We Are United
It was the best of times and the worst of times, what an emotional roller coaster the last twelve months have been. It seems like yesterday that United won the league and shorter still since Sir Alex was standing in the dugout, making sure that everyone feared the biggest club in the world. As such, no team has dominated the Premier League era anywhere near as much as Manchester United. But after a “transitional” season, and it has indeed been a transition, things have changed.
Life brings with it numerous disappointments, failures and heartaches. There are financial problems, relationship problems and terrifying uncertainties about the future, but for those born around the end of the eighties there have always been two constants to cling to: Manchester United always score and Liverpool never win the league. Unfortunately, both those things have looked disconcertingly uncertain this season.
I have supported Manchester United since I was seven years’ old and whilst supporting the club has not always included unfettered victories, it has never been a chore, until now. Every United fan out there remembers accepting defeat twice against Barcelona in Champions League finals before the first half was even over but no matter how heart-breaking each of these moments were, there was always a feeling that things would improve. This season, however, the team has never put together a truly positive run of results, instead emitting just a flurry of false dawns and a game against Olympiakos. Instead, United fans have been left to cheer lead for Manchester City in the hope they can stop Liverpool winning the League.
Much has been written about what David Moyes did wrong but no game greater personified the team’s woes than the one nil win against Norwich last December. That game summised all that was wrong with the team.
With all due respect to Norwich, they are hardly world beaters but somehow United managed to make Wes Hoolahan and Bradley Johnson look like Xavi and Iniesta. The way United tried desperately to hold onto a one nil lead against the stars of Carrow Road was laughable. No longer were United a cavalier, exciting team but a mediocre club content with keeping Norwich at bay.
The joke then stopped being funny against Stoke, when against the brutes of Britannia, on the windiest day of the season, the Champions of England hoofed ball after ball up and onwards, hoping for the best. Then against Fulham, they did the same again.
Overall, the Moyes reign was an unmitigated disaster for the club, but not necessarily the fans. As mentioned before, being a United fan in the past has meant superiority over others, unrivalled success and trophies a plenty. So whereas claiming to be a United supporter has previously been a joy, it’s now a duty. Putting on the jersey and going down to the pub to watch a game is inviting snickers, jokes and comments about Fellaini. And it is damn well worth it.
Watching last week’s game against Hull was a special affair, the last Old Trafford hurrah for Captain Vida, possibly for Sir Ryan, but the game was also a testament to why Moyes was just not right.
Much has been made of Moyes’ press conferences, defeatist attitude and over-reliance on long balls but if only Moyes had played more of the young lads, instead of sending most of the talent on loan across the country, the fans may have accepted some of the abject performances. Surely it is better to lose a game with Zaha, Januzaj and Powell getting game time than it is with hopeless Young, Nani and Fellaini?
This is what the next man in the dugout must understand, since 1936 this club has not fielded one match day squad without a homegrown player and long may it continue. If Sir Alex could do away with the likes of Ince, Hughes and Kanchelskis for youth, than there must be a massive space in this current squad of average, aging and inconsistent players for the young, brave and talented.
It is impossible to make predictions in football, who knows if this season will go into history as the Moyes blip, or if this marks the beginning of a slump the club will be fighting for years, but one thing is certain, being a United fan today is more than glory, it is a statement. And each and every one of us should remember that and take pride in disproving once and for all the myth that we are all just glory hunters, we are so much more, we are United.
Written by Elias Pórsson, @Eliasthorsson