‘My Old Man Said Be a United Fan’
When the fixtures come out for a forthcoming season, Aston Villa vs Manchester United is the first fixture I look for. United are the team my dad Paul ‘The Old Man’ of My Old Man Said supports. Living in different cities, it’s become something of a tradition to meet up and go to the game together. A regular in the Stretford End back in the days of Best, Law and Charlton, a younger Old Man had to suffer a long wait before United became the force again they were in his youth. Since this dark dawn, Villa’s record against United has been shocking (although it’s all part of the deal I made with the devil in arranging to see Villa beat United at Wembley in 1994). But, to be honest, Villa’s record against United, when we’ve watched games together isn’t too bad. Well, apart from suffering watching Villa get knocked of several FA Cups sitting next to him. Anyway, over to the Old Man…for a must read…
Last season Villa were woeful against United a Villa Park, as you’ll remember we saw about 7 or 8 Villa lads bugger off at half-time to go to the pub to watch the rest of the game. But the fact is United weren’t too great either – only 1-0 and Heskey could have equalised, if only he knew how to shoot. Also, United should have never have surrendered the title last season. Have the signings in the summer sorted things out or are there still problem areas?
I wanted to go with them ! To be fair to Heskey, United did only get a thrown in out of it. Love the Villa ‘If Heskey scores we’re on the piss’ song…although singing the same one about Van Persie is getting me down the pub a lot more !
United did throw it away. A lot is said about the Everton game (more below) being the one that cost us, but playing defensively v City away, the awful display v Wigan away and losing at home to Blackburn (more below) were just as bad.
I think Van Persie is a great signing. Kagawa looks good. Still missing that Toure type player. Don’t think Cleverley is the answer, great energy but little end result so far. Great to see Fletcher back, he was that man, but glad they refused his request to play in brown shorts. Finally, and United fans will not enjoy reading this, we have to stop playing Scholes (one of the greats) and Giggs. I understand SAF wanting someone his own age to talk to, but we play at a much higher tempo without them. They slow it down. Sticking my neck out, I think it will be between United and Chelsea. A lot depends on the game at Old Trafford …and if Clattenburg is ref, we’ll be ok.
Top keepers have always been a mainstay to successful United teams of Fergie, but your pet hate David ‘Doughnut Stealer‘ De Gea hasn’t really been the solution. Will he come good or will they have to look elsewhere?
Where do I start ? Forget the name for a moment, what do you say about any keeper that is poor in the air and tries to save the majority of shots to his right with his feet…and misses more often than not ? In the Everton game (4-4) last season, he could have saved the last 2 goals (wrong way, attempt to save with feet for the 4th) and simply gave away the winning Blackburn goal. Already this season we’ve had the calamity v Fulham and 2 further attempts to save with his feet v Newcastle and Braga, plus the Wigan goal at home. United fan or not, I honestly do not think he is a good keeper. Apart from his haircut he’s probably a nice guy but he needs to get back to basics. I hope he improves, but to me he’s our worst keeper behind Roche and Taibi.
Are there any keepers in the Premiership that you rate?
I like Tim Howard at Everton. Bloke at Newcastle looks good. Watched your guy Guzan in the last couple of games. Made some good saves and not afraid to come out for crosses which is good. Looks like Reina has finally been rumbled at Scouseland.
You’ve seen a few United teams in your time from the Best, Law, Charlton days to the present, which was your personal favourite and why?
Like a lot of people, has to be the team from my mid teens, 1965 – 68. As you know I saw a fair amount of those games. Heart in my mouth when we defended, after all we had De Stepney in goal some of that time, but going forward was something else, thanks to the three guys in question. I remember a game at Wednesday in 68 when they scored after a few minutes, United were 4-2 up at half time. Law (2), Charlton and Best all scored typical goals. Amazing stuff…no cameras ! Didn’t realise when i saw us pick up the old trophy against Stoke in ’67, it would be 26 bloody years before we did it again.
Most of the games I attended in the early 70’s were with a mate called ‘Rusty’, who’s claim to fame was getting three months after some bother at Derby. He pleaded not guilty until the court produced MOTD footage showing him clubbing the other guy with a corner flag!
I also enjoyed the Tommy Doc two years in Division One and the 1994-96 team. I do, of course , remember that you stopped us doing the treble in ’94. Thought I’d add that before you did!
The team I would like to have seen is the one which resulted in me supporting United, the Busby Babes. It’s actually true that I started supporting United after my old man read me the Munich Story from the BBC Sportsview Annual, whilst I was ill in hospital. Still remember the scouse kid in the next bed who running around the ward with his arms out…
Favourite United player and why?
Has to be Best, just beating Law. If there were TV cameras then as now, there would be no doubt, if any, as to how good he was. Unfortunately, the others were getting older when he hit his peak. He had no Barca type midfield behind him and had to do his own fetching and carrying….add that to going to and from the bar all night, no wonder he was knackered by 26 !
Paul McGrath would be in my top 5 no fail. Simply great. Love the story about Bryan Robson escaping a flying Fergie pub visit in the boot of a car, but what is not mentioned, is that McGrath was in the car behind. What a player, but you Villa guys know that.
Apart from standing with the Villa away fans at Old Trafford, when Villa finally beat United in 2009 at Old Trafford after 26-years of trying, what’s been your most memorable Villa vs United game?
Well, that one is hard to forget, but seeing the state you were in on returning to my place after the ’94 league cup final sticks in the memory. See below.
Favourite Villa vs United game we’ve seen together?
It has to be the 1988, 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Call me sentimental, but it was the first United v Villa together.
Should Vidic have been sent off at Wembley in the League Cup final of 2010 when he gave away the early penalty?
I seriously cannot remember the incident that well, but do recall thinking we were lucky at the time. If he was last man, he should have gone. Was he ? [He sure was!]
You obviously know the Villa Park saying, ‘I f***ing hate United’ due to United’s numerous get out of jail/Fergie time escapes against Villa over the years. Which was your personal favourite?
Has to be the 2004 FA cup game at Villa Park, the collective ‘oh f***’ from the Villa supporters when Keane and Van Nistelrooy warmed up as subs was amazing.
In terms of Villa, first up, what’s the best Villa team you’ve seen?
Has to be the ’81 title winners. Great to watch.
What do you reckon of Paul Lambert’s approach and Villa’s start to the season so far? He’s not going for a quick fix through spending, but do you think his old-fashion approach of buying in young players and trying to create ‘a team’ will pay off?
Well, anything has to be better than the 9-0-1 played last season. I was hoping the team would stay up and Big Ginge would go down. Guess that happened …!
I like that he has a plan and is sticking to it. Reading your article on the site earlier about the comparisons with Fergie’s early days and, all joking aside, like Lambert he had no real money to spend but knew what he wanted. I think Lambert is the same. I also think the good message he is sending Leaner is that he will bring on the kids but if he needs to spend, then it will be needed and spent wisely. I think it will pay off and the youngsters experience is building each game. I watched the Sunderland game on the internet and there were times when Villa looked good. Hopefully the fans, and especially the board, can give him time. I think it will pay off.
A few Villa players have complained that the team doesn’t have any star players anymore and the only ‘big name’ player Darren Bent is on the bench. Who’s the best current Villa Player for your money?
I must admit to being puzzled that he’s not played Benteke & Bent together. Thought they would frighten most teams. Has Bent upset Lambert ? Vlaar and Holman look good buys, as does Benteke. I think in some cases Lambert has bought for now, to stabilise, assist the kids, and would not necessarily buy the same type of player again in the future, as the team progresses.
In my eyes, the best Villa player should be Gabby. Potential…what happened ? Maybe the goal last week will set him off on a good run…starting next week of course !
How do you see Villa’s season panning out?
I am sure Villa will stay up, no doubt about it and they will definitely finish higher than where they are now.
Some things in life just have to be…for purely personal reasons, as someone who loves the Villa Park atmosphere, Aston Villa v United at least twice a season is one of them.
And what would be a successful season in your eyes in terms of United?
Have to say, starting to think we could win the league now. If we can continue to play at the high tempo we’ve been back to in the last few games, we should be OK. Just a niggle that we haven’t actually destroyed anyone yet and whether it’s in us, but hopefully it will come. Champions League ? Starting to look more even with Barca and Real results of late.
Do you think Villa will qualify for the Champion’s League in your son’s life time or actually win anything (lets say, I have a few decades in me yet!)?
Who told you I had a son of five somewhere? Seriously, of course it’s possible but more likely to be in 10 yrs than five. I really hope Villa are on their way back.
Prediction for the match?
Has to be a United win. I mentioned above that we haven’t destroyed anyone yet and I hope it doesn’t happen on Sat, but I reckon we’ll win 3-1. Remember, pressure in the air and shoot to his right…you should score !
PS – Have you forgiven Villa for 1957 yet?
Buying you the ’57 final shirt was supposed to exorcise the ghost. I remember the last shirt I bought you before that was a United ’76 style, way before you discovered Villa. Didn’t your Mum burn that after the divorce, in the same ritual involving my wax effigy and some pins?!
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid
* The lead picture is when George Best turned out for Villa in 1985, in a friendly vs West Brom. Three of the Villa 1982 immortals Gordon Cowarns, Gary Williams and Alan Evans.