I think it was Iain Duncan-Smith who once said “A house divided against itself, cannot stand” and who are we to argue with the great man.
This is a statement that could apply to United of late, as it seems to me that more and more Reds are becoming interested in fighting one another rather than the common enemy: Scousers. You only have to look at the social networks, the various blogs, forums, fan sites and articles to see its becoming abundantly clear that the term ‘Manchester United fan’ is not considered the simple to understand moniker it once was. When I was growing up if you said you were a ‘United fan’ that was sufficient, there was no need to whip out a season ticket, or a scarf, or show scars from battles at Maine Road or Anfield. You didn’t need to dazzle people with your ability to recall Paul Parker’s successful tackle ratio, or how many forward passes Bryan Robson had made in the first half.
Of course it was easy for me as i lived in Manchester where there was no need to doubt or question the validity of the statement regarding your preferred team. Things have changed now though, for several reasons. United have become the most successful team in Britain over a sustained period. There’s now the introduction of the internet where fans can interact or even criticise each other like never before. Ticket prices and the Glazer takeover have made it difficult for some people to either afford or want to attend Old Trafford.
It’s because of these factors we’re now at a point where many Reds are displeased by what they see as ‘bandwagon jumping’ by fans who don’t really support the team, or follow it with he same passion they believe themselves to.
There are fans of course that cannot get to Old Trafford due to living miles away/not having the funds/or simply refuse to put money in the Glazer’s debt collectors pockets. These Reds shouldn’t be treated as pariahs, as fans not worthy to wear their United colours, they’re just not match going fans It doesn’t mean they don’t want to see United succeed, they don’t loathe our opponents with the same venom those that follow United home and away do, it just means they aren’t there on match days.
In my youth I used to be fairly critical of United fans that didn’t go to games, mainly because the Reds I knew that didn’t go were friends of mine from Manchester who’d rather spend the £4 I forked out for a Paddock ticket, on weed or cider. It used to annoy me how they’d make judgements on players based on a 12 minute Match of the Day highlight or what the Football Pink said, while I was there, standing in the rain every weekend- losing my voice screaming and chanting like a possessed child- I often miss those days, where you could literally chant for 90 minutes and not look like a ‘weirdo’ to some people.
Now though, non-match going Reds can still watch the entire game via the web or on sky and have has much a right to air an opinion as those of us that go regularly -after all part of what makes United great, is our global fan base. It’s just difficult for some United fans to stomach at times, seeing a tweet from someone overseas slagging off the crowd because via their stream Old Trafford seemed ‘quiet’ or laying into Danny Welbeck as ‘not being United-class’ cos he doesn’t score every game.
Let’s face facts though and this may rub a lot of people up the wrong way but it needs to be said, I’ve far more of a problem with someone sat in Old Trafford screaming abuse at Phil Jones than I have with some 14 year-old in Asia tweeting that he thinks he’s having a bad game. Don’t get me wrong fans, pay a lot of money to go to games and are entitled to voice their concerns but personally I’ve been far more angered in the past at some of the nonsense I’ve heard spouted by angry men sat near me than the so-called ‘keyboard warriors.’
At the recent Blackburn game I took a mate up from London to Old Trafford for the first time, he’s in his early twenties which is almost unheard of where I come from to be making your first visit to see your team- be it United or anyone else. But let me put things into perspective, when my dad was taking me to my first games -my mate was growing up in Uganda. When he did move to England it was to Middlesex, where he couldn’t just jump on the 255 and catch the last 15 minutes of the match even if he didn’t have a ticket – which was my Modus Operandi back in the early nineties.
Yet when we lived together in London while I was studying there was a mutual passion for United, a team he’d ‘supported’ since he started watching football. He may not have been to games but he’d shared my joy when they won and anger and disappointment when they lost, he’d even got in trouble at his job at Stamford Bridge hospitality for celebrating when United scored.
He’s a United fan despite making only one appearance and he’s part of what makes our club great.
In front of us at the Blackburn game was a chap who spent the entire game shouting at the United players, labelling Park “a f*cking useless little sh*t” Phil Jones an “overrated c*nt” and even more bizarrely Tony V a “fat tw*t.”
Me and a few other fans exchanged bewildered glances and towards the end, I honestly thought someone was going to one arrow him. This guy’s energy may have been misplaced, but the fact is he’s a United fan, and while I don’t agree with the way he went about it, there’s no doubt his anger came from a being a passionate Red.
There’s a lot of talk nowadays of what makes a United fan, but as long as someone wants the Reds to triumph over any other team and feels the same emotions I do when watching them,whether it be in an away end or via a stream, then I for one am more than happy to call you a fellow United fan.
I think it was Nick Clegg who once said, “why can’t we all just get along?”
Have I oversimplified the argument? Is there more to it than that? Why on earth did Liverpool buy Andy Carroll? \
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