United fans signal Moyes protest at Villa match

Flypast stunt would be first concerted effort by supporters to remove manager

Stewards direct Manchester United fans away from United manager David Moyes (centre) during the Manchester derby defeat to rivals City. Photograph: EPA

Stewards direct Manchester United fans away from United manager David Moyes (centre) during the Manchester derby defeat to rivals City. Photograph: EPA


Manchester United manager David Moyes’s problems have intensified after it emerged some of the club’s supporters are planning to send an aircraft over Old Trafford during their game against Aston Villa tomorrow with a banner calling for his dismissal.

Arrangements are being made for a flypast with the message “Wrong One – Moyes Out” as a response to the “Chosen One” banner that has hung from the Stretford End since the former Everton manager succeeded Alex Ferguson.

United would not be drawn on the threat, but there is no doubt the Chosen One banner is causing controversy. Some fans had earlier called for the group that made the banner – Stretford End Flags – to remove it following the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool almost two weeks ago.

Derby defeat
If it goes ahead, the stunt will be the first concerted effort by supporters to remove Moyes from his position in a season that has seen the champions slump to seventh, 18 points off the top and guaranteed their worst return in the Premier League era.

The 3-0 derby defeat at home to Manchester City on Tuesday was the 10th time United have lost in the league this season and it finished with isolated shouts for Moyes to go.

Stewards were positioned in front of the Chosen One banner to prevent anyone pulling it down and one fan had to be ushered from the dugout area after venting his feelings to Moyes. Ferguson, sitting in the directors’ box, was also subjected to the anger of supporters, having been the man who identified Moyes for the job.

Supporters on the Red Issue website have clubbed together to raise almost €1,200 for the flypast and insist they are going ahead with the protest, approximately five to 10 minutes before kick-off, despite a mixed reaction from other fans.

United’s position is that they remain fully supportive of Moyes, despite Sir Bobby Charlton’s admission earlier in the week that they had played “really badly”.

Polarised supporters
Moyes’s first season in charge has been so ignominious the usually supportive Manchester Evening News has taken to lampooning him, running an “excuses gallery”.

However, the idea of hiring an aircraft – Burnley’s fans did something similar when they played Blackburn Rovers earlier in the month – has polarised opinion among the club’s supporters.

Pete Molyneux, who raised the infamous “Ta-ra Fergie” banner when Ferguson was in danger of losing his job in December 1989, believes Moyes should be given another season. “Since Sir Matt Busby retired I’ve seen seven men take up the mantle. And only Ron Atkinson got United playing winning, attractive football in his first season,” he said.

“Wilf McGuinness, Frank O’Farrell and Dave Sexton never managed it and Tommy Docherty took us into Division Two before finding the magic formula. Now trust me, it was as bad under Fergie as it is today. And for much longer.

“All were given the courtesy of time and money before judgment was passed. That’s the United way. Moyes deserves another season before we start tearing down the citadel.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Giggs and team mates from the famous United ‘Class of ’92 have agreed a deal to buy Salford City who play in the muddy and unglamorous world of English soccer’s eighth tier.

Giggs, along with Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, will complete the deal for the humble Northern Premier League Division One North club later in the year, according to a statement on the club’s Twitter page. Guardian Service

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