I started supporting United in 1979, despite being from Walsall and a happy midlander born and bred. My local team was Walsall FC and I do have fond memories of the old Fellows Park that I use to go to as a child for my regular football fix. It was good, but more the atmosphere than the quality of football!!
I have no family members that were, are or ever likely to be Tier 3 Stretford End Season Ticket Holder, or anywhere for that matter!
I’m a Glory Hunter. Proud to be a glory hunter in the fact that I’m proud to support such a fabulous history soaked romantic exhilarating football club. I don’t like the tag. I don’t agree with the tag. I can live with the tag.
I’ve gradually worked my way northwards from Walsall, a proclivity towards my beloved ‘Theatre of Dreams’. I go to matches when I can, be it first team premier league, cup, Europe, reserves or Youth. Recently I’ve encountered a phenomenon new to me; the embittered Blue!!
As I’ve got closer to Stockport I’ve come into contact with this unusual creature of peculiar argumentative habits. In my workplace I have 3 ‘die-hard’ City fans surrounding me.
One is even a season ticket holder you’d think!! He especially is the bane of my life and a constant cause of debate and discussion. In many ways I enjoy the challenge, but I’d never let him know.
Being born closer to Manchester than I was, it has been his long held belief that makes me the Glory Hunter, but, when a team has not won anything for the considerable time that City went; it’s hard to argue that one.
Albeit it, I started supporting United in a period well before the nineties boom years – a time when you either supported your local team, the immensely popular and successful Liverpool or a Manchester United drip-fed on a diet of the almost, the Plucky failures and interspersed with FA Cup Victories in an infinitely more prestigious and romantic competition than it is now.
This season has presented me with my biggest challenge yet, as City has been our biggest challenger.
Their unlimited backing and willingness to go FM styli on the premier league has made life very ‘Squeak bum’ time for us all. Sure United have spent money, you don’t get sustained success in the premier league years without it.
The fact that in recent years the money spent (Net transfers) is less than some of the massive names like Stoke and Sunderland is ignored.
The fact that since we spent the £30.75m on Dimitar Berbatov, City have spent a mind boggling £382,150,000NET, (presuming Carlos Tevez only cost the official £25m rather than the closer £45m needed to pay off the Argentines moneymen!) since that last transfer Hurray on 1st September 2008. In that time we’ve spent a miserly £21m (Just under) NET! Obviously Fuelled by the record £85m we received for CR7.
We, surprisingly have only broken the £15m barrier once in that time for Antonio Valencia up until this preseason. In the, same period, City have broken the £30m barrier Twice (3 if you count Tevez’s extra payments), the £20m barrier eleven times and the £15m barrier a whopping Sixteen times! Jealous…. Damn right I am, totally fuelled by my FM addiction! But all I get is that we’ve broken the transfer record so many times previously and we’ve bought the title! We’ve bought players like Rooney, Veron, Ferdinand and Berbatov for £25m plus.
The fact we did that over 12years rather than 4 yrs is ignored. We BOUGHT the title! No acceptance that we’ve developed squads, fleshing them out with young developing players or home grown players. No acceptance that our team as been steadily supported by well timed inclusions of exciting young prospects. No acceptance that the league is littered with football professionals that have been schooled and skilled in the requirements needed to sustain a successful football career, even if not at Manchester United.
Our golden generation have become legends, only Micah Richards has survived the heralded players that included Ireland and Michael Johnson. Ever likely to succumb to the footballing wilderness along with a bought prospect in Adam Johnson, looking increasingly unlikely to fulfil his potential in such a star studied squad. Victims of the Arab turbo push. A bitter accept this…. Oh no! They simply weren’t good enough.
Supposedly similar to their more expensive flops like the Brazilian internationals’ Robinho and Jo. As well as the equally renowned and seasoned pro’s like Dzeko, Adebajor and Kolo Toure. Just not good enough. He points to Veron and even our Berba. I don’t mention players like kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, Bellion, Manucho or Dong. I’m not stupid. He’s already remembered Bebe…. I defend the spending but against this fellow’s stoical insistence and revisionary memory it’s a non-starter for common sense.
We’ve debated long and hard about tactics and respective player abilities.
We have Legends; unfortunately they have players capable of becoming Legends.
Currently we’ve become reliant on a functional well tread style of premier-league winning wing play. Its drawback is well documented in an awfully stale and naïve European adventure. This was only eased in the office by an equally failed venture across the Stockport divide. Ignore that we’re awash in history and famous players. Ignore our pedigree, as the Citizens court the best players with crass, asinine statements. Make a show with gaudy extravagant gestures of the noisy neighbour emboldened with new money and a need to overstate their position.
Then the Curve-ball, the real argument that flummoxed. I’m asked to defend Sir.Alex Ferguson. Now just stop and take that in for a few seconds. Defend… SIR… ALEX…. FERGUSON… TO A BITTER BLUE…..
With all the money he’s spent (remember Stoical in his belief), with all the years he’s been in the champion’s league (you know where this is going, don’t you?)…. He’s only won the European Champions League twice. TWICE! The absolute Horror! The inhumanity! The incompetence! Has he made mistakes, God yes! He himself has catalogued them. He himself as critiqued his disappointments with some of our European campaigns. Forget that we’ve actually won 3 European and 1 World title in his time.
Forget that. Forget that as a United fan I never thought we’d win a league let alone a European title. Forget 23 years in a bitterness that has lasted over 30years. If Fergie had been manager of another team, would I have hated him, most of us would, but we’d begrudgingly admit to his consistency in success and his achievements. Not my bitter Blue friend.
Now though, the long winding road that has been this premiership race has nearly run its course. The last big hurdle for both clubs approaches. The nerves I thankfully see are apparent in both sets of fans. The debates and tête-à-tête have been surprisingly heated and are reaching a crescendo.
My bitter blue friend knows he has time on his side. That his club will continue to fund their project with huge amounts of money that should eventually guarantee their success is evident. It’s as inevitable as the smugness of my friends smile when he says there’s always next year.
They expect now, that’s the real change.
But each victory reminds us and them that class is permanent. I’ve fully defended my little Glory Hunting Corner. Ensured my ground remains Red, Just as I know ManchesterIsRed! I’d hope that my fellow REAL Manchester United Supporters would appreciate the effort I’ve put in. The less blinkered fans will realise I had no choice, since I’m as Red as they come, as many of our Global family.
Even when I’ve felt the bitter blue has made reasoned and good points,
I’ve not given an inch,
We ARE United and we’ll Fight! Fight! Fight!
Jonathan Ball (@JonyB007)