Keeping our enemies close: Manchester United fan on Smith, glory hunters and rivalry TSS January 2, 2010 Away Fans Views, Leeds United 23 Comments I was recently featured on The Republik of Mancunia blog answering questions in the build-up to our FA Cup clash at Old Trafford. The author of the site and lad who was putting the questions to me also agreed to do the same in return, the results of which are below. Obviously, the temptation to try and wind him up was hard to resist, but I think he countered well throughout. 1 ) Hi RoM, it’s been a while since we last played one another. I hear your fans have been enjoying themselves with choruses of ‘we all hate Leeds scum,’ so I take it you’re happy with the draw? Made up about the draw. As all the teams were being picked out it became like a countdown with us two still left in it. Felt a bit like a Football Factory moment lol. I hate Liverpool more than your lot but we get to play them twice a year already, so it’ll be great for us to meet again, and hopefully, absolutely batter you. 2 ) When Ronaldo was sold for an extortionate sum of money in the summer, everyone expected Manchester United to be big spenders thereafter, but it never really happened, did it? Do you think the money was used to pay off the debt the Glaziers have burdened your club with and what are you feelings on the owners these days? The official reason given by the manager was that the transfer market was crazy so we’d never get value for money that summer. You have to consider when Lescott is being bought for £24m, Tevez for £47m and Ribery is being quoted at £60m, it’s probably not the best time to buy! We had agreed a deal worth £30m for Benzema but then Real Madrid came in at the last minute and offered £5m more. If we matched that, they would have offered £10m more. You can’t get in to a bidding war with them. We’ll see what happens next summer I guess but of course I won’t rule out the possibility of the money being absorbed by the debt. Since the Glazers have been here, we’ve enjoyed one of our most successful eras, but that has been in spite of them, rather than because of them. The sooner they f**k off the better. The money we pay for our seasons tickets and the transfer money that come in should be for the improvement of the club, not to pay off some debt that shouldn’t belong to us. There are always rumours that someone else is ready to buy, but realistically, they would have to pay around £1billion for the Glazers to get anything out of the deal, which isn’t going to happen. 3 ) If it’s any consolation, you cheered us lot up by making our debts look pathetic in comparison. Anyway, you hit a bit of a rough patch lately with defeats at home to Villa and a battering away to Fulham. Surely a team of your stature should be able to deal with a few injuries a bit better than that? I suppose that’s the brilliant thing about football, isn’t it? If it was all won on paper, with which team should beat another, then there would be no point playing. We’ve put ten goals past Wigan this season, whilst Chelsea lost to them 3-1. That’s why football is great because it’s so unpredictable. I’d argue that having just one fit defender, left back Evra, is more than “a few injuries”. I’ve never known anything like it. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans, John O’Shea, Gary Neville, Rafael and Fabio all being injured. I can’t recall a club ever being hit so badly in one position like that. One of the biggest problems with the injuries, when playing our second choice keeper and three midfielders in defence, was the issue of other players being out of position. For example, Fletcher has been one of our best performing players this season in the centre of the park, bossing the midfield, but he can’t have much of an impact on the game from right back! Carrick plays a big role with his creativity in feeding the wingers/strikers, again, something he can’t do from defence. We lost 4-1 to Liverpool at home last season with our strongest team and beat Chelsea 3-0 with a weaker team. You’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got and on your days things can go your way. Against Fulham it just wasn’t our day. You move on. We’ve scored eight goals in our two games since and conceded one (a penalty). That’s football. 4 ) Yeah, you certainly seem to be back on form now, which is a bit of worry for us with Sunday in mind. Surely it’s not just me that thought Jenson Button deserved Sports Personality of the Year? Ryan Giggs hasn’t even got a personality! I’d argue Michael Owen and Kelly Holmes are more void of personality, if I’m honest! Didn’t stop them winning it though. It is awarded to the sportsperson “whose actions have most captured the public’s imagination”. Winning eleven league titles (three more than any other player in the history of English football), playing in his third European Cup final and being voted as the PFA Player of the Year by his peers is pretty good going. I feel bad for Button because it was the best year of his career, but did he achieve as much in 2009 as Ryan Giggs? Depends where you rank an individual sport against a team game I suppose. I couldn’t give a f**k about F1 and have worshipped Giggsy for years, so you’re asking the wrong person! 5 ) What happened to Smith being the new Roy Keane? Whatever happened to Alan Smith being a Leeds legend who kissed your badge? Things change. He had some great games in the centre of midfield for us, namely our 1-0 victory over Chelsea who had gone 30 games unbeaten (and we had just lost 4-1 to Boro the week before!). That was some midfield too – Lampard, Essien, Makelele, Joe Cole. Essien got subbed off at half time because he didn’t get a sniff, which Mourinho commented on after the game. But he just wasn’t good enough. Worked hard and we loved him for it, but he just wasn’t good enough for United, sadly. We still haven’t found the new Keane, or the new Cantona… maybe some players just can’t be replaced. 6 ) No, we never quite replaced Cantona either (ARGH!!!) On a more personal note, I have a friend who comes from the outskirts of Liverpool and now lives in Leeds. In his entire life I don’t think he’s ever set foot in Manchester and he’s certainly never seen Manchester United play, but still calls himself a fan! That’s not a fan, is it!? I honestly find the idea of supporting a team from someone else’s city, who you never go and see play, as weird. I can’t imagine doing that. But it’s very easy for me to say that, as a lad born and bred in Manchester. If I lived in the middle of nowhere and if my local team was sh*t, would I support them? I hope so. But I can’t preach about glory fans because my local team is Manchester United, so it’s not like it’s hard work to support them. Would you support Leeds if they had been in Division Three when you first started getting interested in football? I think it’s pretty sad for people who are glory supporters, because I don’t think they’ll ever connect with the club the way locals do with their clubs, but as for whether it makes them fans or not, I think it is more difficult to define. 7 ) Glad you agree he’s a glory hunter! I can’t see you or Arsenal overcoming Chelsea this season. Their squads enormous and full of talented players that could get a place in anyones team. They’re champions in waiting surely? Champions in waiting? Hardly. United have been playing without any defenders, yet Chelsea are only two points ahead of us with a goal difference better by two. I think that is shocking and if the situations were reversed I would be wondering why the f**k we hadn’t raced ahead of Chelsea. What excuse do they have for dropping so many points? No key injuries, no particularly difficult fixtures, yet their advantage is tiny. Add to that they’ve yet to come to Old Trafford, they beat us in the most ridiculous of circumstances at Stamford Bridge, we are always much stronger in the second half of the season and they are about to lose their two best players to the ACoN. Nothing is in the bag yet but I’d rather our situation than anyone elses. 8 ) Alex Ferguson is knocking on a bit now and has nothing left to achieve really. Is retirement looming, and who would you like as his successor? Laurent Blanc and Pep Guardiola seem to be front runners at the moment. I’ve long tipped Blanc to the throne though and with every season does more to make himself a good shout. But Fergie’s got plenty of years left in him yet. Premiership managers seem to be having operations left, right and centre, but Sir Alex is fit as a fiddle and will continue to manage until his health changes. You say he has nothing left to achieve, but I think he’s always gagging for more trophies. Who wouldn’t want to win the European Cup three times? Who would want to win a twelve league titles? Thirteen? Fourteen? If you’re still capable of creating teams that will compete for honours, why on earth would you walk away from it? 9 ) Personally think Jose Mourinho will be your man. He wants to return to the Prem and I think Alex will view him as his natural successor. Moving on to the FA Cup clash. What kind of team should we expect on Sunday from Man United? Will Fergy give the youngsters and reserves a game, or will he field a full-strength side to try and avoid the kind of upset that would be a massive embarrassment for himself and your club? If he does field some reserve players or youngsters, who are the ones to watch? We’re all hoping he fields as strong a side as possible, that will dish out a huge thrashing, but that might be wishful thinking. We’ve got a semi-final three days later and a Premiership game three days after that, so we can’t afford to be playing our strongest teams. Hopefully the Da Silva twins will get a game – proper feisty pair of Brazilians who really like getting stuck in. Darron Gibson will most likely start and he tends to score screamers (LINK). Danny Welbeck and Macheda might play up front, although I wouldnt be too surprised to see Owen start up front and maybe Welbeck on the wing. Gabriel Obertan is a really pacey winger who has won the fans over straight away, it would be good to see him play. I imagine we’ll have a strong bench though, with players like Rooney and Scholes who can come on and change a game if necessary. To be truthful though, there’s no way in predicting Ferguson’s lineups anymore. 10) Why on earth did you smash little old Barnsley up and are you worried about the potential for trouble as Leeds and Manchester United renew their rivalry? I don’t know what it’s like in Division Three, but we have some horrible scrotes who want to get in the action on away days. Getting tickets for aways in almost impossible these days but Barnsley midweek was easy enough. So a load of them showed up, the kiosks decided it would be sensible to pull down the shutters and not serve beer to the people that had been waiting, and so stuff kicked off a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not nice, but we’ve all seen a lot worse. A bit of ketchup getting flung about and the till robbed? Hardly murder is it. Who’s worried about what Leeds are going to do though? Have the club said something? I have no doubt your lot will run riot in the away stand, this is the biggest game you’ve played for years, so of course people will get overexcited. Then we’ll send you and the FA the bill to clean it up, just like we did after the dippers got giddy with their Munich and Shipman graffiti in their FA Cup semi in 2006. 11) I think the Police will be worried for a start. I don’t envy the task they have ahead of them! Finally, what’s your prediction for the game? I predict Leeds players to kick us about the pitch, maybe even score, but for United to come good. It will be a good test for our younger players and I honestly hope the scoreline gets embarrassing – that is probably wishful thinking though. Leeds can’t lose either way in my opinion. In all honesty, you should beat us given that you’re two divisions higher and have a squad full of internationals. No ones expecting us to win, so it’s no major loss if we don’t. On the other hand, if we do pull off an upset, we’ll be hailed as heroes and you’ll suffer a massive embarrassment. Should be a great occasion either way. Cheers Scott.