First impressions count. That’s a fact of life if you listen to any kind of motivational speaker. “You only get one shot at making a first impression” et cetera et cetera. Yawn.
Sometimes, the first impression you do make can help establish a mood around you and your employment. For example, Big Ron Atkinson took over at struggling Nottingham Forest in 1999, tasked with keeping them in the Premier League. We’ve all seen the clip by this point so I think you know where I’m going with this. Big ole Ronny took himself and plonked his Big Ron arse in the wrong dugout quite literally in front of the world’s press.
And so the tone was set.
We join Ronaldy McAtkinson and his merry bunch of Foresters about TWO WEEKS into his reign where they are hosting the big guy’s former club Manchester United. United at this point are on their way to that treble thing they did a while back and are full of quality players… and Phil Neville.
Nottingham Forest 1-8 Manchester United
A look at the team sheets reveals the gulf in class. United lined up with Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Yorke et al. Forest had Carlton Palmer and Steve Stone. There was a shock raised with me though as obscure former Rangers striker Jean-Claude Darcheville stated up front for Forest alongside Pierre van Hooijdonk.
It was within 30 seconds of watching this that I realised that Big Ron: Tactical Genius was playing big Carlton at centre back. He’d have frankly had more chance of success playing Carlton from Fresh Prince there.
And so it proved when United scored early on. A corner wasn’t properly dealt with and Scholes’ cross was turned home by Dwight Yorke. He snuck in to score that just like he snuck away from commitment. Deep joke.
Then again, I can mock Ron for his tactical choices all I want but Forest did reply quickly. Alan Rogers played an endless 1-2 with Darcheville all the way up the pitch before just pinging one low beyond Schmeichel. Somehow, I get the feeling this is Forest’s peak.
Unsurprisingly, I was right as it took United literally 20 seconds and one long ball to defeat the Great Wall of Carlton. Andrew ‘don’t call me Andy’ Cole beat Dave Beasant (Forest were an early 90s dream team here) to the ball and squeezed his shot home.
United would have one more chance before half time when Cole threw a boot at a loose ball like he was trying to take the head off Teddy Sheringham. He failed. He’s still a miserable twat.
Half time would come in at 2-1 to United but boy oh boy are we in for a treat in the second 45.
Scholes would hit the post within seconds of the second half starting before United made it three. It turned out that The Great Wall of Carlton’s biggest weakness was his own man as he ran into his partner and gifted Cole a free run at Beasant’s save. Poor Dave had flashbacks to the salad cream all those years ago.
In amongst Jaap Stam murdering Steve Stone with a tackle, United made it four. Jesper Blomqvist was made to look like a world beater and his cross was turned onto the post by a Forest defender for Yorke to then tap in. He lurked like my stalker lurks in the bushes. Just as effective too. Fair play.
Fergie would send on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Championship Manager hero John Curtis for the last 20 minutes or so. Ole’s instructions were simple: finish them!
It would become 5-1 when Gary Neville took a break from being a world-class cock bag to give him a tap in from four yards; 6-1 saw Ole fail to chip Beasant before just opting to skin him and score because it was only Dave Beasant; 7-1 was Ole kicking it really hard at poor salad cream fingers and 8-1 was just a bunch of air shots then Ole scoring. Norwegian meanie.
Big Ron would go on to call this a ‘nine goal thriller’ in his post-match interview which went down about as well as suggesting everyone in the City Ground wear Derby tops. He’d announce he was retiring from management in April and go on to racially abuse Marcel Desailly before pissing off every the five Peterborough fans that were around in 2006 with his hilariously bad Big Ron Manager documentary.
I might just watch it for Tales…