When I was a kid, Britpop was a cultural phenomenon not an embarrassing chapter of the UK’s musical history.
Like many youths of the day I bought a guitar thinking my years served playing the triangle in school assemblies had set me well for picking up this instrument with ease. It sounded amazing when the lad at work I bought it off played it, so obviously it’d do the same for me.
The season of David Moyes taught me that owning and being able to play a musical instrument are two different things.
When I sold the guitar on it was to someone far more capable of making it sound like it should than I’d ever be, this is true of Manchester United’s decision to hand the squad over to a man as capable as Louis van Gaal. In his hands this instrument will once again be played beautifully, it’ll once again be used to entertain audiences and deliver performances that are raved about.
It would be foolish to think LVG can take ownership of this instrument and make it play as he wants from day one, he can get the odd tune out of it, at times he can attempt to break out the odd arena band solo on it, but the risk of the kit failing to stand up to that level of use is huge (I give you Leicester away as evidence that when he gave his attackers the opportunity to win him the game, his defenders weren’t strong enough to defend the counters that such attacking plans left us open to) that’s a situation that requires some serious time to resolve.
So rightly or wrongly, after the defeat to Arsenal. I’d decided this season was going in the cupboard and written off as a wasted adventure, just as my guitar did with the 6 easy chord Oasis songbook did back in the day, but just as my interest in playing was reignited by mastering Wonderwall (and Dya know what I mean if you changed the strumming pattern), my hope for the season was restored by the result and performance against Spurs. Our defense looked like a solid unit who each knew their individual & collective roles in keeping Spurs at bay, the midfield options were playing the best I’d seen of a United line up in years, movement, speed, distribution & pressing, Spurs couldn’t handle us from the first whistle to the last.
It couldn’t get any better I thought, Liverpool will no doubt prove that it was a one off, this is after all the greatest squad to have ever played the game according to the British press/Scouse mafia, they’re quicker, stronger, better technically, that they’d win wasn’t even in doubt, it was just the size of the victory margin that was open for debate in their eyes ahead of the game, so how chuffed was I when LVG’s tactical set up and his players application of ensured that the only thing in the eyes of those pundits at full time were tears.
It was beautiful, we went to their place, a fortress, a canvas on which their superior players were going to perform pass and move art that would leave us speechless, but no, we had the great pleasure of doing exactly that to them, when we had the ball we had them chasing shadows with our movement & distribution, when they had it we pressed them with such energy and commitment the hallmarks of their game that the press believed would be the undoing of us were neutralized, they offered as much threat as ironing offers enjoyment, it was one of those days where my envy level for away day reds went through the roof.
It may have taken Louis van Gaal some time to get the best out of the instrument he was handed this summer, but my (insert religious leader as appropriate), he’s certainly playing it well now, if he continues this level of improvement into and beyond the summer, then it won’t before it’s getting played beautifully on the biggest and best of stages once again!