Date: 22nd November 2010 at 6:00pm
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My first encounter with Daniel Harris’ writing wasn’t a positive one.

Stumbling around a United forum, I came across a thread by a fan full of piss and vinegar having a go at a piece he had written just after the Leeds game in January. Having read it myself I was in agreement with the guy who started the thread so picking up his book, On The Road: A Journey Through A Season I was already apprehensive.

But now I have read it I can tell you now I have reneged on my initial thoughts.

The book which was originally a collection of blog posts tells the story of United’s 09/10 season as seen through Harris’ eyes and whilst the title suggests it speaks of just the away games, Harris offers his opinion on the season as a whole as well as a number of other matters including the Glazers and the debt they have saddled the club with (he excellently paraphrases Verbal Kint from Usual Suspects claiming ‘the greatest trick the debt ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist)..

One thing that immediately endeared me to the book was Harris’ humour, I found myself sniggering a number of times throughout an example being when speaking of Obertan he said:

‘In the last couple of weeks, the now-fit Gabriel Obertan has excelled as well, showing physical strength, the ability to play off both feet and a sharp footballing brain – unsurprising given the size of his head.’

But it isn’t just humour on a serious level his analysis of the season will be interesting to readers on so many levels. Many of us are quick to spend our money on season review DVDs but the book provides a personal edge to what is quite a robotic depiction of the 10 months in which we fret, we shout with frustration and scream with joy.

Of course the season wasn’t the best of seasons as we ended up with just the Carling Cup and the book conveys this but at times I feel Harris criticisms are a tad excessive, a case in point being the chapter on the Leeds FA Cup defeat that sparked the thread that alerted me to the Harris. In the chapter Harris offers his opinion on Sir Alex’s role in the club being taken over and whilst his argument is well presented, me being in ‘top red’ mode immediately took offence to a criticism of Sir Alex which in itself is foolish as nobody is beyond criticism. The good thing about this of course is the fact that he does indeed speak his mind rather than follow the familiar pattern of conformity to appear ‘a proper red’.

The book’s strength lies in how personal it is, everyone that reads it will find something that they can relate to. For me one of the things is when he speaks of having to justify his support from the club despite not being from Manchester, something I’m all too familiar with.

The book is well written and brought back a deluge of memories from events that at 22 I should remember but don’t due to the fact I have a memory like a sieve, it will provoke arguments as some will agree with some of his stances whilst some won’t and in reality that’s what we expect from reading material as if we aren’t challenged and provoked then what have we wasted our time reading for?

Having finished it any lingering apprehension I had when I first picked up the book dissipated as it felt that I had read the work of a pal rather than an unfamiliar writer, something strengthened when I actually corresponded with Harris.

I enjoyed the book wholeheartedly and would definitely recommend it for yourself or even as a present for others.

On The Road, a journey through a season is available now to buy – click here for Waterstone’s, here for for, and follow Harris on Twitter here.


8 responses to “Review: On The Road: A Journey Through A Season”

  1. Larry says:

    He always seems to be sniping at United players and the club. Isn’t he just a smart-arse wannabe celeb milking a living out of being a United fan ?

  2. Chudi Onwuazor says:

    That’s not the experience I have had when speaking with him you know. As I said I don’t agree with all his opinions but he presents them well so it doesn’t seem like he is just trying to cause controversy rather it is how he genuinely feels. And I for one can’t fault a man for his beliefs even if I don’t agree with them.

  3. Larry says:

    He just seems concerned with getting his point across and being right; but not about the club or the players. Different strokes for different folks and all that, though.

  4. Chudi Onwuazor says:

    Very much so Larry, I take it you’ve read the book. Beyond that what did you think?

  5. daniel says:

    Larry, it’s my job to get my point across, and though I’m wrong about plenty, obviously when i write things I think I’m right – if I didn’t, I’d write something different. Such is the nature of any statement of opinion.

    I care plenty for the club, measurable in whatever criteria you choose – games attended, miles travelled, pounds spent, opportunity cost, whatever – or by the fact that I stopped going to OT in 2005 because saving the club is of greater importance than the strength of my desire to watch United play.

    However I care not a jot for the players, or most of them at least. They care not in the slightest for me or you, and are employees, just passing through – take a look at Wayne Rooney’s interview from this afternoon to see what I mean.

  6. Larry says:

    I thought it was an interesting and enjoyable book, Chudi.


    I think making a snap judgement on Wayne Rooney is wrong, when you don’t know the facts behind the scenes (or you certainly don’t reference them). I personally see it differently where Wayne Rooney is concerned.

    • daniel says:

      Who’s made a snap judgment? We’ve had years to decide what we think about Wayne Rooney. If you think he’s a nice bloke, then fair enough, but there’s a fairly decent list of reasons that suggest otherwise too.

  7. Larry says:

    Where does being a nice bloke come into it? The subject was the team and whether your job benefitted the club or yourself. With great power, etc.

    I think if you’re going to go through a tick-list for all our players’ personalities before deciding whether you will support them, then most of them will fall short.

    And if the biggest concern for Rooney was the club, then doesn’t that reflect our own thoughts?

    I’d also ask David Gill why didn’t we renew his contract during last season, when his form warranted it and before the pressure of City’s summer splurge took affect.