Moyes Plane Banner Protest Not the Right Approach for Manchester United Fans

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  David Moyes the Manchester United manager looks on prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at Boleyn Ground on March 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

"Hated, adored but never ignored."

That is a modern-day catchphrase that you will hear many Manchester United fans spout in the pubs of Manchester and beyond. 

United fans have taken great pride in recent years at being the biggest and best-looking dog at the proverbial Crufts, showing off their well-groomed Premier League coats and cocky championship walks. 

And they took Sir Alex Ferguson's philosophy of "us against the world" and wore it like a badge of honour, with chests thrust out and lungs full of pride and passion. 

As a United fan, you accept that everywhere you go you will be called a "glory supporter," whatever your background with the club, and you dust off your shoulder the jealousy and blind hatred that is thrown your way by others, simply because you're a Red and it is expected.

But this bubble of success was always going to burst eventually, and United fans from Salford to Singapore were never going to be ready for it. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  David Moyes the Manchester United manager looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at Boleyn Ground on March 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Im
Julian Finney/Getty Images

This season has been a mixture of utter disappointment and emotional turmoil. The sports car has lost its brakes, and we've stupidly turned the airbags off.

This is typical of football. 

I remember the end of the Liverpool years of domination, conversing with Scousers, with them gladly telling me about their 18 league championships and their haul of European Cups. They would eulogise that it was only a matter of time before they reclaimed their seat of power in the Premier League, like a warped football version of Game of Thrones

However, it has taken more than 20 years for them even to get a realistic taste of that glory, having to wait for a chap from Uruguay to come along and spearhead them away from the repetition of annual defeat.

So Manchester United now sit in Liverpool's place, staring up the table at the teams above, like it's 1984 with Big Ron Atkinson in charge, all dripping in gold chains and expensive coats. 

5 May 1996:  Portrait of Coventry City Manager Ron Atkinson signalling to his team during an FA Carling Premiership match against Leeds United at the Highfield Road Ground in Coventry, England.  \ Mandatory Credit: Ross  Kinnaird/Allsport
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

But it is not 1984. United are the reigning league champions. They are also in the last eight of the Champions League, having got further once again than Manchester City and Arsenal. And they have the best away record in the Premier League, winning 30 points on their travels, per Ben Snowball of Eurosport. 

But, of course, these facts just paper over the cracks, and United do sit in a league position that they find uncomfortable and threatening.

And the truth is that it is doing funny things to the fanbase. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Fans make their way to the stadium prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Earlier in the season we heard boos at Old Trafford, as it became apparent that this would not be a wonderful start of new era under David Moyes, but those subsided as quickly as they started.

And as form continued to sink and losing became a common practice, the atmosphere inside of the Theatre of Dreams improved. 

In fact, it got to the point where United were being destroyed by Liverpool at Old Trafford, with Luis Suarez scoring the third goal for his team, and all you could hear was the defiant voice of a football club united as 70,000 Red Devils sang for their lives.

It was a fantastic moment when you are reminded why you support your football club.

This was then followed by a glorious recovery against Olympiakos, only for the bubble to be burst again by Manchester City who strolled to victory against a United team devoid of confidence or ideas. 

The Manchester Evening News confirmed on Friday that a plane has been commissioned to fly a "Moyes Out" banner over Old Trafford before Saturday's match against Aston Villa

However, there is no proof that it was a United fan or group who paid the £800 that it costs to pull off such a stunt, but it would be a strange and expensive act from a rival set of fans.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  United fans display a banner honouring Manchester United Manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on January 11, 2014 in Manchester, England.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Indeed, Moyes' popularity and credibility have crashed since Christmas. I felt he should be given time to organically grow the team in a Fergie-like manner, but then I saw his tactics and changed my mind.

It was not so much of a handbrake turn, but it is masochistic and foolish to deny what we have been witnessing on the football pitch.

I understand that many fans want Moyes gone and I now stand with them, but it is a decision made with the head and not the heart. The heart says to stand by the manager and take the pain. But the head says that this is a sport, and only hard work, logic and technical acumen can save the day. 

The idea to fly a banner over Old Trafford is the lowest of the low, and there is no justification in it. It is not a decision of the heart or mind. It is simply the opportunity to use our current predicament to vent like a child. 

No such stunt will get a manager sacked under the Glazers, who really do just do what they want, as the popular terrace chant goes. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 22:  Sunderland fans celebrate following their team's 2-1 victory following the penalty shootout during the Capital One Cup semi final, second leg match between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford on January 22,
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It is amazing that even a very small minority of fans would back such an event, knowing that it would fuel more negativity against the fanbase publicly rather than get the manager the sack. 

Moyes gave his reaction to BBC Sport to the news of the plane banner protest, and, as expected, he faced it with his usual repertoire of managerial rhetoric.

But whether one believes he is doing a bad job on his own, or whether Fergie gave him an impossible task, it is pathetic to think that flying a plane over a stadium, where fans go to "support" a team, is the right thing to do. 

Old Trafford will give its vocal response when the plane flies over on Saturday, and the fans will stand by Moyes on this specific day. It might be true that it is Moyes' time to go, but to do it this way lacks class and compassion. 

United fans at Old Trafford do not lack dignity or practise self-loathing. 

Moyes does not need the help of the fans to lose his job, but the team surely needs its supporters to try and help them pull through and improve.

"Glory glory Man United" has little to do with winning trophies, and everything to do with having the privilege of being a Red.


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