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Manchester United: Director’s Cut – Ep 0: Prologue

Hello and welcome! Yes, I’m talking to you! Don’t be afraid, come in, come in. I’m not asking a lot. All I ask is that you muster just enough imagination to put yourself in my alternative reality. A parallel universe if you like, and even though it stretches the constraints of reality a bit it holds a story-line not too far-fetched at all. If this was a movie depiction of reality there would a certain amount of “artistic freedom” and even brand new scenes you’d never seen before. You will soon understand why the series is called “Director’s cut”, a suitable title in more than one way.

Disclaimer: Of course All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.

Manchester, 2019

The riots had been running wild in the streets of Manchester over the last couple of nights. What started as unorganized spontaneous gatherings of disgruntled fans a month or so ago had gradually grown into full-blown riots. As the Red Devils kept losing game after game under the lack-luster leadership of the Glazer family, a spark turned into a fire. The few and occasional “Glazer Out” banners that had been seen at Old Trafford at the beginning of the 2018/19 season multiplied with every lost game. Towards the end of the season the entire arena was filled with them at home games.

The protests against the Manchester United owners were nothing new. As early as 2005 a number of Manchester United fans decided that enough was enough when American business man Malcolm Glazer acquired full ownership of the club. This resulted in the founding of FC United of Manchester, a protest action and a return to supporting a more familiar club. The alternative, fan owned club, was by many viewed as a more genuine alternative, at least compared to the new club owners that fans struggled to identify with.

The balancing act

Over the coming years the supporters that remained loyal to Manchester United Football Club balanced the joy that the financial security of a strong owner brought with the ever-growing feeling that their beloved club was gradually being turned from football club into anonymous heartless business venture. Initially this balancing act was made a lot easier by the fact that the team kept winning. Three consecutive Premier League titles in 06/07, 07/08 and 08/09 were followed by another two in the next four years. And then, the drought. For a fan-base used to their team dominating English football the dry spell that has followed the successful years could best be described as the Sahara desert of football. Neither Moyes, van Gaal, Mourinho nor Solskjaer managed to put Manchester United back on top and as the years passed, the walk through what had started to seem like an endless desert turned impatient fans into furious fans.

Despite Solskjaer being a true Man Utd man, when he was announced as the new manager the feeling among the fans was that he simply didn’t have the spark needed to guide Manchester United back to the top. A kind and good man, but not one destined for greatness. After an initial honeymoon where the team came close to resembling great versions from the past, they returned to their sad losing ways, crushing the fans’ budding hope and pushing the last remaining OGS supporters out into the streets, joining the protesters. Few were the fans that mourned his sacking at the end of the 2018/19 season, leaving Man Utd managerless.

The revolution

The protesters advanced quickly now. The policemen that had initially tried to stop them were now running by their side towards Old Trafford. Man Utd fan chants and “Glazer out” shouts were heard alternately as the giant crowd drew closer. From the news helicopter hovering above, it was described as “a giant red snake slithering relentlessly towards the arena, zigzagging past overturned cars on fire”. “These are unimaginable scenes” the reporter nearly shouted. “It looks like a revolution”. He had no idea how accurate he was. This was certainly the beginning of a football revolution. And in the party headquar…I mean Old Trafford the Glazer brothers cowered, trying to force Director of football Ed Woodward to go out there and meet the angry mob. “Go out there, Ed! Make them go away! We don’t want this. We don’t run a soccer club for the emotions, we do it for the shirt sales!” With fear in both eyes and heart Ed Woodward marched towards the entrance gates. With every step he heard the crowd’s chanting growing louder. They were getting closer and closer, their mumbling turning into songs. As he saw their leader emerge at the top of Sir Matt Busby Way and hundreds upon hundreds appearing behind him, Ed Woodward could suddenly make out individual words in the songs. Words not suitable for children. Words that would make his own mother cry. When he heard his own name mixed with these words he felt a sudden moment of clarity. He just knew that he was finished at Manchester United. He was never going to return. The crowd was getting really close to him now as he stood outside the stadium, shivering. He could see the distinct features of their leader, his small yet powerful build, his grey hair and the raging fire in his eyes. When he saw the crowd behind him engulf the statue of the United trinity like a wave washing away a poorly built sand castle he wanted to run, but it was like he was frozen solid. He couldn’t move an inch as the leader approached him.

A new leader

He saw the mouth of the man in front of him move, but at first Ed Woodward couldn’t make out the actual meaning of the words coming out of it. He could only pick up a few disconnected words over the sound of the roaring crowd. “Prawn sandwich…football…cunt…” The crowd was so loud, but with a slight hand gesture from their leader they fell dead silent in an instant. His power over the crowd was total, only matched by their love and trust in him. Even though the voice with the Irish accent was clear and the surrounding crowd absolutely silent as the leader started speaking again, Ed Woodward still struggled to understand. He could only hear the beating rhythm of his own heart, faster and faster.

“Hey, Mr Deadwood!” The leader’s shout acted as a wake-up call for Ed Woodward. “Mr Deadwood! Are you even listening to me?” For a brief moment the fear that Ed Woodward had felt was replaced by anger. He felt betrayed. Betrayed and insulted. By the Glazers. By the fans. And now by this man. A former Manchester United icon. “I’m not dead wood. My name is Ed Woodward. Mr Woodward to you” he replied. His response seemed to even further ignite the fire burning in the eyes of the leader and his confidence vanished as quickly as it had come. The leader laughed and replied with a loud “you are certainly dead wood to me” as he started walking closer. Suddenly the leader lept forward screaming “take this you dead wood cunt”. With no more than an inch Ed Woodward managed to escape a lunge that was clearly aimed for his left shin. He was no longer frozen solid. He was running. Running for his life. At least it felt that way. He didn’t look back as he ran from the crazy crowd, but he could hear the leader shout “And tell your pal Glazer there’s some for him as well”.

With Ed Woodward out of the way the crowd advanced into Old Trafford in search for both owners and players, the latter apparently held hostage in one of the locker rooms by the first. The crowd advanced, room by empty room, until they reached the executive offices. They were just as empty as the previous rooms. On a desk in the biggest office, the final one to be searched, was a single piece of paper.

“We return the club to you, the fans. We were never in it for the emotions, we were simply in it to sell jerseys and watch a bit of soccer. If you think that you can do better than this, fine. Take it, it’s yours.

-Glazer out”

 As their leader read the message out loud, murmurs of disbelief turned into shouts of victory. They had achieved what no-one thought possible. They had liberated the club in their hearts. It was their club again. Only one final task remained, to find and liberate the players. The crowd moved, singing and dancing, high on the news, towards the dressing rooms. Distant cries for help could be heard from one of the rooms. The door was locked, but it was no match for a mob. Within seconds the door was turned into dust and the fans responsible for it were met with a strange sight as they looked into the dressing room. It looked like a war zone in there, with spilled food and drink scattered among broken furniture. The flickering light from the single remaining light bulb in the ceiling lit up a corner of the room where some of the younger players stood huddled crying. Paul Pogba was sleeping on the floor. A strange sight indeed. A couple of players started cheering as the leader stepped into the room. A few of the players even started dabbing and dancing. The festive atmosphere was quickly cut short by the man the crowd had appointed as their leader.

“What a sorry bunch of excuses for football players you are. Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are superstars” he said bluntly. One of the players stopped his dabbing to object, but suddenly realized he had nothing to object to. He WAS a superstar, wasn’t he?

The leader continued. “I am your new boss. From now on, whatever I say is the law. There is going to be some major changes around here. Welcome to the real Manchester United. Fuck you. Fuck all of you”

As Roy Keane left the dressing room feelings were mixed among the players. The younger players had stopped sobbing to discuss who the bearded man might actually have been. They all vaguely recognized him, maybe from TV? Santa Claus, one of them suggested! One of the older players who definitely recognized the man, told them that this was a man that didn’t bring THAT type of gifts and that they better quickly grow up from boys to men before they learned the hard way. One of the players started dancing again, like nothing had happened. Paul Pogba was still sleeping on the floor, blissfully unaware of the fact that he had just got a new manager.

My Manchester United FM20 blog series

So, IF you’ve read this far you have probably got at least a decent grip of what’s going on. If you simply skipped all the text and jumped straight to this part I’ll quickly explain to you what’s going on. My main blog series for FM20 will be with Manchester United. Not for the Beta, but for the proper version of the game. I’m gonna do what I usually do. I’m in it for the long haul. I’m gonna play and blog for months, go in-depth and focus on youth and player development. All of this with a bit of a twist.

The basis for the series are the following:

  • Glazers OUT
    • Manchester United will be a fan-owned club. Like FC United of Manchester. Or FC Barcelona if you will. This will mean two things:
      • A bit of editor work needs to be done. The Glazers will be replaced by a member-based ownership. In this save you, the reader, will be regarded as a member of the club and will therefore have the chance to vote on important matters regarding the club. This will be done through Twitter polls on a regular basis. The first matter of business will be to decide which players stays and goes.
      • All (Yes. All.) existing funds will be removed and the bank balance will be set at a solid 0 to reflect the withdrawal of the Glazer family as owners.
  • Roy Keane IN
    • Roy Keane is the new manager of the club. A controversial character with little managerial experience at a club of this level. This will be reflected in the following way:
      • Roy Keane will NEVER compromise with members of the media or a player/staff in interactions or press conferences. If a player comes whining it will ALWAYS be “My way or the highway”. No player is bigger than Roy Kea…I mean the club.
      • Roy has a certain view of how the game should be played and what sort of players that are needed for that type of football. You could call his views a bit “traditional” if you will. We’ll get back to that later.
  • Focus on the youth
    • Many are the fans that associate the massive success in the 1990s and 2000s with “The class of 92”. The 1992 FA Youth Cup winning team featured future United regulars David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. Together with Paul Scholes and Phil Neville they were populary called “Fergie’s Fledglings” as a comparison and an homage to the “Busby Babes”. We are going to try to form a new generation of future Man Utd icons with the imaginative work title “Keano’s Kids”. More on them in a future post as well.

What’s next?

I won’t start the save until the full game is properly released but a lot of things will still happen until then:

  1. I’ll start posting Twitter polls asking YOU, the members, to decide whether to keep or sell each player individually. The results of these polls will determine the squad that Roy Keane will have at his disposal.
  2. “Manchester United – club guide” blog post
  3. “Premier League – league guide” blog post
  4. A blog post where I explain Roy Keane’s actual impact on the save/series as well as his views on tactics, players, youth setup etc.

I hope you’ll find this interesting enough to join me and Roy Keane on this journey to bring Manchester United back to the top!

See you soon. Until then, “take this, you cunt!”

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