Pep & Jose Chronicles, Chapter 3

One man is settled. The other is not. Both have felt the Manchester rain. As the golden age of Guardiola and Mourinho rolls on, it's time to explore the city's dual obsession with football and music.

By Andy Mitten

November 17, 2016

Bleacher Report

"Jo-say Mour-in-ho! Jo-say Mour-in-ho!" sang Manchester United fans at their Chelsea adversaries on the other side of a line of stewards at Stamford Bridge.

The home fans laughed. They seemed unsure what to make of rivals singing about a man they'd long idolised. Soon enough they'd be celebrating his team's 4-0 loss.

Mourinho is still finding his feet in Manchester. His failure to stay in anything more permanent than a hotel made headlines—but he didn't help himself by using the word "disaster" to describe his living situation in Manchester. That was a surprise to those who pay his wages, but then Mourinho frequently goes off message when he speaks to the media.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has a different set of issues. Though his apartment was one bedroom short to accommodate the close family members who recently visited, he's settled and enjoying his job. Guardiola thinks the English see football in a different way to anywhere he's worked before. They present a challenge, and he likes that.

City are behind Liverpool and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League, but Guardiola's side were lauded after beating Barcelona 3-1 in the Champions League. That result came in response to a 4-0 loss at Camp Nou, part of a run that saw City go six games without a win, leading one Spanish journalist to ask Pep: "Are you the man responsible for the loss at Camp Nou?"

Knowing the journalist represented Madrid-based El Chiringuito de Jugones, an organisation frequently hostile to Guardiola, he simply replied: "Yes, I am." Catalan and English journalists usually get much more expansive answers, with Guardiola keen for the English journalists to know there is a difference between his native Catalan and Spanish.

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Guardiola is an even more impressive speaker away from press conferences. He's happy to examine tactics and offer more depth on his players. He greatly admires Fernandinho, whose contract is running down, and thinks a team containing three Fernandinhos would win the league. He'll be recommending the Brazilian for a contract renewal—a decision that will be taken by City's board.

With Guardiola, it's not just about his players. His Mancunian assistant, Brian Kidd, doesn't have much say in City's tactics, but he's appreciated as a man who knows Manchester's culture and history, and knows the rest of the country too. When City go to White Hart Lane or Stamford Bridge, assistants like Mikel Arteta, who came through Barcelona's youth system, will have a few connections. But Kidd will know 30 or more people, from the concierge to the tea ladies.

If City's youth team gets drawn against a team few of the Spanish speakers know much about, it'll be Kidd who fills in the details. For a man so closely connected to United, he's proved invaluable to City and to Guardiola. 

Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge amid a mood of optimism.

"Ladies here, jackets open," cried the senior Chelsea steward as the bulk of 2,700 Manchester United fans pushed forward into the Shed End, 20 minutes before kick-off.

The away tickets were for the Shed Upper or Lower sections. Thanks to fan campaigns, they were capped at £30 for adults. Chelsea were charging United fans £25 as long ago as 1993, when they were a mid-ranking side playing to 20,000 in a decrepit, crumbling Stamford Bridge.

On the concourse of the upper section, decorated with posters of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the non-playing Wayne Rooney—a nice touch by Chelsea to make the visitors feel at home—United fans were in full voice. "Have you ever won the treble? Have you, f--k?" they sang. "Have you ever won the treble, like Phil and Gary Neville?"

Furtively, a man pulled hard on a cigarette in the packed toilets, the floor wet from excess urine, the mirrors fogged. "Viva John Terry, Viva John Terry," continued the choir around him. "Could have won the cup, but he f--ked it up, Viva John Terry."

The game started badly for United and got worse. A 4-0 defeat was Mourinho's heaviest in English football, yet the United fans grew louder as Chelsea's goals flew in. If there's strength in adversity, it can usually be found in songs sung miles from home. United fans aren't short of detractors, yet they have one of the finest songbooks in football.

Being from Manchester should provide endless musical inspiration. The city is, after all, not just famous for football and rain. Music is a Mancunian religion too. This was demonstrated as Guardiola modeled for the cover of the Spanish version of October's GQ magazine. The strapline read: "Guardiola in Manchester (Music, Football and A Lot of Rain)."

Guardiola is delighted with the "We've got Guardiola" song penned by City fans, and has told friends he's never had a song sung about him by so many.

Some of City's best-known fans are musicians of course—the highest profile being Noel Gallagher, formerly of Oasis. Noel's brother Liam and bassist Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan were also Blues supporters, the latter regularly attending games to feed his football obsession.

"Pep is not really a music fan. His obsession is football," says Lu Martin, a Catalan journalist now based in Manchester, covering his friend. 

As for Jose Mourinho, he's more into tennis than music. Living in Manchester, it's emphatically his loss.

Manchester's music history rivals that of its football. Britain's second-biggest conurbation (of 2.5 million people) produced the Smiths, the Happy Mondays, Oasis, the Stone Roses, New Order, Joy Division, Simply Red, the Charlatans, Herman's Hermits, Take That, Courteeners, Inspiral Carpets, Elbow, Electronic, A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State, Badly Drawn Boy, A Certain Ratio, Doves, Everything Everything, the 1975, the Fall, Buzzcocks, Delphic, the Verve, James, the Chemical Brothers, the Hollies, David Gray, Oceansize, and Northside.

All were born or formed in Greater Manchester, and there are many, many more. But why? Why don't similarly sized—or even far bigger cities—match Manchester's musical output? And how entwined is the musical relationship with football in the city?

"After football, music is the city's second-most popular export," declares Conrad Murray, a United season-ticket holder who manages the Stone Roses, Blossoms and the Courteeners. "The city was grey and damp and there was nothing else to do. That encouraged creativity, and the confidence and attitude flowed down from bands like Joy Division into younger musicians."

"It's a working-class immigrant city which has one eye on being the underdog and having to prove something," adds Liam Fray, lead singer of the Courteeners, a hugely popular Manchester band who will perform to 50,000 in May 2017 at Lancashire Cricket Club in Old Trafford, five minutes away from the football stadium.

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Courteneers frontman Liam Fray. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

"Manchester feels ignored and that makes our musicians say: 'We can make great art up here too. We might not have the words to describe it like you lot do in London, but it doesn't mean that we mean it any less.' Liverpudlians are the same."

"Manchester city centre is just about the right size," avers Si Wolstencroft, a drummer in early incarnations of the Stone Roses and the Smiths who spent over a decade recording and touring the world with seminal Manchester band the Fall, before being reunited with Ian Brown during his solo years. "You can walk around and get your business done."

Wolstencroft is a United fan who lives in a flat with a view of Old Trafford. "Manchester is like a mini New York in design. London is too big and there aren't enough locals from there. But what else was there to do in Manchester? Kick a football, a cheap way of entertaining yourself, or play music."

"Manchester's a working-class city, and most of the best bands came from a working-class background," agrees Tom Ogden, the lead singer in Blossoms, who saw their self-titled debut album go straight to No. 1 in the U.K. charts in August. "They're not trying to be too fancy and be something they're not. They work on a real level and people say, 'I can see a bit of me in them.' I'm from a family that only went abroad once; our holidays were in caravans in Wales."

Fans can connect with the bands and follow them closely, like they do with football, or as Murray puts it: "No city embraces new music and its music heritage like Manchester. They support their own."

"I didn't really have a choice about supporting City," Ogden says. "I wouldn't have it any other way, but my dad took me to my first game when I was six. I was there when Robinho scored against Chelsea—that felt like a big moment.

"And I was there when [Sergio] Aguero scored (to win the 2012 Premier League). We were in block 101 and he ran in front of us. That's still probably the best moment of my life, even surpassing all the stuff that I've done with the band. I love being on stage and fans singing the words to your songs, but it's not as instantly mind-blowing as that was. I thought we'd f--ked it up like always."

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Blossoms lead singer Tom Ogden performing at O2 Academy Manchester in September. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Football came before music, but the same feelings applied.

"Oasis were everywhere and were definitely the current thing, and I thought: 'These are brilliant. They swear, they like football, they're from near us. And they're rock stars.' Oasis was the first band I saw live when I was 16 at Heaton Park (a municipal park in north Manchester where the Stone Roses played their main comeback gigs in front of 210,000 over three consecutive nights in 2012)."

Not all Manchester musicians are into football, however.

"Ian Brown had United season tickets behind the goal, but even he's not gone since [David] Moyes took over," Wolstencroft reveals. "He's talking about coming back.

"Johnny Marr, the finest guitarist of my generation, is a really good footballer. He had trials with a couple of league clubs, but Marr was more into art away from the music. Ian Brown actually went to watch Warrington rugby league club more with his dad, but I remember me and Ian seeing United's Red Army on the news all the time when we were younger—guys with scarves round their wrists, wearing Doc Martens boots. We'd never seen anything like it, and it excited us—and we both bought Doc Martens as a result.

"Mark E. Smith (a Blue) from the Fall and the Hanley brothers (Reds), who were also in The Fall, were really into football. Morrissey is a Red, he's from Stretford."

Beyond a song called "Roy's Keen" and a few references to George Best in his best-selling, self-penned autobiography, Morrissey hasn't ever been seen at a United or City match.

"He was starting a band who'd become the Smiths," recalls Wolstencroft, who has written an book himself called You Can Drum, But You Can't Hide. "But Morrissey was singing about the Moors Murders, and I was into funk. I did record with the Smiths at the start and if I'd stayed with them I'd probably have a mansion in Cheshire now, but I'm not into music for the money."

Football rivalries between Manchester musicians are usually put aside.

"Ian Brown likes us and asked us to play at the Etihad supporting the Stone Roses," Ogden says. "That was brilliant, playing at City. We also saw Johnny Marr in the Arndale (a central Manchester shopping centre) and he said he likes us. Liam Fray from the Courteeners really helped us to get the exposure you need as a new band too. We're trying to help Cabbage (an up-and-coming band from Mossley near Manchester)."

"There's an unspoken rivalry between bands—but in a good way," Fray says. "You hope that they do well, but that you do a little bit better!"

"One thing I like about Manchester is that the older bands promote younger ones," Murray explains. "You don't get that in other cities. They genuinely want to help everyone out."

Relations between Red and Blue aren't always quite so diplomatic. "I was in the Hacienda basement talking to the late New Order manager Rob Gretton, a huge Blue," recalls Gary Whelan, a United fan in the Happy Mondays. "The discussion became heated and ended up with us both on our knees. I had him in a semi-playful headlock when Tony Wilson came in with a writer from the L.A. Times.

"The writer had come to interview us and he was truly shocked at what he saw. Rob and I looked up from our kneeling positions, said 'hello' then resumed our wrestling match and trading insults. Tony explained, 'It's just football rivalry and you Yanks will never understand, darling.' He then launched into a rant about how United were the working man's team because immigrants saw Old Trafford as they approached Salford docks on the Manchester Ship Canal.

"The writer was still taken aback, but I explained that I was doing all I could to fight working-class oppression at the hands of our bourgeois, blue-blooded, capitalist oppressors. Tony laughed and said, 'Indeed, you see it's politics and not football...and I haven't even started on the religion.'"

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Manchester United fans pay tribute to Ryan Giggs, and Joy Division, with this banner at Old Trafford. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The now-legendary Wilson was a central figure in Mancunian culture until his untimely death in 2007, at 57, from cancer. His Manchester-based independent label, Factory Records, started in 1978 and ran until 1992. One of its first successes was releasing Joy Division's magisterial, angst-laden "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (later adapted by United fans to "Giggs Will Tear You Apart"). 

As a United fan and season ticket holder who subscribed to the United We Stand fanzine, Wilson was willing to offer his views on Manchester's mentality to the fanzine in 1998. "The best thing is that no one can define or explain and it's to do with a hospitality to life, openness to life," he said. "We're a great immigrant city, the immigrant city of Europe, and it boils back to the question: Why has Manchester consistently produced quality music bands for so long?

"It's because Manchester kids have the best record collections, and that makes them open to new ideas and influences. The students come here and many of them stay. Outsiders quickly become insiders, and maybe the same theory is true with being a Manchester United fan."

Wilson saw music and football as the city's twin forms of escapism.

"Football and music have always been two great ways out for kids. That feeling you got when you walked into the Hacienda in the summer of '89 was like I used to get when I walked into Old Trafford. It just hit you."

The Hacienda, a former motorboat showroom, opened in 1982 and closed in 1997. By then it was losing money and plagued by protection rackets—criminal groups extorting money to the detriment of Manchester's nighttime economy. Peter Hook, a United fan and Salford lad, even wrote a book called How Not to Run a Club.

The Hac found its greatest success in playing house music from Chicago and Detroit. Young United footballers Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs loved Manchester's nightlife—in moderation, of course. Giggs, like Wayne Rooney, is reportedly a great dancer.

"Me and Ryan used to go to the Boardwalk and the Hacienda a lot," Butt says. "The Boardwalk was the greatest place in the world, the best club I've ever been to because the music was so good."

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Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher in animated form watching his beloved Manchester City take on Tottenham at White Hart Lane, in 2009. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Oasis rehearsed daily at the Boardwalk before releasing Definitely Maybe, and it became renowned as one of the finest clubs in Manchester. Butt and Giggs, Manchester boys through and through, wanted to be, and were allowed to be, part of the vibe.

"We were never into drugs, but we loved the music," Butt says. "We were young lads who played for United, our local team. We were the champions of England, and we'd go out in our own city at night. People would say 'well done' and then leave you alone—unlike the young lads now who get smothered. We were looked after, and the bouncers would keep an eye on us. How could life be any better?"

The Courteeners formed in 2006 and are still going strong. Their tunes are regularly on the Old Trafford playlist, and one, "Not Nineteen Forever," became the club's anthem as United surged to a record 20th league title in 2013.

"That was such a buzz," he says. "I'd get goosebumps. There was a flag at Old Trafford, and I used to take a picture of it all the time."

Don't get the idea that Manchester's music scene is stuck in its '90s "Madchester" past. "It's thriving," says Ogden. "People are watching gigs on a Tuesday or a Thursday. There are lots of venues in Manchester, so they exist because there's a demand."

Paul Fassam is a band manager who travelled home and away with United, watching them play on every continent except Australasia. Now he focuses more on music. "For both signed and unsigned bands, there are great underground places for bands in Manchester, and there's a buzz about," he says.

Many of the concertgoers in Manchester are regular matchgoers at Old Trafford or the Etihad.

"You'll get people who go to the game and then come to a gig after," explains Fassam. "The Courteeners have a huge following from United fans. I've been with them in places like Blackpool and heard, 'United! United!'

"PR people say don't push the Manchester thing too much," Murray points out. "They'll say, 'The media don't like it. Some are sniffy about it.' I say, 'What the f--k are you on about?' We're from the city with two of the biggest clubs in the world and the two most famous managers.

"The snobbery isn't usually from Londoners, but the type of people who move to (the hipster enclaves in) east London and affect a cockney accent," Murray says, warming to his theme. "Some kid from Norwich who reinvents himself is the type to be snobby against Manchester music."

Surprisingly, few of the footballers who work in the city are outed fans of Manchester music.

"I can't see Sergio Aguero being into people like us," says Ogden. "It just doesn't seem to be fashionable to like guitar music if you're a footballer," adds Fray. "Peter Crouch has been to watch us, but most seem to be into different types of music. Gary Neville is a regular at our concerts, though."

Inspired by Noel Gallagher, Neville learned to play the guitar and is friends with Tim Burgess of the Charlatans. He even played with them in a concert. Gallagher showed his appreciation of Neville by defacing a guitar the player asked him to sign with the message: "Dear Gary. How many caps did you get for England!! How many do you think you deserved? I'll tell you. F--king None!! Lots of love. Noel Gallagher. MCFC." The pair actually get on.

Former United striker Brian McClair has been a concertgoer all his life, and his son Liam is a lyrical singer-songwriter steadily building a grassroots following. McClair once nearly arranged for what would have been one of the most memorable club football singles ever, in 1996—a collaboration between Joe Strummer, Shaun Ryder and Tim Burgess, but although they produced a demo, the project sadly got no further.

"Denis Irwin would come to Fall gigs," claims Si Wolstencroft. "At least I think it was him."

United and City have finally embraced the musical culture of their city, with playlists to compete with the legendary jukebox in the city's Corbieres basement bar. After years of playing cheesy chart music before matches, both clubs now publish a top-quality playlist of songs to be aired over the public address system before the match. United's now features 30 handpicked tunes mixing local with old favourites, and the Reds take to the field to the Stone Roses' anthemic "This Is the One."

Liam Gallagher compiled City's playlist before their recent victory against Barca, with a strong Manchester representation among the Smiths, the Cure, New Order, the Mondays, Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" and "Dakota" by Wayne Rooney's favourite band, Stereophonics. City are keen to push their connections, with musicians who support their team invited to perform on a stage outside the ground before matches.

"We've done promotional stuff with City, and they give us heated seats for matches now," says Ogden. "My dad will probably like that after years standing at Maine Road. He'll probably be a lot happier with the football compared to the fare served when he grew up."

Manchester bands are invariably asked about football while they're on tour.

"I toured the world with the Fall for 11 years, and people would come up to us and say, 'Manchester! Manchester United!' You never heard Man City," says Wolstencroft.

"We went to Indonesia with the Stone Roses and saw United shirts in the crowd," recalls Murray. "The popular culture crosses over. One of them held a flag up which simply said, 'Working Class.' There were loads of United tops but no City."

That is changing as City build up a global fanbase. The two clubs were once specific to Manchester, with United the first to get wide-scale international exposure after the 1958 Munich air crash. City fans lampooned United's claims to be world-renowned, one City fanzine printing satirical letters stating: "I went on holiday to Spain and, when I told locals that I was from Manchester, not a single Spaniard asked me about Bobby Charlton or Georgie Best or Nobby Stiles."

"Now they're on television all over the world and everyone has an opinion," states Fray. "You don't have to be a football fan to know about Man City and Man United. It's like Leonardo DiCaprio in America—everyone knows him and has an opinion. It's more interesting if you meet someone abroad and they say: 'Manchester? I like Joy Division and the Smiths.' If you go to Tokyo, they know about the Manchester music scene. It's a big compliment because Manchester is not a huge city."

"I look out of my flat in Old Trafford and see kids playing in the daytime and under the floodlights at night," Wolstencroft says. "The facilities are there if a kid really wants to be a footballer. In my day there was a muddy field, and when it went dark, that was it. That's why we turned to music."

Guardiola's standing among City fans is not in doubt. Equally, Mourinho remains popular with the majority of United fans, though fewer were singing his name after Chelsea inflicted that heavy defeat.

At boardroom level, United are adamant they've appointed the right man. He impressed those who gave him a job with his passion, his desire to win and an attention to detail that extends to making sure all the balls are pumped to the correct level in training.

United's directors think Mourinho has a significant aura and that he shares many of the traits of Sir Alex Ferguson. Like Ferguson, Mourinho doesn't always cut the happiest of figures around United's training complex at Carrington. At least Mourinho was straight with his players from the start: One of the first things he did when he met his new squad was to tell them that he was a bad person to be around when his team wasn't winning.

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Mourinho and Guardiola faced off at Old Trafford in October in an EFL Cup fourth round tie. United won 1-0. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

United players have found that that much is true. Some have been more impressed with him than others. Players don't like being criticised by their manager in public anywhere, and it's no different at United.

United will back their manager in public and private, just as they did with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, and support him to make the changes he deems necessary. Like Moyes and Van Gaal, Mourinho has quickly arrived at the conclusion that he's got a much bigger job than anticipated and the smiles of the summer have gone.

United appreciate that Mourinho inherited a squad unprepared to win the Premier League title. They know a considerable amount of work needs to be done. The club also feel that fan expectations were too high at the start of the season. Those expectations have dropped off lately. More fans now think United will finish fourth than first. Indeed, fourth and a Champions League finish would be seen as a success right now.

Noel Gallagher will be relishing the prospect of United failing to meet even that expectancy.

Andy Mitten's nine-part Pep & Jose Chronicles will return with chapter 4 on December 15.