but this whole idea that we have remained at the top of the pile since that time are frankly ludicrous.
Yes, we, slighly luckily, won the Premiership title in 2002/3. The season before we finished a distant third, the seasons after we finished a distant third both seasons. For a club that wasn't put of the top two since 1991, this represents quite a fall.
If you watch United on a regular basis, week in, week out, you will realise one truth. We are not very good anymore. We can't score goals. We can't defend. We are about as exciting as watching Midsomer Murders in slow motion.
And this season we are plumbing new depths of hopelessness. The 4-1 defeat, entirely deserved against Middlesbrough on Saturday was the final straw for long-serving captain and Ferguson mouthpiece Roy Keane. In an interview pulled by GMTV earlier this week, Keane is believed to have named and shamed several members of the current squad he felt were either playing by reputation, or not understanding the need to play with passion for the side.
Ask a United fan - Roy Keane is quite, quite correct.
I have no panacea to our problems. I don't think it is the manager, or the board, or the takeoever. I think teams have certainly caught up (and overtaken) us, but the biggest problem we face is that our current first team squad is simply not good enough. And, the so-called "big name" players on that teamsheet are largely underperforming.
Our starting line up against Middlesbrough on Saturday was one of the weakest I have seen for a long while. Our central midfield threesome of Darren Fletcher (promising but should be being gently bedded in), Paul Scholes (woefully off form) and Alan Smith (yet to convince anyone he is a holding midfielder).
The players that can escape general hostility at present are few and far between. Rooney and Ruud are working hard with zero service. Ronaldo will be genius when he learns that falling on his arse won't win a free kick every time.
The one player I will single out for abuse is £120,000 a week clown Rio Ferdinand. Was there ever a player who owes a club a decent set of performances over months and years having (i) dropped them in the doo-doo by forgetting to take a piss and sitting watching the season go down the toilet whilst pocketing £80,000 a week and (ii) stringing the same team along for months whilst deciding whether he'd settle for a mere 50% pay rise.
(Paul Scholes contract negotiations during this same period took one hour. He walked into the office, had his accountant check the deal, signed it and left.)
Rio needs to be very careful. If we had more than three fit defenders, he wouldn't be playing. England found a couple of better ones and had no hesitation in playing them instead. The main chant to be heard at FC United of Manchester games goes:
"We don't care about Rio
He don't care about me
All I care about, is watching FC"
Which says it all.
United are a team in irreversible decline. The squad isnt strong enough, teams are no longer afraid of them and the manager is, now we are in the Glazer era, on very shaky ground. Pity the poor bloke who ends up taking over from Ferguson as he is going to inherit an aging, increasingly complacent side who haven't shown any sign of winning a significant trophy (discounting beting Millwall in an FA Cup Final) since 2003.
I find it depressing yet at the same time mildy amusing. Oh, and we're now 1-0 down to Lille in the Champions League as well. On the basis we can't score more than about a goal a game, that's a draw at best, then.
Our next game? Chelsea this weekend. Want my advice? Stick your house on the Champions. And pick up two houses at 6pm on Sunday.