Come back Jimmy Dunne

Monday 31 December 2001

Just how broad is that crossbar at the Putney end? Does it meet the correct specifications? Do we practice trying to hit it? Why not try actually putting in a shot underneath the bar? It's just an idea. After all, Ryan Giggs didn't seem to have too much trouble fluking in a woeful slice with his first attempt in the second half. I suppose I have to admit he can play a bit, but he's no Les Barrett.

As a full time whinger and complainer the game left me feeling a little flat. It was end-to-end stuff and I could never really find my rhythm. Every time I was about to launch into a tirade we would put together a promising move or effectively break up an attack. In the end I was struggling to string two moans together.

Throughout the game there were worrying signs that we are finding our feet in the Premiership and disagreeable doom merchants like myself are being forced on to the back foot. If the team maintains this level of progress we are looking at a mid table spot in arguably the toughest division in the world and I shudder to think about my prospects for the coming years. Am I to be drummed out of the game altogether? It'll be a sad day for Fulham and football when my nagging, mealy-mouthed opinions can no longer be heard.

It's been a disappointing Christmas all round. I just haven't been able to find any consistency with my griping. I was so looking forward to giving out some stick at the Riverside. It's one of the few grounds I haven't whined in. As it turned out, my car broke down again and I wouldn't have made it anyway. I consoled myself with a two hour thirty-five minute whinge at the fourth emergency service instead.

On to Boxing Day and I fell foul of a D.I.Y. accident involving a new power tool and had to miss the game against Charlton. Every Christmas I seem to suffer an injury in the home from a new drill, screwdriver or cardigan that requires hospital treatment. I still managed to give the overworked nursing staff merry hell for eighteen hours but it just isn't the same as slagging off your own team.

To make matters worse it sounds as if the game was a poor one and I could have got in some useful carping. Just my luck. In fact I've missed so many Boxing Day games in the last few years even Ian McGuckin could have sneaked in an appearance and I'd have been none the wiser. Did he really exist? I think the club should come clean.

Obviously I was looking forward to the United game to make up lost griping time. My ten year-old son was in the same position but flew off the handle too early and let loose a totally unacceptable barrage of abuse in the first few minutes and I had to have him ejected from the ground. But, as I say, he's still young and he'll learn.

For large parts of the game on Sunday I was reduced to gnashing my teeth over the performance of some of United's England stars. The Brothers Neville head clashing routine belonged in the circus while the English captain clumsily lost control of the ball on the touchline in the first few minutes. You never saw Johnny Haynes do that. You didn't even see John Lacy do that. Again I suppose I have to admit that despite his early howler David Beckham can also play a bit, but he's no Barry Lloyd.

Now for Derby County and I have to remain positive that there will be plenty to criticise at Pride Park. Happy moaning and a miserable new year to all.

TERRY SPRATT