FAN OF THE MONTH - NATHAN BURCH
Hi, my name is Nathan Burch and I’m an IT sales professional. I currently resides in the town of Milton, Ontario with my wife and son (who’s middle name is Manchester). I was pushing for it as his first name but my wife would not go along with that, so I had to take what I could get.
My passion for United started with Eric Cantona. I was in high school at the time and access to what was happening in European football was not as prevalent as it is today. I don’t recall how it started but I do remember having a poster of Cantona and a couple of printouts, and newspaper articles about him in my locker. Friends would ask, and I’d be more than happy to talk about what I knew. As I was following Cantona, I started to watch United when I could and then began doing research on the club. What really drew me in was reading about the Munich air disaster and the resiliency the club showed to come back from such a devastating event to win the European Cup a decade later. Something about that story really clicked with me and I just kept growing more passionate about the club over time.
Having a young son, I normally watch the matches at home. He’s typically by my side singing Glory, Glory Man United. Back in the mid to late 2000s, I used to venture down to the Main Event to watch at the supporters club, but haven’t done so in a while. Hopefully as my son gets a bit older I’ll be able to get down to the city and join the rest of the gang!
Although my passion for the club started with Cantona, my favourite player has to be Paul Scholes. I always admired Scholes for the way he was able to dictate a match all the while making it look easy and simple. His ability to have such an impact without any of the flash moves, or need to be in the media is something I admired.
I’ve seen United live 7 times thus far, 4 on preseason tour and 3 at Old Trafford.The first match I ever attended was United vs Barcelona in Philadelphia (2003), with a group of guys I was playing soccer with at the time. The great part about the match was that we were able to sneak down to the change rooms after the match and I was able to get a United kit autographed by the team. Was a great story with us sneaking in an elevator with a bunch of the United higher ups and ending up outside the change room with a bunch of media who were doing interviews with the players. I recall having to tell one of the interviewers who some of the players were and some questions that might be relevant. We eventually got found out and were removed from that area but I got a pretty extensive autograph set including Sir Alex! Was a great way to see my first match. Other preseason matches I’ve been to include matches against AC Milan (New Jersey 2004), Celtic (Toronto 2010) and Barcelona (Washington 2017)
My first match at Old Trafford was a trip coordinated by MUSCC and was truly a dream come true. I’d been wanting to go ever since my passion for United started and I can still recall the chills I got after getting off the tram. I actually submitted this story to the Manchester United website and it was featured some years ago. The match was on December 6th 2006 and was the last of the group stages that year. United went on to beat Benefica 3-1 and topped the group. We followed that up by going to the Manchester derby where United once again prevailed 3-1.
A couple of years later I was back to see Chelsea visit Old Trafford, which was a massive match and I recall how worried I was when I saw Fletcher and Giggs starting in the middle of the pitch. I don’t believe I’ve yelled as much, for as long, in my life. Chelsea had become a challenger after Mourinho and were one of our key rivals but we handled them well that day going out 3-0 winners with Vidic, Rooney and Berbatov scoring.
Unfortunately I haven’t been back to Old Trafford since that match but definitely will be heading back in the future! Looking back at the matches I’ve been able to attend, I’ve been very fortunate to see so many great players!
My biggest thrill was that first time going to the Theatre of Dreams and seeing United. It truly was an out of this world experience. I’ll never forget that first time stepping off the tram and floating down Warwick Rd toward OT. It was as if my feet never touched the ground and I just marvelled at the ground. A dream I’d had many times finally coming true!
Outside of that first visit to OT, my biggest thrill would have to be the 2008 Champions League win. The mid 2000s is when I truly was engrained in everything about the club. At that point I was not missing a match no matter what and lived and died by every match, injury, bad decision etc and it all culminated with that win! I remember being at my apartment of the time, watching the match by myself and feeling completely depressed as Terry stepped up to the penalty spot. Then we all know what happened next! When van der Sar stopped Anelka’s penalty I went absolutely nuts and ended up spraying champagne inside my apartment. When my girlfriend (now wife) got home she couldn’t believe what I’d done but I forced her to drive me down to the Main Event. By the time we got down there most of the crowd had dispersed, but I was still elated!
Obviously 1999 was massive as well but there was something about that 2008 season that just resonated for me personally. I’d witnessed that squad develop over the past couple of years, and also felt the deep pain of getting battered by Milan in the semi final the year prior. Then getting by that great Barcelona side in the semis and beating an English rival in the final was absolutely awesome!
Personally I went into last season with some high hopes, although being warned of Mourinho’s third season. We’d finished 2nd the year before and I thought we could build on that but we didn’t get the players we needed to move forward and Mourinho’s attitude turned. Once the results were inconsistent you just knew it’d be a difficult season. Although Solskjaer gave us belief for some time, we fizzled out and went back to our true form and haven’t been able to break that since.
Looking back we probably should have done more in the summer transfer market and given Mourinho what he had requested, particularly a top CB. Once he was in a bad mood, the mood amongst the club dropped and the players were not responding which killed the season.
I do think that Ole has a plan to move the team forward, however I’m not certain it is the right plan or that the club will have the patience to follow that plan through. The squad was pretty bloated after years of different managers signing different players for their individual playing styles. Ole has done well to reduce the number of players, particularly many that were not making the match day squad. Now we are at a point where the squad is quite thin so he’ll need the support of the club to bring in key players in key positions, if he has any shot at getting back to winning ways.
Tactically we continue to struggle against sides that sit deep and seem to have no answer other than hoping for moments of brilliance or that players will suddenly evolve. This is a major concern for me with Ole’s direction as he continues to say that we’ll continue working on it and eventually the players will become goal scorers, etc.
At this point of the season, and seeing the way we are playing I’d say that we will have done well to be in the Europa League next season. Whenever anyone above us drops points we are never able to take advantage. Based on recent performances I don’t have very high expectations for the rest of the season and think we’ll likely finish in 6th or 7th position in the table.
I hold similar thoughts for the cup competitions, and am holding onto the fact that anything can happen in either the Europa or FA Cup but currently just don’t feel that we have it in us this season.
All I can say is that I hope that the team can prove me wrong with my predictions above and we can find some form when we have a healthy squad. Untied has been a very big part of my life and will continue to be in the future. Having started supporting United in the glory days of Sir Alex’s tenure, it’s been difficult to witness the drop in performance on the field since, but I’ll continue to cheer the team on every match!
Best regards Nathan
FAN OF THE MONTH - ANDY CUE
Hi my name is Andy Cue and I'm currently living in Toronto. I work in the music industry, as a music producer, as well, I am the owner of a record label called ‘Intake Music’.
I became a United fan when I was about 6 years old. A family friend of ours had roots in the Salford area in the UK. Each time they would visit back home, they always brought back memorabilia and collectables for me, knowing that I was just a young soccer player at the time. It started with an oversized jersey that I wore almost everyday at school, to autographs, magazines, and toothbrushes. The next step was waking up every Saturday morning to replace my cartoons with Man United matches. I still have every piece of memorabilia that was given to me.
My favorite United player was Paul Scholes, simply because of his calm decision making skills, laser cut passes across the pitch and of course the way he was able to strike the ball from outside the 18 yard box. As I grew up playing soccer, I would try to emulate Paul Scholes with powerful long range shots.
My biggest thrill as a fan was witnessing the courageous season of 2011, when Man United surpassed Liverpool with their 19th title. There were some amazing goals that season, most notably Wayne Rooney's bicycle kick against Man City to win the match.
I've been to a North American pre-season match against Celtic here in Toronto. However, just 2 months ago, I had finally made it a Birthday gift to myself to visit Old Trafford with 2 of my closest friends. I had convinced them to travel with me and join me for the match even though they weren't big soccer enthusiasts, let alone Man United fans. We managed to catch the match against Arsenal on September 30th. I still remember the feeling of walking into the Theatre of Dreams, ‘goose bumps’ of excitement made
me feel like a kid again as the pitch unfolded in my view as we approached our seating area. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, but I'll never forget the amazing experience of being surrounded by the Man United faithful. The amazing experience was made possible by MUSCC's Graham Page, assisting me on arranging these tickets, which I appreciate immensely.
There are several issues with the team right now which consist of lack of strength in the midfield, lack of goals from our attack and ego's. There is a lack of creativity and flair in their style of play. We as fans have been used to watching risk takers, and players that play with heart and pride for the club. Lately I've noticed players with no emotion in their efforts, and it's as if they show up for work just to punch in and punch out. That's just my opinion of course.
I feel it's important to have a balance of both “academy” and mature players. If United want to compete for the top of the table, they need to stay active in the transfer market to keep up with the top clubs in Europe but youth is always important. We have a great history of developing young players, and that’s what makes United what it is. They go hand in hand.
I think Europa League honors is attainable again, but United must really come together and show that they can still win trophies.
Aside from the bumps and bruises Man United have taken on in the last few years, I hope the fans can remain confident for good things to come. Thanks for having me on as the Fan of The Month, I'm honoured to share my experiences with MUSCC.
FAN OF THE MONTH - CURTIS WAKEFIELD
My name is Curtis Wakefield.I am currently living in Edmonton, Alberta and I work for Bell Canada.I work on the mobility side and do corporate sales for larger companies and gov’t organizations.
I have been a United supporter as long as I can remember. My family is originally from Manchester so it was almost genetic that I would be a United fan.Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was a great transition period for the club and really pounded home the pride of being a United supporter.
I have been to Old Trafford a few times but sadly not been able to line it up for a Liverpool game. That is for sure is a “bucket list” item.But I have also been fortunate enough to watch United play on some of my travels. In Barcelona , (sadly a 1-0 loss),as well as multiple times on the USA tours.Seattle, Toronto, New York & Chicago I think are all of them over the years.
Who is my all time favourite player? This is a tough questions, I actually have a United tattoo and I chose to have a #7 integrated onto the Devil’s back, but it was more for the history of the # as opposed to one player.But Cantona, Beck’s and Ronaldo are three good options for the number….last few #7’s haven’t done it justice for sure.But honestly, overall I would have to say my favorite to watch was Roy Keane, his passion and drive were truly amazing.
I think, like most United fans my biggest thrill was probably the ‘99 win over Bayern.Other ones that really stand out though were the 20th league title in 2013 and the penalty win in Moscow over Chelsea (thanks John Terry)!And for some reason the thrashing we gave Roma in Rome has always stuck out in my mind, I remember just being in disbelief how good we played that one game.
What’s wrong with the current squad?Oh man, this could be a novel of items but I will try keep it simple.It’s the style of play for the squad we have built…basically. When Ole’ first came he had no worries, and we were attacking opponents right from the opening whistle and not relenting, Then, once he had signed his contract he took his foot off the gas. We don’t have a good enough “back four” and holding “Mids’ to allow others to control the game…
We are weak up front for sure right now without any true finishers. I like the Maguire & AWB signings in the back, but our midfield is porous. Despite a great finish last week McTominay has to go. Matic is too slow now and we let. Herrera leave for nothing. Engine Room needs re-stocking.
I don’t foresee any Silverware this year….maybe the League cup if the draw’s go in our favor, but our depth is not strong enough for the other teams who want to win it more.PL is a non factor this year sadly and FA Cup will for sure be to tough.Maybe with some transfer window replenishments we can make a push in one of the Cup’s but sadly I foresee a long tough season.
I am still proud to be a United Fan and despite the dip in form the last few seasons, I know we will get back to the top of English/European football!Best regards to all United fans.
FAN OF THE MONTH - WILL THOMPSON
Hi My name is Will Thompson and I live in Vancouver, BC. I currently work for the City of Vancouver in the Engineering Department.
I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for most of my youth and was given a Hearts shirt as a child and even went to watch them play occasionally. I soon came to my senses though and realized Scottish football was a weaker product of the league down south in England. I became fan when Ron Atkinson managed United but was obviously thrilled in 1986 to see a Scotsman (Alex Ferguson) take over from a ‘scouser’... My father hated football preferring rugby instead. In probably the only game we watched together (England v Greece) he claimed a Beckham free-kick for England in the last minute was staged, as he’d missed several earlier in the game. So my love for United certainly doesn’t come from him.
I watch the majority of the games, when work allows, at the Lamplighter pub in Vancouver. Midweek games can be tough to get to but I’ll be down rain or shine, 4.00 am or later to enjoy the match shouting at the TV with my fellow supporters. The wife gets annoyed if I do that at home for some reason. They had a competition a few years back to design a logo for our supporters club, which I was fortunate enough to win. It’s great seeing the merch every year with my logo on incorporating the devil and the lamp. They have some decent prizes too, I won a signed Rooney photo this year at the end of season party.
I’ve been to several games at Old Trafford and love the atmosphere. There was one game I attended, United v Stoke in 2012. Not a classic game, we won 2-0 with two penalties. The thing that stuck out was an announcement on the Everton v City game which was also being played... We’d just sold Darren Gibson to Everton and he’d got the winner, as quick as a flash a chant went round - “Fergie, sign him up, Fergie, Fergie, sign him up.” The chants are so clever and quick thinking sometimes. I’ve travelled to see united play in Seattle in 2015 and then again in San Jose in 2017. Never quite the same atmosphere as O.T. but much easier to get to and well, it’s United.
Choosing my favorite player is a difficult one but it has to be Giggs for me, even though I share a birthday with Beckham. Giggs was a one club man and won so many honours. He adapted so well later in his career to come inside and then that goal against Arsenal in the FA cup! Wish I’d have seen Best play though. As Fergie put it - “as natural and relaxed as a dog chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind".
My biggest thrill has to be the ’99 Champions League. A group of us had decided to watch the game in a hotel. I was still celebrating the first goal that I missed the second one. I ran back in the room thinking it was a reply or something. What a year that was. And Fergie's quote - “Football, bloody ‘ell”
I’m optimistic and I like what Ole is trying to do, playing with the youth players. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough. I feel we’re a little short in certain areas and I think we might have to sacrifice the Europa League if we want a high league finish. Great to get off to such a good start and I hope it continues unlike the Van Gaal season that started similar.
I’m pleased with the team’s performance so far , given the small amount of time we’ve seen of them. I was so happy to see Daniel James score on his debut and if you know his backstory, it must have meant so much to him. You’d have a heart of stone not to be pleased for the lad. AWB and Harry fitted in perfectly in the back four and both put in ‘Star’ performances. It’s been so long since we had a reliable back four and I hope they can stay injury free and improve as the season goes on. We only had two clean sheets at OT last season, hopefully we will be getting more shutouts this time around.
I guess time will tell whether Ole is up for the big time but we are certainly off to a good start. He’s had a lot of criticism about the end of last season and some transfers, but a 4-0 win on the first game is a great way to answer those critics. The support staff around him should help in the areas he’s lacking but we desperately need a Director of Football. Best regards to United Fans everywhere.
FAN OF THE MONTH - UROS CRNOMARKOVIC
Hi, my name is Uros Crnomarkovic and I live in Toronto. I work for the TDSB as a caretaker .
I first became a Manchester United fan in 2008 when the great Nemanja Vidic arrived at United and formed a solid central defence with Rio Ferdinand for the next several years. He was one of the best players our club has ever seen especially when it comes to defending. He really made me love this team because he was a rock and he really intimidated opponents!
My all-time favourite United player though was Cristiano Ronaldo. I loved his quickness and strength as well as his agility with the ball. He was always a proper lad too! He has definitely proven himself in 3 of the worlds top 5 leagues and I find that very impressive.
My biggest thrill as a United fan was in January of 2017 when I attended a Manchester United Liverpool derby!. I was staying in London with relatives at the time and they managed to get me a ticket on one of the excursion buses which run up to Manchester every other week for games at O.T. The bus dropped us off near Old Trafford and we all went for a pre-match drink at the Gorse Hill Hotel on Chester Road. Eventually we left the Pub and walked back to Old Trafford. The anticipation was breathtaking as we could see the stadium in the distance. I had goose bumps all over when I went through the gates! It was so amazing and buzzing all match long! We had good seats in the south stand about ten rows from the front. As usual there was a full house of 78,000 fans and the atmosphere was electric. Liverpool scored first and carried the one goal lead well into the second half and then suddenly everyone went nuts when Zlatan equalized late in the game. After the game I went to the United Megastore and bought some mementoes of my first OT visit It was an amazing experience and I would love to do it again soon.
This has been a tough season for United and we need some new players. I personally think that we need two centre-backs to strengthen the central defence and a right-back to replace Valencia. As well, I think we might try for Sancho from Dortmund because he is an outstanding young player.
My feeling is that United will improve significantly next season if they strengthen the squad in a few key areas! I’m hoping to win the Premier League title and the FA Cup and make it to at least semis in champions league!
I think Ole is the best thing that could’ve happened to our club! I Love him and think he can build a winning team. ️
FAN OF THE MONTH - GARETH JONES
The Fan of the month will be posted in a slightly different format than usual. Normally, the fan would present a one or two page summary of their becoming a United Fan. In this instance however Gareth Jones has provided a lengthy 15 page narrative of his relationship with Manchester United and his Father who passed away in 2018.
This summary will introduce Gareth and mention a few highlights of his 46 years as a United Fan. The full 15 page story with much interesting detail will be posted on the website should the reader want to spend more time reading Gareth’s fascinating story. He emigrated to Canada in 1968 as a child and currently lives in Vancouver. He is a regular attender at the Lamplighter Pub where
Vancouver Red fans gather to watch the United matches.
It all really started for Gareth on August 12, 1972. Whilst on vacation in England eight year old Gareth went to Old Trafford with his Dad and Grandfather for his very first United game. “I was in amazement as we walked towards the ground, taking in all the sights and sounds of the buskers, vendors, religious fanatics with placards announcing the end of the world and the many food carts with the aroma of fried onions and burgers in the air. There was one particular vendor selling posters of the players. Dad was a Bobby Charlton fan while Grandpa’s favourite was Georgie Best so I got a poster of both of them!
I still have both posters to this day.”
In August,1979, Gareth went to England for a 5 week vacation and stayed with his Grandparents in Withington. He re-connected with his old friend Neil and together they went to a few United games. One day Neil confided that he knew where the great Sir Matt Busby lived on Kings Road Chorlton. The two boys decided to go and see if they could catch a glimpse of the great one.
“ We took the bus to Chorlton and sat outside Sir Matt’s house for quite a while and eventually we saw him come out of the house and get into his Mercedes. He drove right by us at which point we quickly decided to sprint after his car. He must have noticed us and pulled over. He rolled down the window and asked what we were up to. We said we were just wanting to say Hi and maybe get an autograph. He duly signed our books asking us our names so as to include them along with his signature. “ Sir Matt then very generously offered the boys a visit to Old Trafford.
“ Once at Old Trafford which was pretty quiet that day, Sir Matt parked the car and we walked into the stadium with him. Everyone obviously knew him and stopped to chat with him. Sir Matt told us that he had some work to do in his office and was there anything else we would like to do? It just so happened that we were very close to the entrance to the famous tunnel which the players ran down on match day onto the pitch. Neil cheekily asked if we could run down the tunnel. Sir Matt obliged and said ‘of course you can, go on then lads’. Which we did like a couple of lunatics. We didn’t go on to the pitch though, strictly forbidden, even in those days. When we walked back up the tunnel Sir Matt was gone. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were and ran all the way back to Withington to tell my Grandpa who we had met and where we had been.”
The last live United match that Gareth watched with his father was in Seattle, Washington, July 2003 when the Club were on a pre-season North American tour. The last game they watched together was the 2018 FA Cup Final shown on TV.
For further reading of the full article please click the link below.
Barrie J Saxton
FAN OF THE MONTH - STEPHANE SEGUIN
Hi, my name is Stephane Seguin and I am delighted to be the MUSCC Fan of the Month.
I currently live in Ottawa and I’m a public servant working for the Department of National Defence.
I first became a United fan in 1997 when I was living in Mississauga and was running a video distribution business. I didn’t know much about football but my business partner and roommate was a ‘Brit’ and I started watching and learning about the beautiful game with him. After a few months I decided to buy my first kit and I chose Manchester United because of ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ and their exciting attacking play and I’ve never looked back.
I have had several ‘Magic Moments’ as a fan… my first visit to OT in 2004, the crazy champion’s league finals of 1999 and 08 but my biggest thrill of all was being present at OT for Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever home game against Swansea on 12 May 2013. I had arranged a trip to England and bookended the trip with United games at OT. The trip didn’t start off so well with a 1-0 loss to Chelsea on 5 May (the game with the clash between David Luiz and Rafael where Raf ended up with a red card and Luiz was pictured on the ground grinning) although I still had a good time since I was sitting next to club brother Graham Page. After that match we continued on with our trip (a visit to Hadrian’s Wall and Islay for you Scots fans), during the midweek rumours started to swirl around that Sir Alex was going to retire and I was in complete shock. The confirmation of his retirement showed up in the papers on the Wednesday of that week and I suddenly realized that I had tickets to an historic event that I would remember forever. Not only would I be there for the presentation of our last premier league trophy but I would also be there for a monumental day in the history of our great club. I showed up at the stadium early to enjoy the atmosphere, bought a SAF scarf and headed into the stadium. The buzz was incredible and every fan had a 20 times champion flag on their seat (now considered a holy relic in my home). I remember singing SAF songs and the champions song with the fans all game long waving my flag, it was incredible. It looked like I was going to go through the trip winless but Rio popped up and scored the winner towards the end of the game to make the day absolutely perfect. After the match the team was presented with the premier league trophy and SAF said his goodbyes to the fans. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been present for this and as I’ve stated before I will remember that day my entire life.
My favorite player is Ryan Giggs. There was something about our welsh wizard that made me stand up almost every time he touched the ball. He was exciting to watch, quick, full of guile and football intelligence. My first ever united jersey was a Giggs and one of my prized possessions is an original green and gold jersey with Giggs on the back that I managed to purchase about 10 years ago.
I’ve been to Old Trafford to watch 3 matches so far. The first one was a 3-0 win against Fulham 22 March 2003 where Ruud scored a hat trick that game with his second goal being one of his best ever when he took the ball in the center circle and ran at the Fulham goal, blowing by all their defenders and tucked it in. As stated earlier I was also present for Chelsea and Swansea in 2013. I also attended the pre-season game against Celtic at Skydome with all my Toronto club mates which was a lot of fun. I plan on visiting Old Trafford on a bi-yearly basis in the future and look forward to basking in the OT atmosphere as often as I can.
I usually end up watching the games at home with a couple of United buddies that I’ve met over the years. I would love to have an Ottawa chapter of MUSCC so I could go watch all the games with my club member brothers and sisters but unfortunately no such place exists as of yet.
I think unfortunately that the firing of J.M. was due. After the first season where we won the Europa league and league cup, I was fully onboard and excited that we’d seemingly returned to our winning ways but as per his usual style, as it went on Mourinho poisoned the club and overstayed his welcome. The football the team was playing under Mourinho was not entertaining to watch and I found myself not caring about the games like I usually do, it started to feel very much like the boring days of LVGs “philosophy”. As time went on Mourinho became surly and negative in all his press comments, started slagging our players publicly and none of our stars were interested in renewing their contracts under the Mourinho cloud that settled over our club. There had been a regression in the club since his first year and very few of his signings have been successful long term. It was time to cut the negativity out of the club and I’m glad that they sacked him before too much damage was done.
Regarding the question of Ole becoming full-time manager, if you would have asked me on the day he was appointed I would have said no way. He had managed our reserves, an unsuccessful stint at Cardiff City and then Molde. In my opinion at the time he did not have the required experience to manage a club of the standing and size of Manchester United. Slowly but surely he has brought me around to the point where I think we would be crazy not to appoint him. He has surprised me to no end since his appointment. He has proven to be very media savvy, and he always says what a true Manchester United manager should say. He’s brought the smiles back to the players and the fans and his man management is obviously on point looking at the response from the players. As of today we have just beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup to make it 8 wins out of 8 and the most impressive thing of all is that the matches were played in United style which is something I haven’t seen since the last match I attended against Swansea in 2013. He has the right attitude, United in his blood, good man management and excellent tactics so far and hopefully Ed will make the right decision. Ole’s at the wheel, how good does it feel? Honestly, it feels awesome and long may the reign of Ole the 1st continue!
In summary, we have a world class attacking lineup, when you consider Rashford, Martial, Alexis, Lukaku, Mata, Lingard etc.. few teams boast the quantity and quality of our attackers. We also have a world class goaltender and I’m extremely hopeful that he will re-sign with us as the rumours seem to be indicating (Martial as well yay!). Having taken those two areas of the field off the table, I think we need a little more strength in midfield and defence. We need one more quality midfielder immediately and will need to look at a strong defensive midfielder in the next year or two to replace an aging Matic although I’ve been very encouraged that Ander Herrera has returned to the starting lineup (still don’t see what Mourinho saw in Fellaini). On the defence side, Lindelof has been impressive lately but we need some steel to go with that silk so we need to sign a quality centre back in the mold of Vidic or Stam. We have very promising full backs in Shaw and Dalot but a bit of back up for injuries is required as Ash and Tony are getting up in years. I think we have a decent squad that has definitely been underperforming and all we need are a few quality additions in certain positions. It’s incredible the difference a new manager can make. A month or two ago I was ready to tear the squad down and rebuild but what he has achieved with the exact same group of players is absolutely outstanding. The commitment and effort by the players since Ole was brought on board is like night and day and we look like a completely new team. I am excited to watch our games again.
As a footnote, I have an extensive collection of jerseys. I’m up to about 20 or so and the highlights of my collection are a 99 champions league winner’s jersey with Scholes, my original green and gold with Giggs and a 94/95 Cantona home shirt.
With best regards to all United Fans.
FAN OF THE MONTH - ALEX ZLATIN
My name is Alex Zlatin and I am delighted to be the MUSCC Member of the Month for December. I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I am the CEO of Maxim Software Systems.
My love for united started through generic football/soccer match watching on television with my Dad . That would probably be around 1995, when I was 11 years old. I remember that of all the matches I watched, the ones involving the team with red shirts (United) were the most enjoyable. Watching the team play with such enthusiasm and passion was mesmerizing. One might say it was “love at first sight”.
I try to watch as many games as possible but due to the time difference I can rarely watch mid week games. I watch the weekend matches at home while watching my 2 little kids (aged 4 &1). I get them into the game as well.
I absolutely love Eric Cantona! He’s my all time favorite United Player. Eric was an inspiration to the rest of the players and the spark plug of the team. From the current squad I love Juan Mata and Ander Herrera. They have, overtly, true passion for the club and that is much needed to motivate the rest of the team.
My biggest thrill as a United fan was watching the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich in 1999. The emotions I felt when United scored the first goal to tie the game were amazing. But, when they scored the second goal I went completely ballistic. I guess I am not the only one. I am sure there were millions of United fans all over the world sharing the same emotions.J
It was always my dream to watch a game at OT. and I was able to realize that dream in September of 2015. I watched United beat Ipswich 3-0 at OT and one of my dreams has been realized. The atmosphere was awesome! I will probably travel to at least one of their games in their next summer tour (fingers crossed).
United have spent lavish amounts of money on transfers. As well, they have the highest payroll in the Premier League. Yet they are having a mediocre season. I believe that in order to build a real contender, you need a lot of patience. It takes 3-4 seasons to re build a solid team. The new players coming in every season and switching of managers after SAF’s retirement have had an adverse effect on trying to form a cohesive and like-minded team. We as fans would like to see consistent wins, but we need to also be patient and let the team come together. There are things going on behind the scenes to get our precious team to start winning again and take us back to glorious days when watching United play was anticipated like Christmas. .
There is a distinct lack in endurance. There are a lot of games where the
attackers and midfielders are not pressing the opponent’s defense. In
modern soccer, the team that presses almost always wins. If the team
does not practice this, they will have a hard time getting back to the top.
The big question now is can we salvage anything from this season?
I guess it all depends on an individual’s definition of “salvage”
Personally, I think qualifying for Europe is something United
should do each season, even if they are scrambling to rebuild a team.
There are plenty of matches left and there is still a good chance to finish
in the EPL top four. I think , the way things are going I’d be happy with
fourth or fifth place in the table for this season.
Best regards to United fans everywhere and if you are ever in Winnipeg
call me and we can go for a drink and talk about the Reds…
FAN OF THE MONTH - LIAM MCGRATH
Hello United fans,
My name is Liam McGrath and I have been living in Vancouver, BC for over six years. It was supposed to be a short-term stay, but leaving one of the most beautiful cities in the world is not that easy! Monday to Friday, I work in HR for a utility company and on the weekends you can usually find me in The Lamplighter watching the reds in great company, sometimes as early as 4:00 AM! The Vancouver Supporters branch is a tight knit group of very dedicated members. I help our branch by organizing social events and contests for club members.
I grew up in a city in the south-east of Ireland which has strong historical ties with Manchester United - Waterford City. 1968 European Cup winner Shay Brennan lived in Waterford, played for Waterford FC and even won two league titles as their manager. Shay made his United debut and scored two goals in the first United match to be played following the Munich air crash.
Manchester United played against Waterford FC in the 1968/69 European Cup, their first game in the tournament after their historic win against Benfica at Wembley some months earlier. Dennis Law scored seven goals over the two legs. Bobby Charlton wound down his playing career in 1976 by playing four matches for Waterford FC. Five-time title winner with United, John O’Shea, hails from Waterford, as does an impressive talent currently in United’s Under-23 squad, Lee O’Connor. It’s this strong connection that has resulted in me being a lifelong fan.
Before I moved to Canada in 2012, I would travel to Old Trafford two or three times per season. My first match was in the 1997 Champions League against little-known Slovakian champions Košice. Since then, I have been lucky enough to see United in action against Liverpool, City, Chelsea and many more. My most cherished memories at Old Trafford include; United’s 5-2 victory over Tottenham after trailing 2-0 at half-time in 2009, Wayne Rooney’s overhead-kick screamer in the derby (he definitely didn’t shin it!) and the 2011 title celebrations and farewell to Edwin Van Der Sar following a 4-2 victory over Blackpool. Whenever I make the long trip home to Ireland, I always try to make it my business to take in a United match.
As far as my favourite United moment goes, it’s hard to better the two Champions League final wins in 1999 and 2008. The 1999 season in particular had so many unforgettable moments – the FA Cup semi-final win over Arsenal, the cup fourth round victory over Liverpool earlier that season where we were 1-0 down going into injury time (a sign of what was to come), sealing the title on the last day of the season against Tottenham, the 3-2 win in Turin and of course the never to be repeated Champions League final victory against Munich – “And Solskjaer has won it!”
United fans have a vast number of options when pressed to name their favourite player of all time. For me, it has to be The King, Eric Cantona. His leadership, skill and character lit up Old Trafford in the 90s and made United the winning machine they would go on to be over the next two decades. He was the reason so many kids played football in the school yard or parks with their shirt collar turned up. The announcement of his retirement in 1997 is still the most distraught I’ve ever felt as a United fan. The fact that he only played for United for five years, retired over 20 years ago and still has his name sung all around Old Trafford today, tells you of the impact he had on our club.
Currently, United are not hitting the heights of those periods mentioned above but I do see the potential for us to do great things in the next two or three years. Despite the results this season, we do have quality players in a variety of positions and continue to produce talent through our academy like no other club does. What we do need to do as a club, from head to toe, is decide on our identity as a team. This should then dictate transfer policy, coaching appointments and on-field styles and systems.
Jose Mourinho is a proven winner. His record speaks for itself. I do feel that he doesn’t do himself many favours with the way he sets his team up for games. United fans are used to seeing our team play with a bit more freedom than they are currently being afforded. This group of players are more effective when the reins are loosened, as seen in recent come-from-behind victories. In the upcoming transfer window, I feel that we should be targeting holding midfielder who can offer some additional protection to our defence. Unfortunately Nemanja Matic isn’t as effective as he has been in recent seasons.
The top 4 is still within reach despite a shaky start and another FA Cup for the cabinet is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Keep the red flag flying high!
FK PARTIZAN FAN OF THE MONTH - MARK VRBICA
My name is Mark Vrbica and I live in Toronto. I work at Loblaws in a Supervisory position at the Broadview and Danforth store .
I have always liked soccer but never grew up with a local team to support. About twenty years ago in the mid nineties I was sitting in a bar and there was a soccer game on TV.. Some guy walked by me and asked what the score was so I looked up at the TV monitor and started watching. It was United playing someone. I can’t remember who the opponents were but I do remember being drawn into watching the rest of the game and feeling excited when United scored and subsequently won. I guess it was ‘ love at first sight’ because here I am still watching every game I can and feeling happy when they win and miserable when they lose. As well, I watch most games on TV at the Firkin on Bloor along with other United fans.
The biggest thrill I ever had as a Fan was watching United win the Premier League Championship the last season of SirAlex Ferguson’s tenure as Team Manager. That was a great team and though they were getting past their prime, they pulled out all the stops and bagged a big trophy to send Fergy happily into retirement after 27 years as “The Boss”. My favourite all time player for United was on that team in the person of Neminja Vidic. Vidic was like a wall and one of the best defenders to pull on the red shirt. He had the gift of anticipating his oppositions next move and he had the courage of a warrier. What a player…
I have never been to Old Trafford the Theater of Dreams but hope to get there one day. I did see United play live a couple of years ago. That was in Ann Arbor, Michigan when the team were on a pre-season North American tour. I went with a bunch of other fans from the Toronto area on a bus trip organized by the MUSCC. We had a great time and United beat Real Madrid 2-1.
We seem to be off to a shakey start this season and although I like JM as a Manager he seems to have lost the dressing room and needs to mend some fences!!!The top four teams seem to have already positioned themselves in the Premiership. It might already be too late for United to catch up. We are already knocked out of the League Cup so our only real chance of a trophy might be the FA Cup.
Best regards to United fans wherever you may be.
FAN OF THE MONTH - JOHN KAMAL
My name is John Kamal. I live in Toronto and I run a travel agency for a living. I was born in Cairo, Egypt and growing up we didn't really get access to a lot of International Football (Meaning football from other countries, not the boring breaks that disrupt our season! lol). We knew the clubs, saw some highlights here and there but it was never enough to be a fan of a specific team.
That all changed in 1998/1999, when we started getting all the Champions League games on TV. I remember watching every single game that first season and being blown away by the level of play. I think what did it for me was the 2 legs of the semi-final against Juventus! That's when I knew that I had fallen in love with United and I have never looked back since. Of course a very special moment was the last few minutes of the Bayern Munich game in the final. I still get ‘goose bumps’ thinking about it.
The next season, things got even better as we started getting all the Premier League and cup games so I was able to watch every game United played. That team with Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Stam, Schmeichel, Neville, Yorke and Cole was something else! Probably the best Club team in recent history.
When I think about my biggest thrill as a United fan a number of moments come to mind. Besides the 1999 CL Final, I would say the John Terry slip in 2008 was memorable. I'm also not sure why this moment stands out to me, but the Macheda (Remember that guy?) screamer against Aston Villa to win 3-2 after being down 1-2 for most of the gam also sticks in my mind.
Who is my favorite United player of all time?
Picking just one is never easy but I would say Paul Scholes. One of the most consistent players I've seen and was always a joy to watch.
I have never been to Old Trafford yet but it's on top of my bucket list for sure. However, I did get to the game vs. Celtic at Rogers Centre in 2010. Too bad United never came back up here again.
With respect to the manager, I find the current version of Jose very hard to read. I was excited when he first came to United. He is United quality. A passionate fighter and a winner! He always seemed to have a special kind of respect for United, even when he was at Chelsea. It looked to me like United would be his dream job. But then he started coming across as lacking in passion and winning mentality. It's like we didn't get the real Jose. Lately, he has been starting to show glimpses of passion coming back with him standing up to his critics and backing the players and fans.
While I completely support him at the moment (As I would support any United manager), I don't think that currently he has what it takes to be our manager. United's manager to me can't say that he is proud of finishing second last season or winning the Europa League. United's manager to me has to have a win or bust mentality (Even if it's not achievable with the players he has). The United I fell in love with and still love is a team that you can never write off no matter who is on the pitch. A team that makes the impossible possible. We need a dreamer. A visionary. Someone like Sir Alex who said that his goal was to surpass Liverpool when it sounded crazy and drive the club with this mentality. ( Rant over! Lol).
Regarding the team, where do I start? If I'm building a team that would win the league I would sign a right back, left back, 2 Central Defenders (Rio and Nemanja quality ones), a creative playmaker and a clinical finisher (I know this might be controversial). I really like Lukaku, but we can't always get enough chances for him to score. We need someone that would score from half a chance. That would be the type of player that would win us trophies.
But overall I think we have a good team with a lot of promising young players that would hopefully fill those gaps for now.
It all depends on which United will show up more for the remainder of the season. Would it be the United that played Brighton or the United that played Burnley.
Best regards to Unite fans everywhere.
FAN OF THE MONTH - BRENDAN HANCOCK
My name is Brendan Hancock and I am in the Canadian Armed Forces, and currently posted in Kingston, Ontario.
Being in the Armed Forces means not having a permanent residence but I have been trying to attract other like-minded people to visit the local pubs to build a fan base and atmosphere here in Kingston. My usual spots for watching United games are the Toucan and The Wellington Duke.
When I was growing up as a typical Canadian boy, the big sports to watch and play were Hockey and Baseball. However, when I was in high school, most of my friends were Italian and they introduced me to the “Beautiful Game” of soccer. The magic moment came for me watching the World Cup Qualifier in 2001, England vs Greece. In the last few seconds, Beckham scored the free kick to send England to the World Cup Finals. I was mesmerized and became a Beckham follower. Inevitably, David led me to Manchester United and I fell in love with the Reds.
Although I am a relatively new Fan of United I have had some magic moments watching them. Following the team through the play offs and ultimately winning the Champions League in 2008 was an incredible thrill. Probably my most amazing singular moment watching United was in the 2010/2011 match against City when Wayne Rooney scored with a bicycle kick what turned out to be the winning goal in the “derby” match.
My favourite all time player for United was Paul Scholes. He had absolute control and dominance of the midfield. His passes were superb and his accuracy was second to none.. he was an absolute gem to watch.
As well, Paul Scholes he scored goals.
I have never been to OT but I would love to make it there eventually.
My friends and I have a boys trip every summer to watch the Premier League Teams on their Pre-season North American tours. I was lucky enough this year to watch Manchester United play vs Real Madrid in Ann Arbor and also against Liverpool in Ann Arbor.
I haven't read too much into the signings, as there weren't any blockbuster moves, but I am looking forward in seeing how Fred can manage central midfield. He is a well respected player with many years of experience.
As for the Manager. I believe Jose will stay at Manchester. The preseason rumours and media hype were getting so out of hand... I hope the locker room and management continue to have a positive relationship if we wish to see any success this season.
Life in the Premier Division is always going to be tough but we have a very good squad of players. United may have some difficulty facing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal... but I believe we can easily manage a top four spot with the players we have.
With best regards to United fans everywhere.
FAN OF THE MONTH - AMRIK HARE
My name is Amrik Hare and I live in Mono, Ontario
I have been a soccer fan all of my life and had heard about Manchester United from family and friends. But my real commitment to Manchester United began in 1992. That was the year that Denmark won the European Nations Championship and I discovered the “Great Dane” (Peter Schmeichel) who’s outstanding performance in goal helped Denmark win the European Trophy. From that moment he became my all time favorite player and ultimately United became my team. I fell in love with the Reds and there has been no looking back ever since.
Living in a small community and because of my schedule I watch most games at home but I occasionally make it out to a pub to watch some matches. I have been to Old Trafford several times over the years and have seen United play, Watford, West Ham, Liverpool and Newcastle. United obliged me by winning every match I saw at O.T. As well, I have seen United play on several of their North American Tours. In New York v. Juventus, in Toronto v. Celtic and in Michigan v. Real Madrid. I am also going to Michigan again this summer to watch them play against Liverpool.
My biggest thrill as a United fan was the 1999 comeback in the CL Final against Bayern Munich. Unbelievable….
My all time favourite United player is of course Peter Schmeichel. He’s the reason I became a United fan and also a goalkeeper. A close 2nd and 3rd for me as players would be Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane just because they don’t make players like that anymore. He was a true leader. Ryan Giggs for his longevity to stay in the game for so long and still produce at a top-class level.
Obviously I’m not happy hat we did not win a trophy this season. We had a chance at lifting the FA Cup but we just didn’t seize that opportunity. Yes we finished 2nd in the league but it’s more about closing the gap between us and city.
The Manager. Reasons I am happy with Jose are that he is a winner, he will take it personal to beat city and Pep. He does very well to create an “us against the world” mentality and he has solidified the team’s defensive shape. Reasons I’m unhappy with Jose, he’s content with a 1-0 win any and every time, he isolates players out and doesn’t let our firepower loose to take matches to the opposition. Some of his decisions could lead to us losing great potential in players like Martial and Pogba. The negative impact is that other young players may not want to come to United either.
However, I think things will improve when Jose assembles
the squad he wants.
For the past 12-13 years I’ve been juggling between a full time job and coaching teams within the community and just last year I decided to take the plunge and quit my full time job to create my own business. I created Skills & Drills Soccer Training, where I offer team trainings, goalkeeper specific training and individual player supplement training. I’m also on the coaching staff of Sheridan College women’s soccer team. Making the decision to go into coaching full time, I can honestly say I’m living the dream. Maybe one day I may end up at Carrington.”
My very best regards to Manchester United fans everywhere.
FAN OF THE MONTH - DEREK SAYLES
My name is Derek Sayles and I am delighted to be the MUSCC Fan of the Month. I was born and raised in England and emigrated to Canada in 1968 where I settled in Vancouver I am now retired but when I was working I had a rather unique occupation. For 38 years I drove a log machine in Stanley Park, Vancouver taking down dangerous trees and also clearing logs from Vancouver beaches.
As a boy I lived in Eccles a suburb of Manchester just a few miles from Stretford. I fell in love with United in 1955 when I went to my first match at Old Trafford. My Dad was a City fan and would not go to O.T. so I had to ask my Uncle to take me. United were playing Preston North End and the Reds won 3-2. I became a fan for life.
I attended many games at Old Trafford with friends and relatives until I subsequently emigrated to Canada.. For some years now I have been a regular attender at the Lamplighter Pub in Vancouver. As a member of the older generation of fans I have become something of a legend. I have been down to Seattle U.S.A. to watch United play on their American pre-season tours with some of the lads from the Lamplighter. United thrashed Seattle 8-0 in one of the games I attended.
My most memorable moment as a United fan was watching United run out of the tunnel at O.T. for their first game after the Munich air crash. What an emotional experience that was, I was eleven years old at the time.. The game was an FA cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday and United won 3-0. Shay Brennan scored twice and Alex Dawson scored one goal. My all time favorite United player was Duncan Edwards. A strong and powerful player who could be a game changer any time he played. Even though he died at such a young age he was among the best who ever wore the red shirt.
In 1980 I went down to Portland to watch United play the Timbers on a pre-season tour. After the match I went for a drink in a local bar where I was introduced to Martin Edwards the newly elected Chairman of Manchester United. This was his first overseas tour as Chairman. We kept in touch and struck up a friendship which has lasted all theses years. Martin will always be remembered for hiring Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in the history of the Club.
Today we have a new team evolving under a relatively new (to United) but experienced Manager. Based on his past record Jose has had a lot of success. My only criticism of him is that I don’t think he gives youth a chance. He tends to buy mature players who have proven themselves.
The FA Cup is the only trophy still up for grabs…. We are in the Final and I think we can win it. We have beaten all the better teams in the Premier league this season and my instinct tells me we can beat Chelsea at Wembley. I’m sure you know who I’ll be cheering for! Meanwhile, best regards to United fans everywhere.
FAN OF THE MONTH - NEIL BRADDING
My name is Neil Bradding and I am proud to be MUSCC Fan of the Month. I live in Toronto and I’m a retired Air Canada Flight Captain. As well, I teach part-time at the University of Toronto.
I have been a main stream United fan since 1968 when I watched them win the European Cup Final. I was a young lad at the time and living in Singapore. I recall that I was so impressed with the team that I wrote individual letters to each squad player and requested an autograph. Sadly, I did not receive one reply. However, I was hooked as a fan by then and have been a loyal follower of the Club ever since. These days I can be found on match days at the Firkin Pub on Bloor Street East with other loyal fans.
I have only been to Old Trafford to a match once back in 1978 . That was in the days when there was very little seating at O.T. It was a League Cup tie and sold out so I had to be satisfied standing with the Watford fans to see the game. A disappointing result but an experience to be at O.T with the home crowd.
The strangest thing that ever happened to me as a United fan occurred some years ago when I was living in Brunei. Every Friday night there was a “hike” organized by the S.A.S. for British troops who were in Brunei for ‘Jungle Training’ and expats were invited to join in. Two Instructors would lay a paper trail into the Borneo jungle, then stop the trail and go to another location to start the trail again and subsequently bring participants back to the start. One Friday evening I took part along with three other civilians and after a successful start we reached a break in the trail and were unable to find the continuation. After wandering around for a while we realised that we were lost in the middle of the Borneo jungle!! As night fell and it became darker and darker I followed the “GoldenRule” and just sat down and waited. In case of this kind of situation, the British Army had hired a couple of local men of the Eban tribe for emergency rescue. After about an hour standing in the darkness I felt a hand take mine and someone said the word “Selamat” and I knew we had been found. After being lead back to the safety of the camp and light I was able to see the man who had rescued us. He lived in an old shack with no electricity and no running water. At that moment I realized that he was wearing a red Manchester United T-shirt with the name “BEST”
on the back. I looked at him and said “Georgie” to which he smiled gave me two thumbs up and said “Manchester United number one”. This said to me that no matter where you are in this whole wide world. Declare your loyalty to United and you will find a friend.
My favourite United player of all time is Sir Bobby Charlton. He is a true natural talent. He had amazing skills and could “read” the game as he played. He also had that famous
“thunderbolt: shot which scored record breaking numbers of goals. As well, he was a gentleman and fair man both on and off the field….
As for this season, it appears that City have the Premiership title in the bag and the best we can do is win the FA Cup. That said, I really would like United to finish in second place in the league to ensure Championship football next season. Jose as Manager? Well let’s roll the dice again and hope that we come up with a double six.
Best regards to United Fans everywhere.
FAN OF THE MONTH - MIKE WAUGH
Hi, My name is Mike Waugh and it is my pleasure to be the Manchester United Supporters Club of Canada Member of the Month for February, 2018. I live in Vancouver B.C. and I'm a high school teacher by profession.
I became a fan under unusual circumstances back in 1999. Here’s the story. I was travelling through Europe, there was no hockey and I needed a sport to watch. My wife was in love with David Beckham so it was an easy pitch to watch United go through the Champions League that spring. Once I saw the win over Juve, I was hooked and have been a committed fan ever since. Subsequently I joined the MUSCC and started attending the games at the Lamplighter Pub in Vancouver along with other United fans. Now we watch all our games at the Lamplighter, 92 Water Street, Vancouver. They open for every game, even the 4am ones!! That’s dedication…
Unfortunately I've never been to Old Trafford and experienced the thrill of watching United with the home crowd. However, this is definitely a bucket list thing! I've been twice to see them play in Seattle. The first was a 7-2 smashing of the Sounders and the second was a 1-0 victory over Club America.
My biggest thrill as a fan, actually there are two biggest thrills. The first was the Champions League Final in 1999 to clinch the “treble”…..this literally brought me to tears along I’m sure with millions of United fans worldwide…and my 2nd is a seldom remembered late goal by Ryan Giggs vs Norwich in 2012….The Giggs goal was a typical example of the never say die attitude of United. They kept on attacking in waves until Giggs scored in the dying seconds.
My all time favourite United player is Nemanja Vidic......I love his style of defending. Along with Rio they formed an amazing central defence around which the team was built.
This season we are currently still contenders for silverware. I think we stand a good chance of winning the FA Cup and I think getting Sanchez has given us an outside chance of winning the Champions League. I am happy with Jose as manager, he's doing a good job of replenishing a team that was neglected for 4 years under Moyes and Van Gaal. There's obviously room for improvement but we are trending in the right direction.
The Supporters Group here in Vancouver has been an amazing experience and I look forward to seeing where the club goes over the next few years!! With Best Regards to United fans everywhere.