The (United) Road Less Travelled

If you happened to miss it – and if you did, lucky you – David Moyes was this week relieved of his duties as the manager of Manchester United Football Club. The media frenzy that followed included Sky Sports suddenly turning into the 24-hour “David Moyes sacking channel”. I didn’t watch it, but I imagine that it probably involved lots of people talking about David Moyes. It is fairly safe to say that various pundits were sat around in the studio talking about David Moyes, while other people stood outside Old Trafford also talking about David Moyes. There may very well have been a great deal of speculation, some chat, a bit more speculation, a healthy dose of hype, some more speculation and the odd fact thrown in for good measure. I’m more than happy to speculate on just how much speculation there was.

What I love about stories like this, particularly in the internet age, is that everyone gets to chip in and have their say, regardless of whether they actually have a clue about football or indeed about anything at all. In a Facebook-based discussion that followed an online article about the sacking, someone had spammed the thread with one of those “A few months ago I lost my job but then I discovered this great website…” adverts. It was by far the funniest and most poignant comment on there.

I also liked this article by Nick Atkin at ESPN.co.uk. The article begins:

David Moyes’ stock among his Manchester United players is likely to have plummeted to a new low when they caught him reading a management self-help guide called “Good to Great” on the plane back from their insipid 2-0 Champions League defeat to Olympiakos in February.

The phrase “is likely” means “I can’t be bothered to research this properly, in fact I’m probably not even important enough to have access to Manchester United’s players, so I’ll just make something up and hope for the best”. Nevertheless, Atkin has a point. Reading books is a certain way to breed mistrust in your average Premier League footballer. And wanting to improve yourself… well, that is just beyond the pale.

I think this is my favourite bit of the article, however:

But getting his defenders to reportedly watch videos of his old Everton centre-back Phil Jagielka was simply ludicrous, if true. These players are serial winners – Jagielka doesn’t have a trophy to his name.

If true. IF TRUE. The cocaine and prostitutes reportedly enjoyed by Moyes on a nightly basis were scandalous, if true. Moyes arranging for his players to be abducted by aliens and subjected to painful enemas in order to flush out the “bad football disease” is shocking, if true. Phil Jagielka’s Everton will finish above “serial winners” Manchester United in this season’s Premier League, if true.

Oh wait, the last one really is true.

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