On Manchester United and the transformation of a fan

It is that time of the year when the Premier league table settles down and the top clubs start cementing their position in the top 4/5. The early bursts of good results by lower rung teams normally fizz out with the  arrival of the holiday season. But that is certainly not the case this time round.

Everton, Newcastle, Southampton and Tottenham have been fearless , playing some delightful football.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City have dealt with this surge a bit better than Manchester United. A good record at home has ensured their steady march away from the pack of the ‘resurgent’ clubs. But United seem to be lost, searching for direction, a driving force to lead them away from this mess

So what is the reason for this sudden turn of events? The new Manager, the lack of form and creativity offered by the midfield or just plain misfortune.

David Moyes has been an easy target for the media as well as the fans. Both of them holding him responsible for United’s slump in form. It is not easy coming in and taking Sir Alex’s legacy forward, Moyes needs time to adjust, to make things happen at United in his very own way. He did make a few horrendous substitution calls at the start of the campaign but hasn’t done much wrong since. A combination of lack of penetration offered by the midfield and injury problems to RVP has led to United’s downfall. Also, the killer instinct seems to be missing. United just don’t appear to be threatening enough in the offensive third.

David-Moyes-CL

The form of the team affects the players but it is the fans who tend to be more vocal about it. Banners and Facebook statuses reading ‘Moyes Out’ have been flying out from the day United received a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of City. The Manager does play a huge role in influencing the way his players operate on the pitch, but if the players aren’t responding well to tricky situations then there is very little that the manager can do. In order to settle in, Moyes needs the players and the fans to back him. The players claim to do so but the fans are just not doing their duty. If you can’t support them when they are at their worst, don’t bask in their glory when they are at their best.

Fans play a huge role in the success story of a club. All fans undergo transformation over the years of supporting a club. You start of as a novice, a glory hunter. Some stay the same way throughout, others develop a connection with the club like no other.  They look up the clubs history, stay up to watch the U19 games as well and wear their passion for the club on their sleeve. Never do they let any individual demean their club in any which way.

The ever so passionate United fans

My journey as a United supporter started in 2003. The EPL had paved its way into the Indian subcontinent and had started to lure the cricket supporters away. And with it came the brand ‘Manchester United’. The club with a rich history, a great set of players, money to spend on bringing in big names and the game to win people over. And how well they did. Almost all my friends started supporting United and as I did not want to be any different, I did the same. Following the crowd? It is fine sometimes.

I slowly developed this innate passion for United and it just became a part of me. Supporting the club came from within. I grew. I matured and the fan inside me matured as well. The young me would get frustrated after petty losses and would abuse the team for not performing well. I would question the credibility of the team, the manager. I would almost never support my club during a tough period but come back roaring after a victory, glory hunter you see.

But then I realised that it takes a lot to be the best in the business. You can’t always win, you can’t always batter your opponents, sometimes you have to fight your way through. Playing badly and winning is a quality in itself.

I knew that there would be hard days, there would be petty loses but also that the club meant much more to me. It is family to me now. Those comebacks, those 1-0 away victories, the Champions league nights all that is United for me. It’s an inspiration. It’s love. I am not going to ask for sackings or abuse my players. I am going to keep my head up and support the club I love because that is what true fans do. And this is when I realised that I had transformed as a fan.

Yes, I am a worried fan at this stage because this is unfamiliar territory for us as well as the clubs that are beating us at home. It doesn’t happen that often. The game play is not as magical as it used to be. But I am sure about one thing that United won’t give up and that I won’t ever give up on my team. These are tough times and the club needs me. It needs every fan to stay by its side.

There is nothing to panic about because come March and we will be fine. See you at the top of the table 🙂

 

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Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who taught us how to dream

A post from the time when Sir Alex retired. It has taken me a lot of time to even get started with this piece. Not because I belong to the sentimental community but because I feel that something has died, a part of me, maybe more. The part of me which believed that Sir Alex would go on forever, that nothing was impossible and even a 2 goal deficit with 3 minutes to go could be achieved. United may still remain a force to reckon with, the hunger to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat may still be there but it just won’t be the same without the person who made United believe that they could rule. Sir Alex taught us how to dream, he had a vision, a vision to succeed, a vision to conquer and he did it. Along the way, he touched and changed the lives of millions. He had become a habit that we cherished. Writing about Sir Alex takes you years back into the early 2000s when football started grabbing eyeballs in India. 22 men running and fiercely competing to get the ball excited us more than 9 men sitting in the dressing room and others waiting for the ball to come to them. Once you start following football, you fall in love with the game, you fall in love with the way a team plays, its players, its stars and little do you care about who owns it or manages it, because that is not what catches the eye of a young spectator. As a novice football fan, all we care about is brilliant long range goals, hard tackles and players dribbling past defenders with ease. Little do we worry about the tactics employed, the formation or even the substitutions made. The football we see on the pitch is all what’s football to us. The manager is just a human figure occupying some space on the touchline and blurting out a few words of wisdom to his players now and then. But every once in a while there comes a genius, a man who is one of a kind, a man who demands respect and he changes the way his profession is perceived. Sir Alex was one such great, whose magnanimous persona redefined football managers and we were left with no choice but to sit back and take notice. His passion, aggression and the way he egged on his players was a delight for the novice football fan. It was the first time that we came across a non-playing leader and that is when the managerial side of football excited us. The post match presentations made much more sense now. I also started to understand how important the mind games were before a big game. There is a certain aura about him, the kind of leader you come across in extravagant books or movies. Not a believer of the ‘cool as a cucumber approach’, Sir Alex wore his emotions on his sleeves. This is what he was loved for because you respect a manager for his trophies and love him for his passion. Sir Alex’s departure from Manchester United has left us all doubting the future of the club. Believe it or not, these are trying times for the club, a legacy left behind. The future seems a bit gloomy and the club seems to be passing through turbulence. The turbulence does not frighten me because it has always been there with the likes of ArsenalChelsea,Liverpool and Man City breathing down our neck; what frightens me is not having our wily old Scottish man to guide our ship home. David Moyes has been appointed as the manager of Manchester United and now I am finally trying to come to terms with Sir Alex’s perplexing decision to call it a day. Mind you, it hasn’t sunk in just yet but the people around me have been blowing the trumpet of moving on and looking at life at United beyond Sir Alex. Now that is a tough thing to do for the 90’s kids because for us, United has been almost synonymous with Sir Alex. We haven’t seen United without him. We haven’t dreamed of United without him. All those close victories, Moscow (2008),Barcelona (1999), the Manchester derbies, the FA cup finals, the rivalry with Arsenal and Liverpool, the clashes with Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea, all seem a bit off colour if pictured without Sir Alex. His dynamics on the field, the constant chewing of gum, the ‘run and jump celebration’, the ‘hairdryer’ treatment given to his players, the bold comments during press conferences; all of this would be missed and I don’t think anyone would be able to replicate what he has done for United. The trophy count is endless, the wins unparalleled but the effect he has had on fans like us is the thing that is most commendable. Life is a long search for perfection. People try to have the perfect car, the perfect house, the perfect spouse and the perfect life. Many of us identify role models in our life in order to emulate the perfect life. They may not be perfect themselves but they have the right mix of the things you need to acquire in order to achieve perfection. Sir Alex has been one such gentleman in my life. The passion, the hunger to succeed and the vision to become the best in something you believe are a few traits I’ve learned from him. Thank you Sir for everything, you make lesser mortals like me feel good about my existence. Published first on Sportskeeda http://www.sportskeeda.com/2013/05/12/sir-alex-ferguson-respected-for-his-trophies-loved-for-his-passion/