We pay your benefits, you know

You have to wonder whether the great and entitled Manchester United sit around in their Old Trafford luxury, thinking up ways to make the football public hate them more than they already do. But, hey ho, I doubt they really care.

This time it’s West Ham’s travelling faithful in their firing line. Here we are in the last 16 of the FA Cup, already knowing there is no train back from Manchester to Euston for the fifth round tie against the robbin’ Red Devils, midweek at the end of February - TV hasn’t told us yet when they will be happy for us to make the trip - and it’s a laughable cost of £46 a head.

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The Theatre of Broken Dreams

A coach trip or overnight hotel stop, food and drink, two days off work and now £46 on top of that. The outcry from our fans has been predictable, nobody will see much change from £200, apart from me and the lad. I have to hold my hands up here, because we live 20 minutes away and will be home in bed before the motorway nightmare around south Manchester abates to allow our fellow Hammers to head back south. You do all have our deepest sympathies. What more can I say?

Maybe they’ve heard us sing about us paying their benefits once too often and feel we can all afford to subsidise them this time. Come on folks, where’s your sense of humour?

But joking apart, these prices are a joke, an embarrassment for all who decided on them. We get 9,000 tickets under FA rules, maybe this is a subtle way of easing the pressure on Manchester plod who may not be too happy about our chirpy lot - Chim Chimeny and all that - all over their city at rush hour. Or everybody is trying to squeeze every last penny out of the punters, already reeling under the cost of living disaster.

Whatever. Many will vote with their feet, not go because they just can’t afford or justify these costs at the moment.

But, and there always is one. West Ham may have had some involvement in all this. Were they consulted? The club get a sizable cut of the gate money, as much as 45 per cent I’ve heard. You can hear the ching-ching in David Sullivan’s head from a mile away.

IF we knew about all this. IF we agreed to it. IF Manchester United get a 70,000 gate at say £50 average, then West Ham may well see £1m falling into their coffers. IF only we knew.

What we do know is that Nottingham Forest fans paid £30 a head for the League Cup semi-final this week at Old Trafford and when our fans have been at Brentford and on Monday, at Derby in the earlier FA Cup rounds, we were charged a very reasonable £20.

The Premier League cap on away tickets is £30, and although that doesn’t apply for the FA Cup, how do Manchester United justify a 50 per cent price hike? Maybe Sullivan knows more than we do, maybe we deserve an explanation.

And all this hogwash about both sets of fans being charged the same amount just won’t wash. Manchester United's corporate greed is stamped all over this.

Not that I’m a bit surprised. I’ve lived on their doorstep for close on 40 years. This money grabbing greed is nothing new. They priced out their working class support years ago.

When I moved up north, I found my local was not surprisingly full of Man United fans. They’ve become my best mates over the years, despite some Di Canio gloating on my part and my refusal to accept there was anything wrong with that marginally late Marco Boggers tackle on rent-a-gob Gary Neville.

Somehow we get on. I call them Rags (that’s Man City’s name for them, Red Arrogant Gits), and they have some nonsense about the Krays and Bobby Moore’s jewellery importation business.

But the point to all this is that when I moved here, all 13 of them in our gang were Manchester United season ticket holders. All paid up members of the Red Army of days gone by. Not one of them is still able to afford the prices these days, so they congregate in a local working mens’ club each weekend to watch the games on Mickey Mouse TV.

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The last one to cave in was the lawyer. He’s gone to live in his Marbella villa for good. No surprise there, then.

So nothing Manchester United do surprises me. And if West Ham United are involved in this scam too, I won’t be the least bit surprised either.

Up until then it had been a good week. The performance and victory at Derby is much underrated by the Moyes Out mafia, but it produced that rarity for us of a regulation victory over a lower league side. That's not something to be sniffed at, 15 times since the 1960s we have lost to lower division sides in cup ties.

Several players did well, found some form, put transfer talk behind them - yes, I mean you Michail Antonio - plus an outstanding display by Tomas Soucek, Man of the Match by all available reliable statistics and the majority of media and newspaper opinion.

Flynn Downes also played really well, but he was not "sensational" nor did he make David Moyes look "foolish" for not picking him ahead of Soucek, as one very juvenile online news outlet claimed. What a fool believes and all that.

Meanwhile the transfer window came and went and I’m one who is not too bothered that Moyes didn’t waste time and money on players that may not even get on the pitch this season. I don’t really care that our relegation rivals spent nearly £400million between them and Moyes opted against the list of deals that were 'just waiting to be signed off'.

We were told that by another client fans site, but were they any more than the 'Sullivan specials' we have got used to over the years?

Yes, Moyes' policy is a gamble. But he more than anyone knows the injury prognosis of Kurt Zouma, Danny Ings and Luca Scamacca. If they are all fit in a fortnight, he’s right to go with what he has.

He likes a smaller squad, it builds mutual respect and team spirit. And let’s face it, he’s already said he doesn’t give a shit about being sacked (a multi-millionaire wouldn’t, would he?) so he’s going with this no doubt to prove to himself he knows what he is doing. And as we all know, Sullivan is too scared to sack him now.

Watching Moyes at Derby on the pitch at the end, applauding the 4,900 travelling support and not getting one ounce of abuse, must have stuck in the throats of the anti-Moyes mob.

Yes, not replacing Craig Dawson is a gamble, but he has four central defenders and in a crisis Declan Rice can drop back. So why waste time and money on a short-term stop gap? Let’s leave it there, we’ll talk again after Newcastle.

Just leave me with the memory of our away fans going through their ‘greatest hits’ back catalogue of songs about past heroes at Derby, and realising when I got home and watched the recording that somehow a very unfortunate swear word got broadcast nationwide on the end of the Frank Lampard song. Priceless.

And of course these are the very people being shafted by Manchester United, and maybe even their own club.

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