JanuaryMan Utd’s season continues to unravel as they go 3-0 down inside half an hour against a resurgent Cardiff, with the Stretford End almost empty before half-time and silent long before even then. Cardiff win 3-1 following a late consolation from Van Persie, but Vincent Tan calls an emergency meeting with senior figures in the club hierarchy (all, by now, members of his immediate family) in light of the second half performance and they agree unanimously that Solskjaer’s position has become untenable. Vincent Tan later installs himself as the new manager.
United’s own problems spread to off the field as the Glazers sell their majority shareholding, leaving the club riddled with debt but desperate to qualify for the Champions League and salvage some dignity from Moyes’s ignominious debut season. Ryan Giggs comes to the rescue on transfer deadline day by melting down his 13 Premier League medals and offering the resulting metal plus Tom Cleverley to Newcastle in exchange for Hatem Ben Arfa. United fans rejoice as the deal goes through with four minutes to spare and the Geordies, although initially incensed, soon acquiesce when Mike Ashley watches Cleverley play and sacks the hapless Joe Kinnear for his role in signing him.
FebruaryAfter West Ham’s losing run stretches to nine games, Karren Brady regretfully fires Big Sam and sets up a televised competition during the international break to decide his successor. Joe Kinnear is an early favourite but some questionable claims on his CV are ruthlessly scrutinised during the interview stage and Malky Mackay is eventually hired as manager. A disgruntled Kinnear leaves in a taxi and tells the camera ‘It was the wrong decision. I ain’t exaggerated anything for centuries.’
Nicklas Bendtner spurns a host of chances as Arsenal lose on away goals to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Wenger remains unruffled, stating somewhat predictably in his post-match press conference ‘Next year our young players will be one year older…with greater mental strength our time will come.’ Piers Morgan leads a social media mutiny against the forlorn Arsenal boss for failing to buy a replacement striker in January with #InArseneWeRust trending worldwide.
Adan Januzaj is deemed eligible to play for England and marks his debut with a first half hat-trick in a friendly against Denmark. With the spot on the right wing nailed down, James Milner subsequently announces his international retirement. BBC Sport pay tribute to Milner’s England career, producing a video montage of him tracking back to little effect and struggling to beat full-backs.