Being a Manchester United fan comes with some responsibility: you just have to taunt every single Liverpool fan you come across and if you attend games, make the atmosphere incendiary – it would really help players. In return, you are the fan of a club who has a divine right to domestic success and your team plays some of the nicest football out there. Or not.
There was huge anticipation ahead of the Barcelona – Man Utd game in the Champions League semi-final. Many bloggers or journalists or drunk ‘experts’ (call them what you will) made everyone believe that this would be the game of the season. In all fairness, the game wasn’t all bad. Messi was outstanding, Xavi and Iniesta had some blinding moments and even Thierry Henry looked on form. The only problem is that these were all Barcelona players.
It was a bit exciting to watch Barcelona play like they used to when Ronaldinho was in his prime, but what was less than exciting was the way Manchester United played for the nil-nil draw. With that I am not happy. In fact, I would have been happier had United lost but had a go at Barcelona than play the way they played. You can argue all you like, but that is the way I feel.
The issue that I am raising here has been debated for ages. Would you rather have your team play well and with not-so-good results, or would it be better if they defended like Italians? Normally a team like Chelsea can afford to defend since it has some the best defensive midfielders in the world and a mind-boggling back four while they lack attacking versatility. Manchester United — on the other hand — is mostly top-heavy and they should be able to take on just about everyone.
Last year’s semi-final was much worse than this from our point of view. The team had run out of energy by that stage of the season and they were steam-rolled by a very well rested Milan team. When we left the competition last year, our heads were not held high. We had been outclassed. If we lose this year, we will be able to say that it was a dog-fight which might have gone either way.
We would have gained the respect of our Catalan opponents by trying to hold them off. Had we challenged them and lost, everything would have gone out the window. No praise from the fans and even less from everybody else.
Fans have to remember that football is entertainment first and foremost. If your team wins something, you win nothing, but if your team plays football the way it was meant to be played, the way you try to play on the playground with your friends, you are entertained. Right now football is held hostage by some greedy fuckers who want to get as much money out of the game as possible and are willing to sacrifice everything to get there.
As much as I hate to admit it, I was hoping for a late Barcelona goal at the Nou Camp on Wednesday simply because I thought they had outplayed us and outclassed us and because Rijkaard had done away with everything Ferguson had ever built, in my eyes. I will always be a Manchester United fan but that performance was something which I hated and which I never want to see again!
Hopefully Ferguson can make it up to us next week.
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