Friday, 21 February 2014

What it means to be a United fan.

Every aspect of the club has felt slightly different this season. The hole left by Sir Alex Ferguson has left us all in uncharted territory, and has tested every single member of staff, every single player and every single fan. Personally all I’ve ever known is the success of the Ferguson era, and the stability that came with it. It would be easy for me to expect an immediate continuation of that success, and to even feel anger towards Moyes following a disappointing season so far. However, Ferguson’s United taught me everything I need to know about the club. At the heart of those lessons was the message that United will always rise again. Sir Matt Busby led the way in the 1950’s and 60’s, and ever since then the club has forged a path built in his image.
In such a period of difficulty and uncertainty, I believe it is important to get back to remembering why we all support this fantastic club. Too many have lost their way in this almost frantic desire to be successful, and have forgotten why supporting United is more than just winning silverware. Supporting this club defines you, you expect things to happen that shouldn’t seem possible. It is not defined by the number of games that you attend or your geographical location. It does not matter what nationality you are, nor your financial position. Those that are rich enough to consistently afford tickets and attend games are not necessarily the loudest, proudest or the most loyal fans, they may just be the lucky ones who could get their hands on tickets.

Being a United fan should be judged on how you support the team, not where you live or where you come from. For many years I have enjoyed being able to say that the club I support has been built on a solid history and the ideals that are not present at other clubs. I have watched as Chelsea, City and Liverpool have all sacked managers after a matter of months whilst our manager carried on year after year. Before it is levelled at me, I am not sitting here with my rose-tinted glasses on. Ferguson’s reign was not perfect, and there were two significant periods when United showed the attitude and ideals that make our club the envy of the world. Everyone knows about the struggles Fergie faced when he joined, and the patience and faith that the board showed in keeping him in the job, but I want to focus on the other troubled period. Between 2003 and 2007, United went four years without winning the Premier League title, and were at no point able to compete with Wenger’s Invincibles or Mourinho’s Chelsea.

During this period, United won the 2004 FA Cup against a Championship side in the shape of Millwall, and the 2006 League Cup when they beat newly promoted Wigan Athletic. Hardly achievements to make anyone sit up and take notice. As for European football, in this period United were non-existent. It even featured a Champions League campaign which resulted in United being knocked out of the group stage. Dismal. We’ve all seen plenty of other top sides react to such a period by replacing the manager. Not United. They allowed Ferguson to continue, to keep rebuilding, and what he did next is engraved in our history. 

He built a side that dominated at home and abroad, arguably the best side the club has ever seen. Nobody knows what would have happened if Ferguson had been asked to leave the club during such a troublesome period. Would the new manager have brought in Carlos Tevez? Would he have trusted and believed in Cristiano Ronaldo? One of the best players this club has ever seen may have been shipped out and cast aside as another young player who didn’t reach the required level.

Now I know these are all massive ‘what ifs’. I’m just speculating after all, but it does make you think.
So to all those discerning voices who are calling for ‘Moyes Out’; take a step back. Trust the club, trust the manager. He is capable of getting it right and any success he does have will be all the sweeter for trusting in him through this rough period. There is a reason you are all United fans, and there are reasons you love our club. Don’t ask for that to be thrown away just for some immediate, fleeting success. Have some faith and remember what it means to be a United fan.

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