So, that was 2021, a strange yet momentous year for all United fans. With that now behind us it’s time to look forward to what the next twelve months might hold, with UTAS very own Nostradamus.
Joe Ironside nets his twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth goals of the season in a three-nil thumping of Portsmouth, meaning the U’s travel to moneyed relegation fodder Newcastle in high spirits. As predicted, the Magpies roll over to another defeat as Big Joe puts them to the sword. Newcastle immediately offer Paul Barry a blank cheque for the United striker, and a deal is done for seventy grand, a five percent sell-on and a pre-season friendly.
With Ironside gone to Tyneside, United are predicted to struggle, but go on a fantastic run of form, galvanised by the cup run. Early Feb sees the U’s dispatch Kidderminster to seal a place in the Fifth Round and a money-spinning fifth round tie at Old Trafford is the prize. Our excitement is tempered by the announcement that referee John Brandwood has been called out of retirement due to the COVID crisis and will be in charge of the tie. P*sh sack Darren Ferguson after failing to win a match all year
Cup fever hits Cambridge as the U’s once again travel to Old Trafford. The match itself is uneventful until the seventy-ninth minute when Wes Hoolahan dances around the Manchester defence, Cruyff-turns Ronaldo, then nutmegs him as he recovers, before lashing in the winning goal in the top corner. The move is officially renamed the Hoolahan Turn, and Ronaldo decides to immediately retire from the game, heading to America to sit out his remaining years in a jail cell with plenty of time to reflect on just how good Wessi is. United continue to pick up results in the League, including a stunning win at Hillsborough courtesy of a goal in the fifth minute from youth team prospect Benjamin Trevor. The end of the month sees United in the FA Cup quarter finals, where a trip to Arsenal is delayed by fifteen minutes after twelve thousand U’s fans try to gain entry to a block of flats in Highbury, before realising the game is now played just around the corner at the Emirates. United win 2-0 thanks to a Harvey Knibbs double, prompting a number of posts on the U’s message board accusing him of stealing a living.
P*sh reappoint Darren Ferguson after being turned down by every manager in the country. United fans fill out Portman Road and the Stadium of Light and witness big victories that sees us scrape into the automatic promotion spots. We head to Wembley where the FA Conspiracy against United is in full swing as the FA Cup semi-final draw has paired us against a galacticos-era Real Madrid. Thankfully David Beckham petulantly kicks out at Paul Digby and gets sent off, which means United are able to take the game to penalties. The FA find a little-known rule which states the U’s goalkeeper must be blindfolded for the shootout, but somehow Mitov manages to get his hand to the decisive spot-kick from Raul to send us to the final. The news of United’s first FA Cup Final appearance is ignored by the CEN until a week later, where it is mentioned briefly at the end of a story about a new flavour of Quality Street chocolates.
P*sh sack Darren Ferguson again. United head back to Wembley where the FA rulebook has again been subject to a couple of last minute changes. The U’s are allowed to field one player, whereas opponents Man City are allowed an extra man. Wes Hoolahan dazzles the stadium and puts United 3-0 up by half time, before the game finishes 3-3. Hoolahan is sent off after sixty minutes. Man City win the FA Cup by default, where Pep Guardiola uses his post-match interview to decry the fact that they had to play so many games this season, before promptly jetting off for Qatar to play nine friendlies against other members of the City Football Empire in ten days.
A quiet month at the Abbey, the only news being the news that Liam O’Neil retires from football in order to take up a new position as vaccine researcher for AstraZeneca.
Transfer window reopens! Spearheading United’s charge in the Championship are Shay Given, Seamus Coleman, John O’Shea, James McClean and Robbie Keane, all signed on the recommendation of Wes Hoolahan. Work begins on demolishing the Grafton Centre, in order to build a new football stadium in the city centre.
Disappointment for the U’s as news that the new Grafton Centre Stadium will be used exclusively by the University football teams, condemning the U’s to another year of searching for a new home. Sites in Duxford, Cambourne and St Ives are all turned down, before a suitable bit of land in Ely is identified. The City Council commit to building this stadium as long as a new underground hypersonic rail link is built to service it. Plans are drawn up and costed at six billion pounds. Paul Barry hopes to be in the new stadium for the start of the 23/24 season.
Paul Barry is back in front of the cameras, to clarify that he meant the 2123/24 season and not 2023/24 for the new stadium move. United adapt to life in the Championship well, despite FA rules only awarding us one point for a win, and minus three for every defeat. B*ro sack Darren Ferguson again, despite never officially reappointing him.
B*ro appoint Darren Ferguson. “There’s only one man who can get us out of this league” states DMAC, confidently. Mark Bonner wins manager of the month, leading U’s to five victories, keeping them well clear of the relegation zone, thanks in part to a on-fire Harvey Knibbs, who is chasing down Paul Mullin’s goalscoring record. Liam O’Neil single-handedly discovers an antidote to COVID-19 that is 100% successful, a number of posters on the United message board still refuse to give him any credit for this.
Harvey Knibbs scores a brace to put United into the playoffs, and overtakes Paul Mullin’s record of goals in a season with twenty games left to play. In a poll on the message board, Striker is voted as the position we need to strengthen most in the next transfer window.
Wes Hoolahan wins the Ballon D’Or by the biggest margin in history. Harvey Knibbs stars for England in Qatar as we storm to the final, scoring a record fourteen goals along the way. On the message board U’s fans suggest he should be released as he’s still not the finished article. In the end, he signs for PSG for a world record Seven Billion Pounds. Kwesi Appiah signs a pre-contract agreement to join in the January transfer window, and the club announce with the funds from Knibbs transfer they have purchased the Kings College site and will be building a new stadium in the city centre. Mark Bonner signs a four year contract extension.