I woke up this morning to the news that Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to retire from his position as Manchester United’s manager. I have been a United fan since 1991, so I have never known the club without Ferguson, and it will be odd not to have him in charge. His amazing, unequalable record of success is well-known, and I am not going to repeat it here.
But I will say that I don’t think this day is a day of tragedy for the club like some are making it out to be. Ferguson had to retire sometime, and it is better for him to do so a year too soon than a year too late. Also, the young players that United currently have in the squad (who now already have the experience of winning the league), combined with veterans such as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney (whose tensions with Ferguson can now be a thing of the past, which will be a good thing for Rooney and the club because now he can stay at the club), and (still!) Ryan Giggs, plus the veterans in defense, ensure that United have the potential to continue their unparalleled success.
Current rumors have Everton’s David Moyes becoming the new manager, and I would be happy with this decision because he is a good coach who does not hog the spotlight and would put the club first. The other major candidate, Jose Mourinho, is an excellent coach, but also brings a circus atmosphere with him and might be too much of a distraction. I would also be happy with a lower profile hire, such as an assistant coach who knows the club well, or Giggs as player-coach, or someone who has connections to the club and coaching experience elsewhere like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
I haven’t posted in several weeks because I am currently on the job market and have had several interviews that have taken up all of my non-teaching time. However, my life should be a little less crazy in the near future, so I’ll be able to get back to my normal routine of posting a few times per week.
Here are a few brief thoughts on subjects that have been kicking around in my head recently:
1. I just finished teaching Zadie Smith’s White Teeth in my Literary Criticism and Research course, and it struck me during my re-reading of the book just how much it is a response to the Rushdie Affair. Millat and his fundamentalist Muslim friends go to an anti-Rushdie protest midway through the novel, and then the Affair is never explicitly mentioned again (in fact, even during this episode Rushie is not mentioned by name). But the final third of the book is devoted to the conflict between science and religion, with Millat’s group KEVIN and Hortense’s cabal of Jehovah’s Witnesses on one side and Marcus and Magid on the other. Of course these two narratives do not have to be nearly as much in opposition as public discourse in the United States claims they are, but the Rushdie Affair and its portrayal in White Teeth illuminates how when one side (the religious fundamentalists) forces the dialogue to be black or white, one must choose sides, and that the correct choice is to be on the side of freedom of speech and rationality.
2. I bought two new suits in preparation for my interviews and have been thinking about how they relate to the presentation of myself as a person, and as a part of this preoccupation I have been noticing other people’s clothing much more than usual. Last night I was at a party and was so intrigued by someone’s shirt that I asked to feel it even though I had never met the person before! I like the concept of putting a lot of care and consideration into building one’s wardrobe, but usually I am too lazy to actually do this.
3. Danny Welbeck really needs a goal, having only scored once in the league this season. He’s been getting a lot of playing time recently and is often in the starting lineup (today he came on as a late substitute against Fulham, and this kind of usage will probably become the norm now that Wayne Rooney is fully fit again), but has been unable to take advantage of these opportunities. His overall play has been decent, but as a striker his lack of scoring is glaring. The team hasn’t been suffering from Welbeck’s drought because of the presence of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (and perhaps van Persie’s presence has thrown Welbeck off his game a bit, though that is no excuse). It is clear, however, that when he gets the ball in scoring positions he is thinking too much–his lack of goals is in his head. He’s one of my favorite players, and should have a long and successful career at United, but really needs a goal so that he can stop thinking about it and continue with his development.
As I sit in front of my computer on this lazy Sunday morning that has now meandered into the afternoon, these are three of the things I am thinking about while I procrastinate working on revisions to an essay:
I am glad that Manchester United finally converted a penalty kick after missing their last three, with Robin van Persie scoring against Liverpool earlier today. I haven’t watched the match yet (it was on at 6.30 a.m. this morning and I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday until 1.30, so I didn’t get up for it), and thus haven’t seen the apparently controversial foul that led to the penalty, but it is a huge relief that the kick was converted whether it was deserved or not.
One of my favorite activities is looking at someone’s books when I visit their home for the first time because it reminds me how beautiful books are as objects, and it also teaches me something about the person–it is a window into their mind’s life. I got to do this at the aforementioned birthday party last night. My friend’s library was too small for my liking (We are friends even though she is an ereader adherent. She’s even a librarian! She should know better!), but I judged it favorably nevertheless because her literary tastes are similar to mine (ha!), and it was clear that the books she did have were treasured objects.
Fall is my favorite season; I love the cooler temperatures and the way the light changes. There is nothing better than sitting on the couch reading and looking out the window at the turning leaves while smelling a hearty fall meal cooking. This evening I am going to make a pork-and-vegetable roast, which should provide some delicious aromas to accompany the reading I will do once I finish my writing for the day.
Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Southampton today was thrilling, but also troubling for United fans. New acquisition Robin van Persie showed his brilliance with a hat trick–including two goals in the last five minutes of the match–to give the Red Devils the three points. But on the whole United looked flat, creating few scoring chances and looking comical in the back at times. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have yet to find their rhythm together this season (a situation that was not helped by the switch of Anders Lindegaard for David De Gea in goal), and the midfield has been different each match of the young campaign. This is often a vexing problem for United: with so many quality players in the squad, it takes time for Sir Alex Ferguson to decide on a consistent first team.
It was clear today that United missed the injured Wayne Rooney. Not only did van Persie miss the penalty that Rooney normally would have taken (this is not to say that van Persie is an inexperienced penalty taker or that Rooney is flawless from the spot, as he has had some high-profile misses in recent seasons, but it was clear that van Persie was suffering from nerves at the prospect of taking his first United penalty in such a crucial spot), but the link between the midfield and the strikers was lacking, as both van Persie and Danny Welbeck prefer to be target men, whereas Rooney does a better job of performing a hybridized midfielder/striker role. Welbeck tried to do this in the first half, but one could tell that he was out of his comfort zone. Kudos to van Persie for rebounding from his penalty miss to lift the side to victory, but the team as a whole must get better, must get more consistent to have a chance at winning the league.