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Soup of This Day #373: Getting A Bad Reputation In Your Neighbourhood

April 23, 2014

Old Trafford
The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand at Manchester United’s Old Trafford home. That stand casts a shadow. A shadow that has eyes that follow you around – Photo: André Zahn, 1992. André Zahn is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I’m looking for a new job.

There’s nothing sinister in that – I’m soon to reach the end of my current contract and feel like I’ve achieved what I wanted to in that role. Therefore I’m spending a fair amount of time pouring over the want-ads so that I can find something that somebody will pay me to do.

Sadly, it’s likely not to be writing.

Unfortunately the debut novel that I’m yet to actually write has understandably failed to sell, while advertising income from this blog has not yet returned so much as a single cent.

This last is mostly because I have continued with a policy of not having any overt advertising on this blog, leaving you, the reader, to sort of imagine your own adverts based, I hope, on stuff you might actually need. If for instance you needed your lawnmower fixed, then you’d read my blog, imagine a repair shop that would do the job spot on, preferably without trying to sell you a new lawnmower, and then you’d go and find them.

So far, business has not embraced this approach, and neither has my sister-in-law – J, if you read this, can we have our mower back and working please? We’re going to lose 1 of the kids in the back yard grasslands soon and then you’ll be bad Auntie J and that won’t be in a cool bad way either.

In summary: I’m not making any money from this writing thing and my grass needs cutting.

That last bit isn’t too worrisome as I could just acquire a grazing animal, such as a goat. A lack of money will be more significant, particularly as I don’t know how to milk a goat – We have a mortgage, a car loan and 2 kids to feed. We can probably stall the bank but those kids are serious players who do not like you missing a payment on the vig.

Yeah, I need to be finding some new work. So too soon might a fellow called David Moyes.

Moyes is, as I write this sentence, the manager of Manchester United. The problem is that he hasn’t been as good at that role as those associated with Manchester United had hoped, and so there is a pretty good chance that he will be looking for another gig by the time I finish this post, not too many sentences in the future.*

The thing is though that David Moyes is not a bad manager. True, he’s not a cool bad manager either, which may be a part of the problem. Instead Moyes is a canny but solidly likeable guvnor, who across a decade at the helm of Manchester United’s English Premier League (EPL) rivals Everton, managed to threaten the upper echelons without actually winning anything of note.

This was not the case for Moyes’ immediate predecessor, Alex Ferguson, who across 26 years in the role won 13 EPL titles plus a few other cups and baubles to boot. Fergie achieved all of this with a cache of great players, some of whom were purchased out of Manchester United’s deep pockets, and an attitude that could be described as gruffly irascible if I was being kind.

I’m not disposed towards being kind to Alex, mostly because the sour bastard wasn’t seemingly disposed towards being kind to the press or even his own players. Or David Moyes for that matter – For Fergie left Moyes with something of a poisoned chalice – 1 fashioned out of implosively radioactive material.

Basically, when he took over for this season, David Moyes was on a hiding to nothing. Manchester United were somewhat fortunate champions last term, winning in spite of an aged roster. This season they were, as per the conventions of time, even more aged, and thus, as per the conventions of luck, were a lot less fortunate. The result has been a cataclysmic implosion, the likes of which every other club has suffered at some time or another, but which has rocked Manchester United to the very core of whatever passes for a football soul these days.

They’ve fallen to 7th, a position they may not improve on across the final 3 games of this season. This, to be fair to their wailing fans, is a big deal, at least financially. If you finish in 7th in the EPL you miss out on the lucrative Champions League. You also miss out on the lower profile Europa League and all of this missing out means less games and less spotlight. This has a flow on effect – Sponsors might shy away, while prospective players may well shun the lesser billings that a non-European season will engender. If there isn’t a rapid turn-around then a disastrous season could be just the forerunner to a barren spell, a lethargic slide into relative league obscurity.

Which is where Manchester United were from roughly 1969 until 1993. Many have noted that this period included the 1st 6 or so years of Alex Ferguson’s reign. Indeed in his 1st season on the job Alex had his 1986/87 incarnation of Manchester United finish in 11th. He repeated that dose in 1987/88 and was reportedly not far from being given the boot. He survived though and was able to usher in a golden era for his club. A golden era that fortuitously coincided with a massive hike in returns from TV deals.

David Moyes has not got the same level of patience gifted to him. Whether it’s a reflection of the modern desire to have it all and to have it now, or perhaps it’s because Manchester United’s fans have lost the ability to handle losing, the Old Trafford faithful have seemingly not taken to Moyes. This has at times verged on the ridiculous – A few weeks ago some fans raised £840 to have a plane fly a banner over Old Trafford as Manchester United hosted Aston Villa. That sign shouted:


True, a decent proportion of the Old Trafford crowd responded with pointed applause for the beleaguered Moyes. Some of them may have even spotted the irony in protesting against Moyes as his 7th-placed United were playing (And convincingly beating) relegation-threatened Villa, especially given that the latter’s fans had failed to fly their own banner demanding the ousting of Villans manager, Paul Lambert.

Possibly because they figured that if you’re going to the trouble of hiring a plane then there is more important stuff that can be aerially advertised. Stuff like:

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray, South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio, Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television, North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe. Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom, Brando, ‘The King and I’ and ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen, Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye, Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev, Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc, Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron, Dien Bien Phu falls, ‘Rock Around the Clock’, Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team, Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland, Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev, Princess Grace, ‘Peyton Place’, trouble in the Suez. Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac, Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball, Starkweather homicide, children of thalidomide, Buddy Holly, ‘Ben Hur’, space monkey, Mafia, Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go, U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy, Chubby Checker, ‘Psycho’, Belgians in the Congo. Hemingway, Eichmann, ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’, Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, British Beatlemania, Ole Miss, John Glenn, Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex, JFK, blown away.

What else do I have to say?

Apart from this:

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again, Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock, Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline, Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan, “Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide, foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz, hypodermics on the shore, China’s under martial law, rock and roller cola wars.

A banner telling a 1st-term football manager to quit because his team is only slightly above average kind of pales into insignificance against all of that epic stuff. Just how insignificant can be emphasised by examining that list – At least 13 of the people or organisations in it would probably have dealt with a plane towing a critical banner by shooting it down messily.

It’s a serious list.

Even if I did take it from a 1989 Billy Joel song.

Yep, all of that stuff was what was occupying people, or at least people like Billy Joel, back in 1989 when they could have been agitating for the sack of Alec Ferguson, before he got successful. Instead Billy and Co. let the man be.

It’s a shame that others today haven’t followed the example of Billy Joel when it comes to David Moyes.

Because, given time and support, Moyes would have done alright at Old Trafford – He had form at Everton and Manchester United aren’t that different from the Merseyside outfit when it comes down to it. Sure, they’re a ‘bigger club’ but that matters for nought on the pitch where you can only fit 11 of your players at a time. This was not about football.

As for Moyes, well he’ll be ok – There are plenty of clubs out there looking for a gaffer of his ilk and he’s hardly likely to be financially bereft for any period of time.

Hopefully the same can be said for me. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, albeit mostly in applying for jobs that aren’t about writing, and if all else fails I figure on printing out a banner:


Then I’ll hire myself a plane and have that sign flown over a football match or 2 – Maybe this overt advertising thing could pay off after all.

*Moyes was fired roughly 16 sentences later.

Getting A Bad Reputation In Your Neighbourhood

  1. Good luck with the job hunt. I have one but desire a new one. Indeed, I am well aware the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. I am also aware our grass needs mowed. It miraculously appeared several weeks ago after a couple months of hiding under the ice. It is growing once I hope to in my undermined new job. We are also considering relocating as part of a new job hunt…just like David Moyes is now. (Brilliant asterisk use indicating the sentences he was fired at/within the writing of the post)

    • Good to read that the grass is back after a cold winter – An apt metaphor for a job hunt. Hopefully there’s also a thaw in your job situation soon – Relocation is also an option for us – A move to the country is on the cards. Can’t see David Moyes doing that.

      Thanks for reading & commenting. Always good to get the Philly perspective!

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