Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughMoney makes United tick - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Money makes United tick - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Money makes United tick


The phrase ‘January transfer window’ tends to arouse little more than a passing interest at the Abbey Stadium, home of Cambridge United. Head Coach Richard Money, who took over in October, is working with a budget that belies his name and has focused on drilling a smaller squad into a lean mean fighting machine rather than importing reinforcements.

A steady stream of United players have made the one-way trip down Newmarket Road either permanently or on loan since former Luton boss Money was drafted in to replace Jez George, who assumed a new Director of Football position at the Blue Square Bet Premier club. As far as replacements go, United are not one of the league’s big spenders and there are no David Beckhams in the Conference.

This is Cambridge United’s centenary season, but old habits have changed. Gone are the days when ageing journeymen are put out to grass on the lush Abbey turf. Forever chastened by the pathetic spectacle of a misfiring and permanently injured Daryl Clare, United won’t be making that mistake again in a hurry.

So it was a quiet January. Speedy left-sided Curtis Haynes-Brown signed from Yeovil after a loan; rookie striker Matty Fletcher came in on loan from Sheffield Wednesday; young defender Charlie Wassmer signed after his release from Crawley; and left-back James Jennings surprised everyone by leaving to join Mansfield and spend more time with his family.

Money’s honeymoon back in October lasted 90 minutes as the U’s put four past Mansfield on the day he took charge. A draw and four defeats in the next five games then highlighted the measure of his task, including an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of his former employers and culminating in a calamitous 6-2 defeat at Newport.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge, short on confidence, and skipper Michael Wylde, never the same and certainly never fit after an injury-ridden debut season, paid the price with their places but everyone was awful that night. As so often happens though, an unbeaten run of nine league games followed as united soared from 20th to 7th. Tom Elliott’s hat-trick, the first by a United player for two years, saw off Ebbsfleet in a 4-2 away win.

“After that game we got a real rollocking,” recalled top scorer Elliott, “mainly because we let in two soft goals. I got one because he said it was my fault that Andy Pugh got sent off, because I gave away the free kick!”

The bullet-headed Money has quietly gone about his business. Often tetchy and defensive in his dealings with the media, and with a nice old-fashioned surnames-only stance towards his players, he isn’t a man to mess with. He doesn’t look or sound touchy-feel, yet after that difficult start his record at United speaks for itself and the players are full of nothing but praise for their boss.

“I’ve been really impressed with him since he’s come,” said defender Rory McAuley, already one of several contenders for player of the season. “I think he’s probably the best of all the coaches I’ve had here. He’s very tactically switched on and he knows what he’s doing. He comes across really well, he’s really positive and I think he’ll be able to get the best out of the group of players he’s got here.”

“He demands the best, and when you’ve done something well, he’ll give you a pat on the back and be the first one to congratulate you,” said Elliott. “He gets the morale and motivation going. He’s a good one-to-one coach and I really like him as a manager.”  

United travel to Kidderminster on Saturday for a game already being described as ‘massive’ and a potential play-off six-pointer. The U’s have form with the Harriers. Relegated to the Conference together with United in 2005, they’re a bogie team for Cambridge, but they do sell the best pies in the league.

Michael Barnes