Saudi trip takes a toll on our class of 2008

YOU can always tell the state of Man United corporate thinking from the ever-revolving and allegedly player-distracting pitchside ads at Old Trafford.

On Sunday, we first had Air Asia touting low cost routes promising future hordes of camera-toting Manc-replacements. We then saw a rather desperate hospitality department appeal begging us to text them to avail ourselves of remaining “seasonal facilities”, thus illustrating supply has finally exceeded demand, as predicted here long ago.

Finally, MUTV invited us to join them for a freeview showing of the Munich memorial event, part of their rolling project of the occasional freebie to tempt you into signing up for the pay channel. Mmm. A case of “Come for the grief — but stay for the Red Hot Chat at 6!” Classy.

“Class” was on the agenda all week, of course, thanks to Fergie’s pronouncements about the state of Anfield. “At big clubs it’s paramount that the board shows its class.

“I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve had good directors — people like Martin Edwards.”

It must have been a completely different Martin Edwards to the one with the fetish for spying on women in ladies’ toilets, leaving us under the aegis of a life president with a sex offender police caution on his record. Classy indeed!

An easy, cheap shot perhaps but verbal own goals came thick ‘n’ fast from Fergie all week, via one of which he managed to alienate yet more previously loyal fans when he remarked of the vital fans’ rights groups at United: “What we are seeing today is that factions try to interfere with the running of the club...in some cases, they are just young men, people who’ve been supporting the club only 10 or 15 years. It always seems to be younger people.”

Well, there you have it: if you are not virtually a pensioner, you don’t count at O.T. and you can just “go and watch Chelsea”.

Or FCUM, maybe, where everyone gets a vote and due respect, regardless of age.

Typically, he was also inaccurate: the first chair of our Supporters’ Association has been going to O.T. since 1956; the second one since 1970; whilst the current head is late ‘70s vintage. All nippers, clearly! Meanwhile, how long has Fergie been at O.T. — a mere 21 years.

You’re a Johnny-come-lately in comparison, laddie!

Besides, even an eight-year-old could see the effects of the sapping Saudi trip on Sunday.

It was actually a hugely enjoyable match, thanks to the level playing field our unimaginative sluggishness created for Spurs to exploit, but represented an indictment of United’s corporate judgement nonetheless, as we thus needlessly flirted with elimination until the last minutes. Not least as Vidic appears to have been injured getting on a camel — a sentence we never thought we’d see, eh? — and if he misses Spurs away and we lose three priceless points, what value the €1.2m fee then?

Still, I guess we will be assured that whoring ourselves to Arab potentates with a yen for stoning and decapitation is as “classy” as it gets. Incidentally, anyone thinking that the seven-hour flight out and the heavily-delayed 10 hour trip back were clearly poor preparation for the dicey defensive display vs Spurs can rest easy.

Fergie’s reply: “[The delay] was a bagatelle compared to the great cultural experience we had.”

Blimey: and here’s us thinking this was a football club, not a tour guide centre for “cultural experiences”.

Enough whinging, Kurt: imagine if you’d been born City.

The transfer window closes tomorrow and though I cannot claim to know if we will sign anyone, I can at least reveal here that one of Micah Richards’s closest advisers met United for “an exploratory chat” seven weeks ago, presumably with a view to a possible summer deal.

The player has signed up to the same NVA agency that Rio is hooked up to for his “lifestyle agreements”, which can only help, as can Gary Neville’s apparent cataclysmic situation. Richards and Rio in one defence: admitted good quality, but little class.

How apt for us.

Richard Kurt, whose Red Army Years is only available via redissuebooks@hotmail.co.uk

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