To the world, Manchester United fans can appear spoilt. Glory hunters they say. No fans in Manchester they state.
As of this very moment, our biggest heartache is no longer trophies (or the lack of them). And that’s not to say that a club of this stature shouldn’t be fighting for titles or holding silverware. Not at all. I remain committed to the viewpoint that it will never seem right to not be up there with the very best of them. No.
Without disputing that, when I think back to my happiest memories being a red of course the successes are up there. But what I truly miss the most? That feeling of supporting whichever way I could and feeling no guilt or shame. By association.
Being a child and wearing a United shirt. Not worrying about the bigger picture and what monster you were funding.
Now, lifelong match goers are called out for being a ‘Glazer puppet’ and those who reside in anywhere else or cannot get to games are told they have no right to an opinion. So, there are no winners with these mindsets. Just for one second though, consider how turning on one another helps create a better future or with the bigger picture though. It doesn’t. It is not for us to tell anybody else how they should or shouldn’t show their support for Manchester United or disgust for the Glazers.
If you was to tell me you hadn’t bought any merchandise for years in defiance, I would say fair play. If you was to tell me you couldn’t live without life’s little luxuries such as treating yourself to the new kit or taking your seat in Old Trafford (when allowed again of course), I would say that’s your prerogative. Neither are any of my business.
If anything, the bitterness and resentment amongst fans only fuels the fire and keeps it burning. The clue is in the name. United. We all want the same thing. We all feel the same emotions. The same anger. And be honest. If it wasn’t for the adoration across the globe for this club, we wouldn’t even be who we are today. So, there is no need for arrogance or putting yourself above another simply because you were born closer to Manchester. It solves nothing. And only adds to the stress that each one of us are going through.
Your heart can only break so many times until you become numb to the same pattern repeating itself over and over. Even with the knowledge that we weren’t anywhere near enough on a par with our rivals regarding the strength of the squad, like the soppy sod I am I still anticipated the excitement of our return to the Premier League.
Then I watched as the holes seemed to get bigger and the problems we knew we had reared their ugly head as we lost 3-1 to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. What was once a fortress, now a joke. What was once a fight, now a gutless performance. The display was as sad as the empty stands. Football without fans really is nothing. But football without hope and with the acknowledgement that things probably won’t change anytime soon is bleak.
Sir Alex Ferguson watching on as a reminder to us all of the riches we once knew. Now lay in tatters. To see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so dejected after our opening game of the season and to see him once again clearly proclaim afterwards that he needs and wants signings is just a reminder of what we all knew.
Admittedly, the players and manager have to be held to account today for that embarrassment we had to witness. However, if Ole isn’t going to be backed even after continously and publicly stating the fact that he needs it, who is? We have to end the cycle of swapping managers and expecting a different outcome.
The beautiful game to us. Our home. Our life. Our escapism. Our United. But to the men in suits, it’s just business. They don’t care how much it hurts to see your club falling to it’s knees. They couldn’t care less that Liverpool won the title last season. Or how stark the difference is between them and us at present. After the history, grit and determination that went into infamously ‘knocking them off their perch.’ Our everything is their nothing.
This year especially, everything we once knew has changed. The things we took for granted snatched away. But what is happening with Manchester United and the running of the club can not be excused by the events of 2020.
A chain of events have ensued which have led us to where we are now. A shadow of our former selves. Reported financial woes. No real lure anymore to coming to the theatre of dreams. Businessmen dealing with football matters. The roof falling apart. It’s a shambolic mess and all we can do is watch as the heart is torn out.
Ed Woodward once said that we can do things in the transfer market others can only dream of. Today, it feels like I would have to fall asleep to envision any such thing. I do not condone threats of violence to him, especially where his family are involved. Having said that, if it was any other person in any other job role, would they still be employed?
As for the leeches who have sucked the soul out of our club slowly but surely, I promise that no matter what you take from me you will never take my love for Manchester United away. You won’t blind me by deflecting the blame to the manager. You will never be known as anything other than what you are today. All the money in the world can’t save you from the truth.
As disappointed as I am, the little girl inside of me still can’t wait to watch the reds. Even if I know what’s coming. They will never take that away from me. Or the hope that one day they will sell up and take their soulless dwelling elsewhere.
What can we do as fans? It’s not for me to say or to tell you what to do. But use your voice. It’s a powerful tool and it’s your right. Keep protesting. Never accept this as the norm because it isn’t. If you want to boycott contributing to tickets and merchandise, keep at it. If you simply cannot live your life without doing so, then that’s your choice. Stop attacking one another for coping another way. Disagree but don’t disrespect. Focus your anger and message in the right direction.
I do hope we sign some more players. Not that I will hold my breath. And it won’t change my mind on the ownership. But we are clearly crying out for them and it would improve my optimism for how this season will unfold. And provide some much needed positivity in these crazy times.
This isn’t an overreaction over one fixture. I know how the game works and how everything can change. This is simply me expressing my disgust at what has become of the Manchester United I once knew compared to the one the younger generations now know.
Some of the decisions in that game flummoxed me. The penalty debacle for one was ridiculous and just the cherry on top for what was less than pleasurable viewing to say the least . To be blunt though, we deserved the defeat. I make no excuses when it comes to that loss. And everyone has to take a part in the blame. The one positive was that Donny van de Beek came on and scored on his debut. A solo triumph as opposed to a team one. But I was happy for him all the same. You have to take what you can these days.
The difference a fresh pair of legs can make. Who knew? Imagine the difference if we did the same to boost all our weak areas? That we have been calling out for. Endlessly. Mind-blowing.
The day the Glazers social distance themselves from Manchester United will be the day this particular virus goes away. But in the meantime, we won’t be masked or silenced when it comes to voicing our disgust or fighting for what is right.
On behalf of all Manchester United fans, can we please sign some players and save our sanity? If only for a moment. It is 2020, after all.
Sincerely, UnitedSheStands. Or just another fan who misses the club I once knew. And the one I know is still in there somewhere. With a man at the helm who wants it just as badly as us.