We dared to dream – Sunderland 13th of May 2012

United fans were in loud and boisterous voice at a virtually full Stadium of Light. When Wayne Rooney scored a header from a Phil Jones cross on 20 minutes after some shocking marking by Sunderland, it was no more than United deserved. Ten minutes later, Rooney hit the bar from 18 yards and then four minutes later, missed one of the easiest chances he’ll ever have from an Antonio Valencia cross. Apart from a period early in the second half, United were full control of this game but there’s always a feeling of vulnerability when only a goal in front. Today was actually United’s best performance in a few weeks; there was a professionalism to the defending and midfield play that if it had been observed in recent matches would have probably given United the title.

There was a similar potential ending in season 2009/2010 when Wigan Athletic went to Chelsea on the last day of the season and we were hoping Chelsea would drop points while United played Stoke City at Old Trafford. As expected, United beat Stoke comfortably (4-0) but what I clearly remember is Chelsea having the decency to wrap the game up against Wigan good and early, eventually winning 8-0 to extinguish any vain hope that might have been travelling around Old Trafford. This didn’t happen today. Going into injury time with United winning 1-0 and City losing 2-1, I wasn’t getting carried away with any premature celebrations. I’ve seen United recover too many impossible positions over the years to take anything for granted in football. We dared to dream but when word got back that Edin Dzeko had equalised for City, I had a feeling that with City throwing the kitchen sink against a beleaguered QPR, who’d been reduced to ten men, they would score. One thing that does make me proud is that SKY TV desperately searched around the United section in the Stadium of Light looking for somebody squawking – well done to all the lads and lasses who went their today and kept their bottle and dignity.

So now it comes to pass, the moment I felt in my guts coming after the Everton match at Old Trafford. This is the day I never thought I’d see, City are champions. It’s almost a relief. As John Cleese said in the 1986 film Clockwise, It’s not the despair, I can take the despair. It’s the hope I cant stand. The Sergio Aguero goal was a sickener but to me, the real kick in the balls came with Steven Pienaar’s late equaliser at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Despite United blowing an eight point lead, only the most red eyed United fan would deny that City aren’t worthy champions. The most annoying thing to me was that in the early part of this calendar year, United had done the hard bit and come early March, compared to City, had a very favourable run in. Having said that, any team that puts six past United at Old Trafford would deserve the title. Any title chasing team that blows a two goal lead in a home match, so close to the season’s end deserves what they ended up getting. It’s been pointed out repeatedly recently by people in the pub and on the internet that if it wasn’t for refereeing mistakes, United would’ve been four points clear of City going into this weekend. That may be true but to be clinging to straws like that is embarrassing and to my mind, the kind of behaviour that we’ve been taking the piss out of City fans for years. This is not like Blackburn Rovers in 1995 or Chelsea in 2010 when United were robbed of the title by a side who had no right winning it, this season United have only themselves to blame. All those City fans we saw jumping around outside Eastlands four years ago with tea towels wrapped around their heads have finally seen what they were dreaming of. No longer can City have the peculiar affection that the English are so good at giving to the eternal losers and that their fans have inadvertantly thrived on for years, in compensation for being shit. Welcome to our world Berties, try not to embarrass our proud city too much, from what I’ve seen over the years, I fear you will. Just remember one thing, you’ll no longer be the darling of the neutrals.

9 thoughts on “We dared to dream – Sunderland 13th of May 2012”

  1. One of the best things to come out of this season has been this blog. Agree completely with your comments today. Keep it up Murf and we’ll keep the red flag flying high.

  2. Totally agree. Great blog, really enjoyed reading it. Couple of crumbs of comfort (and they really are crumbs): highest points total of any runner up in the prem league and of you take away the derbies we got 6 more points than city in the other 36 games. Ah well, roll on next season!

  3. Gotta be honest and say that I gave the whole last day festivities a bodyswerve. I have a mate who’s a West Brom season ticket holder and he offered me his missus’ ticket for their final game against Arsenal. On the whole, it seemed like a better alternative than the Sky Sports Love-In with all things sky blue.

    I should have known how things would pan out when I jumped off a bus in the centre of Birmingham and sprained something in my left foot, meaning that I have been limping around like Dustin Hoffman in ‘Midnight Cowboy’ ever since. Made it on to the tram out to The Hawthorns which was full of noisy Gooners singing nice things about Robin Von Parsnip and nasty things about Tottenham.

    Met my mate outside the ground and went in to a boisterous end-of-season atmosphere with lots of beach balls and rubber rings (an end of season tradition amongst Baggies fans, apparently) being chucked around and the travelling Gooners in fine voice. It was an entertaining game, too, with the lead changing hands on several occasions and the Gooners only winning in the end thanks to a couple of Taibi-esque errors by Albion’s reserve keeper, Fulop.

    However, I was hoping to avoid news of events at the Council House or elsewhere, but there was some motormouth girl behind us who kept up a running commentary, so I knew all too well what was going on. What surprised me, I suppose, was the high ABU factor among the Baggies fans. Many of them seemed in despair when the second QPR goal went in and correspondingly ecstatic when Aguero scored City’s winner.

    This did come as a surprise because I’ve been to numerous games at The Hawthorns over the years, both as an ‘away’ fan in the United end and also as a ‘guest’ in among the Albion fans and I’ve always found them to be a reasonably tolerant bunch. However, there was one game a few years back where we stuffed them 5-0 at The Hawthorns and our best player was referee Rob Styles who sent off Albion full-back Robinson for a tackle on Park where he clearly won the ball and generally gave a raft of dodgy decisions – most of which favoured us. I was in among the Baggies faithful that night and Styles was lucky to get off the pitch alive. No wonder the fans of mid-table teams bleat on about never getting decisions against the big clubs – Styles might just as well have worn United red that night. It was the same today; every time anyone went anywhere near Von Parsnip, he went down quicker than a three-dollar hooker (as they say) and the crowd were incensed at how referee Mike Jones fell for it virtually every time.

    With the gobby girl behind us having delivered the bad news about City, I left my mate inside to enjoy Roy Hodgson’s farewell speech and the obligatory end of season lap of honour and limped outside for a reflective ciggy – trivia fans will no doubt want to know that Ben Foster was voted Player of the Year both by the fans on the Albion website and also by the Albion players .

    As I stood there waiting, loads of Albion fans were coming out and getting straight on their mobiles to their mates. It seemed that all they wanted to talk about was the fact that City had beaten us to the title and many of them seemed more concerned/excited about that than the fact that their own team had just lost unluckily to The Arse. As you say, Murph, “Welcome to our world, City.” The novelty may wear off as quickly as it did with Chelsea, but we’ll have to wait and see.

    As for the pain of it all, that’s mainly in my foot. Like you, I’d basically waved the title goodbye after the Everton game, so today was just a confirmation of the inevitable. The coach journey back from Sunderland will have been long and pretty unpleasant. The players will not have enjoyed it, but I suspect that Fergie will have enjoyed it least of all. Let’s hope he is already plotting his revenge and dusting off that chequebook.

    1. Maybe the West Brom fans are a tolerant and genial bunch but tell them that you’re a United fan and their reasonable demeanour will disappear. I’ve met West Brom fans on my travels and have always found them that way.
      It’s historic, West Brom fans were the the first to mock the Munich Air crash at an FA Cup match at the Hawthorns in March 1958, less than a month after it happened. More recently, In the summer of 1981, United took their manager, Ron Atkinson, star midfielder, Bryan Robson and the tenacious Remi Moses in the space of three months, they might still be a bit sore about it. It’s not reciprocated, if a West Brom fan get’s gobby and gets a slap, then so be it but their dislike of us is a bit like a fly trying to lay a punch on a bear.

  4. What do we say ?
    Just got back from Sunderland voice gone.
    Well Blackburn away will be a loss next season, always great day out the ice box that I’d the reebok will not be missed
    Now let’s hope that plans are afoot to sort out the reds midfield. It’s lacked a lot in the big games and we need it to be bolstered. Who – answers on a postcard. Let’s be honest anyone half decent and city will bid silly money for!
    Not sure what next but we came back from the challenge of Chelski and I am sure we will again
    As the song goes – keep the red flag flying high!

    1. From what I’ve seen, admitedly on You Tube, Edin Hazard looks just the man but my money’s on him going to City. As for Blackburn next season, I see what you’re saying regarding ticket allocation and proximity but as far as I’m concerened, it’s good riddance to them and their hillbilly cousins down the A666 at Horwich

  5. Well I suppose bad dreams do come true. But not the nightmare it could be. Swap biteh citeh for the grief monkeys that contaminate football, now that would choke me up for days. Not a few hours. Special mention must go the loyal bitters who, like the Gallagher sisters in ’99, walked out at 1 2 down, when the players needed them most and then tried to get back in. I really believe they are there to entertain us in our moment of reflection.Writing of ‘support’, why are the bitters so ashamed of their out of town/travelling tourist. Judging by the number of blue shirted, haversack carrying families wondering ‘where can we get summat to eat?’ I think the stockport lot should embrace these lost and lonely souls in this RED TOWN of ours.
    They say the league table doesn’t lie. Quite so, it doesn’t. But it can deceive. If anyone thinks the noisies are going to sweep all before them could be in for a surprise. The Russian loving fans in South West London had similar ideas in the mid noughties but barring a shock/fluke result they will be back to where they were before he robbed the Russian people blind, winning the once prestigous FA cup now and again. Here’s hopin’. It’s all been said ad nauseum what we need. ‘No question’ a great man once said. Do we REDS really believe that, that GREAT MAN who will be gone soon is going to go with a wimper. This RED, like him or not, believes he will do all in his power to make sure that does not happen. He may be all the things some REDS say he is, regarding personal ambition etc. But I for one have enjoyed, as I did in the Busby days, this exciting journey. We are all in this for personal reasons. So lets do our job properly and get behind him and the shirts. It’s now we prove our value. Not just when we are welcoming another trophee in the near future. The last word from me, is a well done from this RED to the balance and genuine sounding CITY FANS, on these pages. I know there are plenty of them from my own experience. They could give lessons on how to present yourselves in public. Just a thought. A good read from all on here, specially you MURPH, without we all be crying in our pillows SNIIIFF.

  6. From the blue corner I have to say I must pretty much agree with all that’s been said above (Never thought I’d see City win it, hope we don’t embarrass the city, to keep up at the top we need to start busing fans in (A sorry state that football now finds itself in)) but mostly, I agree with how entertaining this blog has been!
    I never thought I’d have “manutdfansblog” in my favourites (okay so it’s actually listed as “xxxhardcore.animal.porn” to save embaressment). I may not agree with all you’ve said, but it has consitentently been a thought provoking, funny, interesting read. Keep it up for through the summer and in the years to come – I’m sure there’s lots of topics to keep you going (Team GB, the Euros, anything Sepp Blatter has been up to)
    And finally, yes Tony, you are (nearly) bitter enough to be a city fan !! (See you soon!)

    Phil

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