The negativity of block N1406
I was at Old Trafford last night for the Fulham game, sat in my usual place in the North Stand lower.
The game finished with a 1-0 win to my team, Manchester United, and we went top of the league by three points. Top with just 8 games to go. Cause for celebration? Apparently not.
United scored shortly before half time. We hadn’t played particularly well but we’d dominated possession and Fulham didn’t look remotely like scoring (apart from when De Gea pulled of a lovely save, diving to his left and holding the ball). However, Fulham were excellent in defence and were keeping their shape with discipline. The only time Fulham looked to threaten was when we committed both full-backs forward and they came at us with pace on the counter-attack. Obviously, we needed to heed the threat and ensure that we were equally disciplined.
After a bright start, we tailed off a little but got the goal we needed before half time. Excellent! A win would put us 3 points clear at the top of the league, the measure of who is the best team in English football. This doesn’t appear to be enough.
Once the second half started, people all around me were screaming “get it forward!”, “you’re running the wrong way!”, “get the ball off him!”, “do you want this title or not?!”. I thought I’d missed two Fulham goals or at least made up the United goal in my head. I – seriously – had to stare at the scoreboard just to check that I hadn’t made it up and it was still 0-0. I couldn’t believe it.
When your team is 1-0 up against a resolute and disciplined team like Fulham and are able to keep the ball reasonably comfortably, why try and knock the ball long to strikers who aren’t as strong or tall as their defenders to give them a chance to come back at you with the pace they demonstrated in the first half? We were clearly doing the right thing. OK, the performance wasn’t scintillating, we didn’t kill them off when we had the chances we’d had but those chances had been created by playing patient, passing football. Whenever we hit the ball long there were groans from the same people who were demanding that we get the ball forward more quickly. What the fuck do these people want? The opposition cannot score when they don’t have the ball, especially if it’s hanging around the half way line and into their half, on occasion.
This is the kind of thing that makes me understand two things: why people don’t like Premier League football and why people dislike Manchester United supporters. I believe that a lot of these fans just don’t understand how and why the club has been successful in recent years. We play a far more ‘continental’ style these days with Carrick playing short, simple passes, all players not being afraid to pass the ball backwards in order to retain possession. I admit that I prefer the swashbuckling style of our team from 1994 with direct play, flying wingers, strong frontmen and enforcing midfielders but, let’s not forget, it failed in Europe even before 1996 and is hardly like to be making a comeback to our club.
A lot of United fans do not understand just what we’ve got. We have had a period of success (almost) unprecedented in English football. We have managed this by playing football in the way that the manager has set them up to do. As I said earlier, we were clearly doing the right thing.
To make the point again – 1-0 win, 3 points, top of the league. What’s the problem?
P.S.: Here’s another reason why people hate Manchester United fans. From pointless negativity to cringeworthy positivity in less than 24 hours. That’s some going.