David Moyes and Paul Bremer III

ImageBarring Manchester United winning this season’s Champions League, it’s unlikely that David Moyes will be their manager come the beginning of next season.  It was always likely to be an impossible job for anyone succeeding Fergie, and even more so given Moyes was bequeathed a wretchedly weak and aging squad. 

Unlike many in this country I’ve never believed in soft landings and the rebuild at Manchester United is likely to take 2 to 3 years at least.  There’s every chance Moyes’ successor will benefit from a lot of the good work being currently done behind the scenes, along with the adding of more structure and transparency to a number of key areas such as the scouting process. 

I’m no expert but if there was one aspect of the switch over that concerned me last summer, it was the complete clear out of the back room staff.  United have looked pedestrian and predictable and the players seem to be yearning for a coach / manager who – like current  flavour of the month, Joe Schmidt – is innovative and able to plot a credible course that leads to likely results. It brings to mind Paul Bremer issuing Order Number 2 in Iraq on May 23rd, 2003 and dissolving the Iraqi army.  Bremer’s actions were key in facilitating the ImageInsurgency that followed. 

Ok, a crisis at a football club is unimportant when compared to the needless disintegration of a nation state – what’s going on at Old Trafford hardly resembles Falluja circa 2004 -  but it’s hard not to believe that Moyes’ actions destabilised the club more than was necessary, and a gradual change would have led to more consistency and bought him more time.

Donald Fagen on Megalomaniacal Dicks

EmminentI’ve been an unashamed lover of the music of Steely Dan since my mate Dylan lent me the Gold compilation album all of 22 years ago.  He bought it on cassette – How quaint! Wonder if he still has it.  Anyway, I bought front man Donald Fagen’s memoir, Eminent Hipsters, last week and was just perusing it there when I came across this gem on page 100.

“Back to the artist as a megalomanical dick: Just like in the civilian population, a nasty, rude fucker is nasty and rude because they’re scared of what you think of them.  It’s a defense.  Sometimes, the same stuff that made them so scared has also contributed to their creative nature, though I’ve found that the most unpleasant ones are usually mediocre artists as well.  This is because real art – I’m generalizing here – requires a certain level of empathy.”

Hmmmm…..Know anyone like that? I’m really looking forward to reading this book.

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Dans La Voiture avec Neil Young

I had Neil Young to keep me company throughout 800kms of driving about the lovely Irish countryside this week.  Neil sustained a remarkable 11 year creative streak – matched only by David Bowie – between 1968′s eponymous debut and 1979′s Rust Never Sleeps.  His music moves me in a way that Bob Dylan’s never could and I always keep coming back to the fourth track on that first album, the brilliant I’ve Been Waiting For You. I was lucky enough to see him perform it live twice, at the Fleadh in Finsbury Park in 2001 and at Malahide Castle in 2008.