The commendable unity displayed by Manchester United fans towards manager, David Moyes, looks set to be shattered with the news that a group of supporters intend to fly over Old Trafford with an anti-Moyes message.
The Republik of Mancunia fans’ website have raised £840 to hire the plane with the message: ‘Wrong One – Moyes Out’ to be displayed during Saturday’s Premier League home match against Aston Villa.
It is a direct response to the Stretford End Flags group, who say they will not take down the ‘Chosen One’ banner inside Old Trafford.
The Republik of Mancunia website said: “The message is a response to the Stretford End Flags banner which reads ‘The Chosen One’. Following United’s 3-0 defeat against City yesterday, stewards were sent to protect the banner at full time, after there were concerns that fans would want to remove it.
“As yet, there have been no public protests within the ground, home or away, but it is expected that will change at the weekend when United face Villa.”
Andrew Kilduff of Stretford End Flags told the Mail that the group had thought about taking the banner down but ultimately decided to keep it up.
“It’s rare that we commission banners for a player or manager who has just arrived,” he said. “Certainly it’s almost unheard of that we would do one for someone who hadn’t won or achieved anything with us. But we thought the David Moyes situation was different.
“When he arrived, we had been urged by Sir Alex Ferguson to support him and this was just one of the ways we felt we could do that. Now we are under some pressure to take it down.
“The words “The Chosen One” came from a rank-and-file United fan and we took it and ran with it. It was appropriate that it was first hung for the visit of Jose Mourinho and Chelsea at the first home game of the season. We knew the ‘Special One’ had wanted the United job and this was our way of telling him we had chosen someone else.
“The feedback was largely good. A few people moaned that Moyes shouldn’t get a banner until he had won something but on the whole the banner proved very popular, both as a concept and in terms of the wording.
“All in all it probably cost about £500 to make and hang and all that cash came from supporters. Some may donate a pound, someone else may donate £50. It’s the way it always is.
“Over the course of the season there have been some moans and groans about results but the talk about removing the banner only really gathered pace on the Sunday and Monday ahead of the Olympiakos home game. People started to get in touch on Twitter and other social media asking us to take it down.
“As we speak, there are still calls for us to remove it. There are polls saying that more than 90 per cent of fans want it down. But 90 per cent of how many? Is that truly representative of the average United fan? I’m not sure it is.
“What we don’t want to do is anything knee-jerk. So the banner will stay for now. It will stay for the Villa game on Saturday and it will stay for Bayern Munich. As I said before, the focus should be on the team ahead of the Bayern game in particular.
“There has been nothing particularly visible or verbal against Moyes during games at Old Trafford. No ‘Moyes Out’ flags or anything. So we don’t think it’s our place to initiate some kind of campaign for his sacking by taking his banner down.”
To be fair to the majority of Manchester United fans, the continued support for Moyes over the course of a turbulent first season for the club, has been nothing short of remarkable. Only during Tuesday’s 3-0 home defeat to neighbours Manchester City have any murmurings of discontent among the fanbase been audible. Even them the focus of much of their ire has been not Moyes, but his predecessor and the man who bequeathed him the most poisoned of chalices, Sir Alex Ferguson.