My life changed forever on Wednesday.
It was a rush of dread and fear I've not experienced since the last kick of last season. Only much, much worse.
I always knew this day would come, but not now. I'd seen the rumours the night before, and even if my head did start to spin somewhat then, it was only until I read the words "Sir Alex Ferguson retires" on Twitter - in a toilet cubical, no less - when it stung.
It's sort of a feeling of 'Wait, so we're still supposed to go on? There is life still to exist?!'
Though I'm not dumb enough to believe in a higher being, I sometimes think I'm just meant to support United; they're like a happy pill of relief for all the shit I've gone through.
He was made United boss a month after I was born. I don't know what it's like to support another team; all I've experienced is glory and, well, heartbreak from so nearly achieving glory again.
It's not easy being a United fan when the expectation is to win all the time. Because when we don't, it just feels wrong. And it was Alex who instilled that in us.
When Beckham left, God was still there. When van Nistelrooy left, God was still there. When Ronaldo left, God was still there. Now, God is not there.
I like that Utd have already announced a successor; it's sensible to act quick. I also like the successor; anyone who Alex backs is fine by me.
But see, Moyes can win the Champions League, the Premier League, even bring back Ronaldo. But his blood isn't United-red and though I know Ferguson's wasn't at first, he's all I've ever known.
I'll forever proudly hold my seat in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. It just doesn't feel the same anymore.
Saturday, May 11
Wednesday, May 8
I just want to say thank you.
Football, Manchester United rather, is a massive, massive part of my life. The memories you've given me - both good and bad - will stay with me forever.
I could not have asked for a better leader. No-one has your determination, your power, your drive. I feel inspired because of your mentality to succeed and that's in my life, not just football.
Thank you for Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Keane, Robson, Ince, Kanchelskis, Schmeichel, McClair, Beckham, Bruce, Pallister, Cantona, Irwin, Solskjaer, Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Stam, RVN, RVP, De Gea, Van Der Sar, Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Evans, Jones, Smalling, Chicharito, Carrick, Valencia, Rooney, Ronaldo and the rest.
Thank you for the 13 Premier Leagues, 2 Champions Leagues, 5 FA Cups and 4 League Cups. Thank you for the times it didn't work out; it only made us stronger.
My favourite memory of all, though, has to be standing behind the goal in Moscow in 2008 and seeing Van der Sar save Anelka's penalty… what a feeling. My other favourites are watching Ronaldo's debut v Bolton, Owen's last-minute winner v City and even RVP's title-winning hat-trick v Villa the other week.
I appreciate how lucky I am to support our club and can't even begin to imagine what it's like not to be a Manchester United fan.
I always knew this day would come and fuck, it hurts. It will take me time to get my head around it and, honestly, United just won't ever mean the same to me.
I will forever hold my season ticket in your company, the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. I can't believe I got to experience your era; thank you so much.
Wednesday, May 1
Frank Turner 'Tape Deck Heart' (Xtra Mile Recordings)
He is not a Tory. He is not a BNP apologist. And he is not a whore who sold his soul to Wembley Arena and scattered the blood-soaked internal remains to anyone who bought Million Dead's debut album on release day. Alright, fine… you can have the last one. But on 'Tape Deck Heart' (scuse the shocking title), Frank Turner's fifth solo album, the smiley 'lil folk-punkster is about as straight to the point as it gets; heartbroken, angry and, if his promo campaign goes as it means, about to launch himself headfirst into another stab at those arenas… if not more. 'Four Simple Words' is the best thing here and about sums up his whole shtick ("Forget about your bitching and remember that you're blessed, punk is for the kids who never fit in with the rest"). Simplistic, sure… but sometimes that's all you need.
Monday, April 1
The Strokes 'Comedown Machine' (RCA)
A new album from The Strokes will always be something worth getting giddy over. They saved the world from taking Badly Drawn Boy (too) seriously and made the Gallagher Bros look about as cool as Screech Powers when they surfaced in the early '00s. But after Angles - that bummer of a last album which, amid the band supposedly hating each other and their gazillions of side-projects, took five years to arrive - the suspense for a fifth record is sadly met with as much suspicion as it is confidence. What they've always done well, though, is a lead single. And 'One Way Trigger' (not technically Comedown Machine's lead single, but the first song released) is spot-on; singer Julian Casablancas sissies his deep tones to Timberlake territory aboard classically perky guitar lines and refuses to "settle down out of town, find a dream, shut it down". This back-to-fun mantra is let down by the okay-ish actual lead single 'All the Time', however, with a riff eerily dull and zigzagging synths we can't help but feel we've heard before. Still, the great news is we have some of the best Strokes songs for years on here. 'Welcome to Japan's enlightened dance grooves are sharp enough to soundtrack the city of Paris; JC's girl quarrels ("I will not wait up for you anymore so you can ask me if something is wrong") on the dreamy 'Chances' are absorbing; the sentimental, organ-led '80's Comedown Machine' is boldly mushy but it works. Not since second album Room on Fire have this band sounded this fresh and in unison... what a relief. There are times when their playfulness gets the better of them, naturally. '50/50' is a little too short to fall for and its grimy guitars feel lost among everything else that's going on. And final track 'Call it Fate, Call it Karma' is just strange; its pulpy keys take us to the realm of Boardwalk Empire only after everyone's dead and the music box is on its way out. Most of Comedown Machine, though, is The Strokes charged, adventurous and with their heads on straight. It's not their finest ever work, but it's their best in a while.
Friday, March 1
Frightened Rabbit 'Pedestrian Verse' (Atlantic Records)
Ahhh, finally. We've been teased like one of Taylor Swift's pet boyfies for years, but after three records increasingly alluding they had that special something only not wholly breaking through, Frightened Rabbit's thick-bearded leader Scott Hutchison is declaring things like "This is the best album we've made" and, you know what? He couldn't be more right. Not even half of the dauntless, swanky keys-powered 'Acts Of Man' passes before it's obvious just how confident this band have become; Hutchison using it to come clean and lust after serenity ("I am just like all the rest of them: sorry, selfish, trying to improve") makes for a perfect starting point, too. 'Backyard Skills', meanwhile, chugs along amid such a rapture of hazy, sugar-glazed guitars, you wonder how The National never managed to think it up themselves. 'The Woodpile' couldn't be more impeccable if it tried - blaring yet elegant soft-rocking glee foiling Hutchison's howls of loneliness - but it's on 'Late March, Death March' where his world-weary charm really runs riot; he disputes "drunk priests' staggering sermons" and spits "There isn't a god so I save my breath, pray silence for the road ahead". Their hubbub may be broader and ambitious but it's still gritty, though it's Hutchison's charged real talk that makes this album so compelling. On 'Dead Now', via unexpectedly jivey guitar lines, he yells "There is something wrong with me" like Selkirk's own proudly unburdening Walter White. 'State Hospital' probably has the prettiest furore on here, and 'Nitrous Gas' is one Hugh Jackman monologue away from being more morbidly heartbreaking than Les Mis. Drowning the darkest of places in spirited indie is by no means a new enterprise, but there's doing it blandly and there's doing it like this. Maybe we could lose the two needless semi-song intervals ('Housing (in)/(out)'); still, they're not intrusive enough to take points away from Pedestrian Verse - the album Frightened Rabbit were always supposed to make. Being a cult band is cool and everything, but that's nothing on sounding like you're about to take over the world.