The recent death of respected Manchester Evening News journalist and long time United reporter David Meek brought about the deluge of tributes you’d expect for a writer who set a standard alien to many of the click bait mafioso at the paper today.
Meek was a revered as someone who reported on the club in an honest, insightful fashion that endeared him to not just the fans who read his writing but also the man at the helm of the club for the brunt of his tenure, Sir Alex Ferguson. Meek was far from a sycophantic yes man to Fergie, nor was he a fanzine-esque populist, he simply wrote it as he saw it. Imagine such lunacy nowadays?
One of the reasons Sir Alex respected Meek so much wasn’t that he was immune to criticism from the venerable reporter but in the words of the manager Meek’s job was “to tell the truth” and he did it without prejudice or bias. A shining example of Meek’s insightfulness was when his newspaper ran a phone-in poll during the summer of 1995 when Ferguson had overseen the sale of Andrei Kancheslskis, Paul Ince and Mark Hughes and was coming off the back of his first trophy-less season in six years. Meek read between the lines, when he saw that the majority voting though Fergie need to go, noting:
“The figures were presented to me to write the story but my view was that he didn’t deserve to be sacked, so I questioned how many Manchester City supporters had voted and how many United fans simply couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone because they were happy with him in charge.”
You have to wonder whether Meek would adopt a similar stance if he saw the results of a recent Twitter poll we ran on RedArmyBet asking fans if they believed it was time for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United to part ways. The results were overwhelming and unlike the Fergie poll over twenty years earlier, it’s highly unlikely City fans and United supporter’s apathy contributed to the outcome. Judging by recent results you’d expect most City fans would more likely want Mourinho to stay such is the current gulf between the two teams.
Over three quarters of those who took part argued they feel it’s time for Jose to leave Old Trafford, a pretty conclusive result, one that even the most ardent Mourinho supporters’ would struggle to dismiss as simply spoilt keyboard warriors sat in their bedrooms.
The football is poor, the results pitiful and the atmosphere around the club is putrid, is it any wonder the majority fans have had enough of forcing themselves to watch such inept drivel – we can expect a shockingly low crowd for tonight’s Champions League clash.
While a poll consisting of six hundred and sixty votes is highly unlikely to make the Old Trafford hierarchy start dishing out P45s, not to mention £12 million compensation cheques, the boos ringing out at the final whistle following Saturday’s drabfest against London’s fifth-best team won’t have gone unnoticed by the men upstairs.
Boos and polls are one thing, but a lack of revenue is another and the empty seats which are increasing in number at Old Trafford, plus the growing uncertainty over European, let alone Champions League football next season is unlikely to be treated with indifference. The owners need the cash cow to stay rich and healthy and a half-empty stadium playing host to only domestic games won’t give the Glazer’s the continuous fortunes they crave.
Mourinho and the Champions League
Mourinho’s future may well rest on the Champions League and whether it can offer him the sort of salvation it did to a lesser degree to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool last season, it’s easy to forget his free-scoring side actually managed to accrue less league points than a United team that finished so far behind City.
Another ‘plus’ point for Mourinho is the cost it would take to first of all sack him, which means a hefty compensation package following the somewhat bizarre decision to offer him a new deal during the last campaign, plus the money needed to hire a new manager, which again could entail more compensation to their club if they’re currently employed.
The club are unlikely fork out around £30 million to get rid of Mourinho and bring in say a Mauricio Pochettino – unless Daniel Levy had developed a real Christmas spirit and decides to just let him go for nothing, but let’s face it there’s more chance of Fred reaching 50 United games this season than that happening. There’s always the option of a caretaker boss until a longer-term option is found, but that option brings its own uncertainty and is simply sticking a plaster over a bullet wound rather than the surgery our team really needs.
The fans may have spoken and the results, like the ones on the pitch, may be damning, but the likelihood is United and Mourinho could be stuck with one another for the foreseeable future so it may just be a case of getting behind the team whatever you feelings towards the manager.
Even during David Meek’s 37 years covering the Reds, other than the relegation season of 1973/74, it’s unlikely he had to endure performances as lacklustre as some of the one’s we’re witnessing at the minute and polls or no polls that simply has to change, before it’s too late.