LIVERPOOL welcome Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Monday night, in what is promising to be a big occasion under the floodlights at Anfield. We spoke to Ste Armstrong from fanzine United We Stand to get his thoughts ahead of the game.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and United We Stand.
Twenty-eight years ago a young fresh faced lad from Urmston called Andy Mitten borrowed £20 off his mam, wrote some stuff, got it copied and stapled together and sold it. And kept on doing it.
His editing, leadership and journalistic ability have not only kept a printed mag going this long, it is a printed mag still doing well in a very digital age. There’s a great team of writers ranging from respected journalists to former players who, along with dickheads like me, go home and away every week take a lot of pride in what is produced.
It’s available digitally, in shops and to subscribers but there is nothing like the feeling of buying your mag at the ground. It’s good for a chat too. ‘Is that the programme’ is a frequent question as is ‘where can I get a drink’, ‘where’s the ticket office’ and on one occasion I was asked ‘where is the Stretford End’. If that wasn’t bad enough Gareth Roberts was stood with me at the time. He let us off the hook by keeping it under his hat, and only mentioned on the website, podcast and in that fucking book. The twat.
Out of the fanzine came our infamous coach ‘The Monkey Bus’. That’s still going after 26 seasons which is quite incredible. One day we’ll do a book about it and perhaps enjoy some reward for that after we have all been released from prison.
We have pushed the podcast this last couple of seasons. Andy does insightful, informative ones with various key people in the game. I do really shite ones with the UWS sellers after the game at Old Trafford and an even worse one on the coach to away games. They’ve become incredibly popular and we are made up with the acclaim we have had for basically sticking a phone under someone’s nose and asking them for some opinion on the game.
UWS cares about fanzine culture and we’d like to think that we epitomize the really great things about what going to the match with your mates is all about. I’m not sure if he ever did pay his mam back.
What are your personal best and worst moments at Anfield?
Without question my best ever Anfield moment was the 3-3 on Easter Monday in 1988. We were down to 10 men after Colin Gibson was sent off, which wasn’t a particularly bad thing if I’m being honest.
What was bad was that Steve McMahon was just bossing everything and at 3-1 you sort of got the sense that a massive hiding was on the way.
On came Norman Whiteside, who totally understood what this fixture meant and he took McMahon out with a fucking brilliant piece of shithousery. A proper horrible stamp on his ankle and Liverpool simply caved in after it and Strachan (who’s a nob it has to be said) got the cigar smoking equaliser.
Last minute winners are all well and good but you can’t beat physical assaults on players. A loaded gun always beats four aces as they say.
Worst? The 4-0 in September of 1990 hurt. We’d won the cup in the summer and felt like Ferguson was getting us moving. Fuck me we got taken apart and never have we felt so far away from getting to where Liverpool were back then.
Some twat tried to knife me outside as well. Had a great new coat on that day and he ruined it. I was cool with the knife thing but ripping that coat proper pissed me off. I still moan about it now, something my wife reckons I need to get over.
United are currently sixth, with four wins from seven, how do you think it’s gone so far?
Its coming together. The manager is taking his time and having a good look at everyone and I am enjoying watching him piece the jigsaw together. Getting beat by those tramps at home wasn’t great and we were shite against Watford.
Outside of that we’ve played well in large parts and you can see who he’s starting to like and who he thinks might be surplus. He’s spent lots but that was needed. Most fans just want the boss…to be the boss and to take care of whatever needs sorting. He’s doing that and so far, despite what you could rightly call an average at best start to the season he’s doing a lot of things well.
Given how it’s gone, are fans still confident of a good season?
Fans are rightly confident. Should we be competing for the league with that manager and squad? Absolutely. Will we? You get the sense that this might be a fourth season of trying to transition out of the Ferguson era but you also feel that this manager knows what to do and how to do it.
You can apply a lot of United now and the impact on the supporters to your situation last season. Jürgen Klopp didn’t have a pre-season and was underwhelming on the field. Off it he’s stoked the fires and got everyone buzzing and on the same page with the same agenda. The product of that is what you are seeing this season.
You can chuck the amount we’ve spent in and it’s a fair argument. But new managers and players, regardless of their talent have to bed in and that’s where we are at.
People will cry louder that we’ve spent half a billion pounds. I couldn’t care less as I understand, given my job involves leading several thousand people, that results don’t happen overnight. Structure building and process implementation can and that’s going fine.
A good season for this season will be like what was a good season for you last year. Getting straight and having a pop at a cup and then we’ll kick on next season.
What is the feeling like towards Jose Mourinho?
He must have a contract with the Ts and Cs written on a roll of fucking wallpaper. He’s trying so hard to not be the cunt he was at Chelsea so he’s been very well received.
A lot of people, apart from the board, saw him as the only man to replace Ferguson so he had many on his side already.
He’s not David Moyes, sat there in awe of his United mousemat in his nice shiny office, or Louis Van Gaal who just wasn’t wired up right. He’s not overawed. He’s not a figure of ridicule in house or out of it. He’s a world class coach, attractive to world class players and someone with a point to prove. We like all that.
What do you make of the criticism of Wayne Rooney?
Wayne Rooney will never not be one of my favourite ever United players. He’s been a sensational player for us during our most successful ever era.
Unfortunately for him, he’s become the first player ever in the history of the game to start slowing down and not being as good as he used to be in the 15th year of his career at the very top level.
He wasn’t really forgiven by many for the transfer request, which is fucking pathetic really. It’s like he’s the first person ever to have said I don’t like my job and I’m thinking of a change. No one was arsed when he turned on his boyhood club to come here were they. It really fucking winds me up. He made a mistake, said he was sorry and then worked hard at trying to put it right.
His form, however, has been poor. He doesn’t deserve to be in the side and he isn’t. I think he’s taken that well and handled it very professionally.
I would like him to fuck England off. I wanted him to do that when he was 18, to be honest. If he does he can get back in the United side and carry on being a key person in the dressing room and on the field.
If he doesn’t, and carries on hiking it round the world to play pointless games in front of loads of people who voted leave, then he’s probably finished at Old Trafford. I will forever be in his debt for a contribution that outside of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville is without equal.
From what you’ve seen, what are your thoughts on the current Liverpool side?
Good sides with great managers beat great sides with average managers. Liverpool have become that. I should add here that I don’t tend to watch football a lot so I can’t sit here and offer an authoritative opinion of how you are playing. If horses are racing I can’t tear myself away from that to watch football.
I do, however, pay attention to what lads who do watch games say and on a recent UWS podcast there was a unanimous opinion among people who had been drinking a lot that Liverpool were currently playing the best football in the country.
I don’t take much notice of glory performances. Most 4-0 wins are 2-0 wins and then another one after the white flag has gone up.
I take real notice of slug fests at tough grounds where results are ground out. Fulham away for us years ago with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring late springs to mind.
I listened to your Swansea game in the car and that seemed to be one of those types of situations. I thought then ‘oh hello’. That was the game I became convinced Liverpool were in the thick of this title race and not likely to be going away from it.
Which Liverpool player worries you the most, ahead of the game?
I’m not a worrier so it’s the wrong question to ask me. I’m going to pretend I’ve just been asked ‘which player do I want someone to snap in two as quickly as possible’ if that’s alright.
So the player I would like quickly snapped into two is the very brilliant Philippe Coutinho and then Daniel Sturridge who when in the right frame of mind is very hard to play against.
James Milner played for Leeds and Manchester City. He needs crunching into just for that.
That Sadio Mane is pretty good as well, isn’t he. Fuck me, we’d be down to seven men in no time if I was manager of this so it’s best left to the experts.
Where are you expecting both teams to finish?
Hard one that. Two from Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and United aren’t making the Champions League. As it stands, based on performances, it does look like United are favourites for fifth.
If, as you would expect, United get a run going, Arsenal turn into Arsenal when it gets tasty and Spurs to fuck it all up at the death there’s a possibility that the top three comprises of United, City and Liverpool.
The bookies, who I pay a lot of attention, to suggest that City and Liverpool are going to fight it out, which is another fucking awful proposition really.
Can you give us a score prediction for the game?
If both teams turn up and mirror the form that has gone before now then Liverpool win. If United deal with the atmosphere and avoid shitting their white shorts, like they did in the Europa League, and soak up the frenzy of attack that they will encounter in minutes one to 20 then I think Mourinho will take that and then go to work like the cunning fox he is.
You wanted a score, didn’t you? If it’s 0-0 at 20 minutes I’ll be confident of a good draw or pinching it by a goal. If it’s 2-0 after that time then it’ll end 3-1 and Nemanja Vidic, despite having left three years ago, will get sent off.
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So the best person the mancs can get to write for their premier fan mag is someone who doesn’t ‘tend watch a lot of football’. Funny tha.
It’s not unusual for MU fans- funny enough- so, so many of them just seem to live in their own Truman Show and only watch their team – and that’s only if they’re winning or challenging. I call a lot of them the Crass of ’93 because so many newbie fans came in then and knew nothing only winning- it’s almost like they want their money back when they lose- that’s not in the script Dad!! I wanna go home:-(
As for other teams like ours- as he said- they hear about them but never watch them.
It’s quite incredible how blissfully ignorant they are of others and their football formations, squads, players even.
Hopefully he’ll learn more than he wanted to tonight.
Really enjoyed the piece Josh- and he’s alright….just a Mancs…what can you say!!
Except- Up the only Reds!!
Chap seemed like he was up for a bit of banter, which I can respect. He’s 110% correct about Vidic too.
First one of these I’ve read and thought this fella is horrible. I’m not sure if it’s him being honest, my innate dislike of Man U or just the fact that he is a tit. Sad to say it, but it’s just reinforced my anti Man U bias and hope that we batter them on Monday. As they say, no love lost on this one. Up the mighty Man U killing Reds.
Listen to the podcasts. He’s alright and he knows a thing or two about football.
I’m far from horrible. Definitely honest. And possibly a tit. Sorry you feel that way though.
Fair enough – clearly hasty on my part and fired up for the game. Respect to him for giving the time and being honest.
Leeuke is absolutely right. This guy appears more interested in injuring our players than football being played. Probably one of those that cheers when someone does get hurt.
Ste sounds like he’s sound on the shows. It’s not like we shy away from a few choice words when discuss them, is it? If I have any criticism of this piece – and the big preview piece, too, by the way – it is that there is basically no actual football being discussed. How will the team set up? What tactics? What key players? Don’t make the padding the product, boys.
I thought what he said was fair, and it wasn’t like he came in saying, ‘Now what I wanna see is that Mane have his legs broke…’, that wasn’t what he was saying. I think it’s fair enough a Utd fan, one who comes across well on the podcast also, coming on here and giving his thoughts, and trying to have a bit of humour also.
I’m a LFC fan and I listen to The Wrap and UWS. They complement each pther in enjoyment stakes particularly when Utd lose. Ste Armstrong makes me laugh out loud reading the article witty bastard and the monkey bus bunch are witty fuckers and defo worth a listen. I look forward to hearing them when we roast them Monday.
To those taking offence.
GET A FUCKING GRIP!
Jesus, banter definitely lost on certain people.
He walks round snow covered gardens at 3am in massive wooden feet
Probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve actually listened to a few of the UWS podcasts. Steve sounds like a laugh and Andy Mittens stuff is very interesting and dare I say it I’ve sort of enjoyed them. The Manc twats.
Come on. He was winding us up. Having a laugh. What would you say interviewed on a Manc supporter site?
(Very entertaining read, thanks.)
I liked the article, it was funny and not really meant to be a serious pre game analysis. Steve always comes across really well in the pods and I like reading things where I can hear the writer saying the words in my head, which was definitely the case here. Good work chaps.
Chill out lads, he’s alright is Steve, they could have got Terry Fucking Christian.
He hasn’t seen a lot of us and that’s fine, he’s only been honest, the injury talk is the way certain people still talk (maybe it’s an over-25, no over-30s thing?!).
I’ve only seen them in the Manchester Derby too as I’m only focused on us this season.
Terry Christians sound ya know. He did like a stand up thing in Motel last year and me and my missus had a smoke with him outside. I loved the way he kept saying to us ‘that was shit wasn’t it?’ and we had to reassure him it wasn’t, haha. He came across as a nice bloke and I think he’s funny. I liked him back on the Word and I like him on Twitter. He just loves Utd and he’s a bit of a twat. TAW should get him on to wind us up.
P.s 19 people turned up for that show in Liverpool, haha, so you’re probably not alone in your opinion. He kept saying, I had 500 in Bradford, honestly.
Talksport long memories again
One particular favourite memory may seem a bit random but it was during Dirk’s hattrick game. I was sick of hearing about Berbatov’s hattrick 6 months before (it came against Hodgson, it didn’t count).
During that melee Luis Suarez pulled Da Silva’s stupid hair. It’s a bit daft but Da Silva was really confused by it.
Helps that we smashed them that day, in the Anfield sun, and the Kop sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the King and his delighted face and reaction.
I know it’s an act tbf Robin and he does it well. I just can’t tolerate him though maybe I’m being harsh as I go back to his Talksport show with Mick Quinn (what a combo), I’m sure he may be ok in person.
Respect your opinion though mate
I totally get where you’re coming from mate. I mean, he’s clearly a twat but I think he’s probably ok. I didn’t hear him on Talk Sport as I’ve never listened to that station.
I just think it would be great if TAW got him on a show. Imagine the fume in the comments. He certainly knows how to wind people up haha and people on here are easily wound up.
Yeah I agree with you I suppose
I think some of these comments only show the different types of football fans. An example would be, the different reactions among Liverpool fans when Gerrard got sent off after 30 seconds against them. Some thought it was irresponsible and he’d let the team down. Others, like me, thought ‘well in’. I was pleased he’d showed some fight unlike the others. I was pleased he was trying to leave a mark on the Utd players. Truth is, I was pleased with results this weekend but the thing that bought me most joy was when I saw Alderweireld had suffered an injury. I don’t know the extent of it but I hoped it was career threatening. Some won’t like that but I couldn’t give a monkeys. I wouldn’t think that had I committed the foul that led to the injury but I didn’t so it’s one of them. It happens in all teams and my view is better them than us.
The other thing is, as was pointed out in the absolutely fantastic ‘The Rivals’ podcast on here this week, for a lot of us, we got into football so passionately because of rivalry and tribalism. No offence but it’s difficult for a kid from Massachusetts, Melbourne, Malmo or Maidenhead to understand. It doesn’t really leave you just because you’ve supposedly mellowed with age. Personally, I find it disappointing that we would criticise someone who clearly lives for his club but has given his time on numerous occasions to give us excellent insight into how those bastards think. I’d been writing Utd off because I’ve looked at their results. Reading this has given me a different opinion and next time I’m down the pub I won’t be saying to mates and even Utd fans that Utd are wank and a bunch of prima donnas. I’ll be saying Mourinho might be building something unlike his previous appointments.
Re Stevie, I still love the blood and thunder but I was very disappointed in him that day as it was just mindless and needless at that time though I admit I was never an angel on the pitch myself.
I guess I look back on the defeat and may now look back and have enjoyed it if 10 men beat them instead, no matter how average they were.
Wish Stevie had thought
‘I’m pissed off at being on the bench, we’re crap but they’re even worse, I’m getting 2 goals here and we’re winning. Fuck you Brendan’.
Re Utd, I can’t watch them and I hate Mourinho with a passion and the sooner he fails and we never see him again the better. And £180m or not, it is early days still. I’m not sticking up for them btw, just so focussed on us right now.
Where he was a bit daft was he did it right in front of the ref twice. I thought he could have been a bit cleverer tbh but he lost his head. I’d be a hypocrite to say anything because at half time I was absolutely livid with our lack of fight. The best scenario would have been he got away with it and was able to stamp on a few more during the half. They were there for the taking too even when Mata got the second if the truth be known. 2 shit teams that day.
Regarding Mourinho, I must admit I’m a bit of a sucker for the pantomime of the Prem and when he came I thought he was ok. A bit of a knob but entertaining. I’d warmed to him after the Porto match at O.T. I know Liverpool fans shouldn’t really say that but it’s true. I liked the way he’d used us as an example to have a pop at Chelsea fans about how shit they were too and even some of the older stories about when he used to translate for Bobby Robson but add his own opinions rather than directly translate, haha . When he returned though he was a different man. Boring, tiresome and basically a complete dick. The celebration in 13/14 at Anfield made me wanna kill him. I despise the man now with a passion. Oh well mate, it’s nearly tomorrow. There is one way we can seriously hurt him and that’s get the 3 points tomorrow. Up the Reds.
Always enjoy Steves input, witty and honest and I can totally get that Whiteside moment being his top Anfield memory,
Souness leaving one on someone was as memorable as some goals for me.
Enjoyed that. It’s the ‘slugfests’ you have to pay attention to. Very true.
I think this game has the potential to turn into one of those. Be interesting to see who stands up, on either side.