What’s it like being a Manchester United fan?

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June 18, 2013 by backofthenetjl

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We have another piece in the series, this one is by Tom Parker on what it’s like to be a fan of Manchester United.

I could begin this piece by applying the question ‘What is it like to be a United fan?’ to a famous quote from Forrest Gump; “supporting United is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” However, by doing this, I would be lying – after all, United are one of the most predictable clubs in world football; until lately anyway.

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United have demonstrated a machine-like consistency for over 20 years. In the past 7 seasons, United have won the league 5 times, missing out by a solitary point and on goal difference to Chelsea and City respectively. You could even go as far as to state that there are three rather than two guarantees in life; death, taxes and Manchester United challenging for the Premier League title. Things are it seems destined to change.

‘The king is dead, long live the king’ was the theme on that fateful May 8th. It was a moment where you remember exactly where you were when the news broke of the greatest club manager ever to grace the earth stepping aside, receiving widespread eulogisation from all sections of society. The loss of Ferguson ends assurances that the club will finish either first or second next season and the season after, and quite what affect Ferguson had on the squad will only become apparent over time.

Fans aged up to 27 are currently experiencing the first managerial change at their club in their lifetime – a situation which cannot be related to any other club in world football. Supporters reaction has been rather varied, some vociferous supporters of David Moyes, while others are of the opinion Fergie’s successor could and should have been more high-profile and experienced than the former Everton man.

For me, it’s a bit of both. I’ve grown up knowing nothing but Ferguson prowling the touchline, tapping his watch and berating officials. The first game under Moyes will certainly be surreal. While the legendary Scot took the club from its knees to domestic monopolisation and beyond, there are still questions over Ferguson’s reign. Should he have won more European cups? Perhaps. Should he have opposed the Glazer takeover? Probably. A fresh approach could revitalise some in the squad, and I’m certainly excited to see what system will be utilized, who he’ll sign, and how Kagawa will be utilized, given Moyes’ love of goal-scoring midfielders.

Either way, not only has 27 years of experience been lost, but stalwart Paul Scholes has also played his last game, and this, coupled with the departures of Mike Phelan, Rene Muelensteen and others mean United are about to enter a brave new era where after a virtual guaranteed 1st or 2nd place finish in the league, the future is a lot less certain.
At this point, I should probably give you all a bit of background and a brief overview over why I support United, thus reaching my first real bugbear over my Red allegiance.

I’ve supported United for as long as I can remember. I’m not from Manchester though. In fact, I’m from Staffordshire, and live roughly 70 miles from Old Trafford. United was always a logical choice however, with my Dad having a season ticket since 1996. It felt only natural to follow my old man. Ever since I saw Ruud Van Nistelrooy worm his way past half of Fulham’s eleven and slot home majestically, I’ve been hooked and try and get to games whenever I can.
The clubs fan base is an almost constant source of joy mixed with annoyance, and via Twitter, I’ve met and interacted with many decent reds, but for every decent red, there seems to be one or perhaps one and a half idiots.

For a start, there is the match-day shoutouts and the #MUFC_Family brigade, which are enough in isolation to make a strong-willed individual contemplate suicide. This is compounded by the constant disagreements over the playing staff. Take Michael Carrick for example, considered completely useless by some for years, Evra experienced similar, and even Ryan Giggs was urged to retire by some before Christmas. The sheer fickleness is jaw-dropping.

This is not the worst thing though. It is the false hope many harbour towards bringing Cristiano Ronaldo ‘home,’ which I personally find the most irritating. I’m by no means anti-Ronaldo, and I’d go as far to say he’s the best footballer I’ve ever watched in the flesh, however, for reasons such as the swathes of media scrutiny he’d bring to the club, the ridiculously high transfer fee coupled with a low re-sale value, not to mention the fact that there is absolutely no need for a player in his position especially when the awful United midfield is thrown into the equation, I’m almost completely against a transfer; and every time I see a 2013/14 line-up with Ronaldo’s name included, I feel compelled to bash my head endlessly against my keyboard only after hurling expletives at said tweeter.

The desperation of some, fuelled by a misguided love for a man who actively sought to engineer a move away from the club in a fashion Wayne Rooney would later copy (and experience vilification for) has even led to an Australian con-man setting up a blatant scam disguised as a ‘fan movement’ called Bring Ronaldo Home. The ingenious scheme serves to highlight the fickleness of the fan base, evidenced by over 5000 people and counting ‘pledging’ a tenner to the scheme. Bloody hell.
It’s not just fans which are bad though, as United often suffer the worst at the hands of those who are paid to write about the beautiful game. Journalism is obviously a dying profession, and it’s not hard to see why when you have idiots like Martin Lipton claiming players such as Rafael and Jonny Evans aren’t good enough for United, while the treatment David De Gea received during his first season in England was sickening and borderline libellous on occasion.

But despite the ridiculous press and equally ridiculous fans, it’s pretty great supporting United. The past 15 years have been incredible, and while the next 15 may not reach those heady heights, at least under Moyes, we can hope for some consistency and stability rather than a Mourinho type character, who seems to excel at falling out with anyone and everyone.

So, back to where we began then. Under Ferguson life wasn’t anything like that Forrest Gump quote, however, in the coming years, amid the cautious optimism surrounding the new man, under David Moyes, supporting United could indeed be just like a box of chocolates.

Follow Tom on twitter: @ParkerMUFC
Follow me on twitter: @DisguisedPass

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