Having picked a taxi up at the airport, I was lectured by a driver who sounded uncannily like Steve McLaren. “This is a city of 220,000 people, we have fantastic red light district and great shmokers’ cafes, why would you want to go to a shithole like Amsterdam?”
With this logic, it was hard to argue with a driver who had a similar physical presence to Wladimir Klitschko (and a similar barnet). It didn’t help this driver’s humour that the E27 was slowed almost to a standstill by a combined harvester that had a suspiciously yellow and green colouring. After all this time, I think Buckscanary has finally got his revenge.
Outside the Philips Stadion. This photo makes it look a little like Sunderland’s stadium, here though is where the comparison ends. Eindhoven’s a cracking place to visit, Sunderland… (photo courtesy of John O’Dea)
Once it became known amongst my friends that I was going to Eindhoven, I suddenly became very popular. I’ve been repeatedly asked to go into certain pavement cafés and coffee shops and to post back whatever I could buy in there. I asked for a menu in the de Bakkeri on Stratumseind 95 and I was taken aback by the choice of what was on offer.*
As we walked towards the Philips Stadion, travelling Reds gained a valuable insight into what it is like to be a cow going to the market. We were herded unceremoniously into a tunnel and forced to battle their way into the stadium. It was a bit like the motorway tunnel at Elland Road, the main difference was that it wasn’t raining bricks after we got out of the other side. Once there, we were blitzed by a PA which we couldn’t possibly compete with. At half time, we accepted defeat and decided to just enjoy it anyway.
Was the challenge intended to hurt Shaw, I think not. Was it a penalty yes. And if so was it a sending off. Yes. — Mark taylor (@TayleyShot) September 17, 2015
This sums up Luke Shaw’s moment pretty well
After an erratic first year at United, the beginning of this season has finally shown why Luke Shaw cost £27m from Southampton. In earlier games, you could see his ability but weren’t too sure about his fitness or his bottle. We are now though – and the 15th minute saw him dangerously surge forward into the Eindhoven penalty area, only to be stopped by Hector Moreno. In the stand, it looked innocuous and we all thought that Shaw had just picked up a knock. It was only as texts were coming through from a friend watching on TV that we realised the severity of the injury. A decent early atmosphere faded as we realised what had happened.
Luke Shaw being treated at the other end of the stadium (photo courtesy of John O’Dea)
A Daley Blind pass played Memphis Depay through in the 41st minute. He ran at Santiago Arias and Jeffrey Bruma, leaving Bruma flat on his arse, before slotting the ball Jeroen Zoet’s legs in the PSV goal. This was a classic United goal, the kind rarely seen since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Hopefully we’ll see more of them in the future. Wingers terrorising fullbacks, that’s United. Two minutes later, Memphis went through again but put the ball just wide. United suddenly looked rampant, but less than three minutes later, they would rue the miss. The fourth official signalled that there was to be at least eight minutes added time in the first half for Shaw’s injury. In the first of those eight minutes, a Maxime Lestienne cross was headed goalbound by Moreno, the ball deflected off Blind and past a helpless David de Gea. Half time found United fans, having been boisterous earlier (perhaps fuelled by a few purchases from local cafes) being forced to listen to PSV anthems aided by a PA system playing booming trance tunes to the delight of an increasingly manic home support. Then, as the video below shows, a moment to rank up with Dortmund in ’97 and Turin in ’99 arose, when United fans suddenly and spontaneously sprang into a classic pop song. The stadium PA blasted out Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and the whole away end went crazy, drawing looks of awe, if not outright disbelief from the home support.
The 56th minute saw PSV take the lead when Luciano Narsingh headed in at the far post from a Andres Guardado cross. United had started the second half well but had been caught on the counter attack. Three minutes later, from a brilliant Bastian Schweinsteiger pass, Juan Mata limply put the ball wide from a good position. Mata’s head was in his hands and well it should have been. Louis van Gaal is not as keen on Mata as most Reds (myself included) are. We only have to remember how ruthless van Gaal was in swiftly getting rid of Javier Hernandez, another darling of the Stretford End, to see that Juan Mata could have marked his cards with that miss.
Despite loads of possession, United didn’t have another chance to match that again from Mata. In that respect, you could make comparisons between this match and the debacle at Swansea a couple of weeks ago, but tonight was, allowing for that, more encouraging. United played well and, more importantly, at times attacked like United of old. If they carry on playing like this, I believe there will be nothing to worry about. As the final whistle rang out, the obligatory 20 minute lock-in was met with a shrug of acceptance from the 1,800 travelling Reds, who are used to being detained for far longer, especially in Latin countries. Reds even paused to applaud the PSV team who’d taken it upon themselves to perform a lap of honour, presumably in advance of winning the Champions League in next Spring… May I be the first to congratulate them…
United fans view of the pre match warm up. (photo courtesy of John O’Dea)
As a very calm and unusually chilled out Red contingent were finally released from the ground, a bizarre scenario occurred. As we left, we were then obliged to re-enter the stadium, taking part in an inexplicable police manoeuvre which meant the exiting away fans left the ground on the opposite side, but not before walking around the pitch. It was a futile bit of strategy, as two minutes later, we were amongst the happy Dutch fans they were desperately trying to keep us away from, enjoying a peaceful and much needed livener. Unlike Amsterdam in 2012 though, there was no trouble, no hint of it. The only danger to Reds was of being hugged to death by celebrating PSV fans, that was all. The local police, to give them their due, were amazingly low profile; they were there but didn’t interfere. There was no need for them to.
The city centre of Eindhoven isn’t too far from the stadium. When we got back there after the game, the aroma from hand-rolled cigarettes rose as high in the air as the people smoking them. We quickly realised that this is the first place Dionysus would’ve chosen for a weekend of debauched excess. The beer was good and the smoke fantastic. You could get a bed for €45.00 and somebody to occupy it with you for only a few euros more.
2AM in Eindhoven (photo courtesy of Lee Thomas)
I write this from Dun Laoghaire, as I await a ferry to take me back to Holyhead. This morning, I took a train from Eindhoven to Amsterdam Centraal. From there, another train to Schipol and a mad dash to make my 5.30 p.m. flight to Dublin. From there, it was 15 miles south to Dun Laoghaire docks. When I get to Holyhead, I have a 120 mile ride back to Manchester in the middle of the night. It’s been a day and half, but in just over a month’s time, I’ll be in Russia as the Red army returns to Moscow. See you there comrades.
*Marie and Joanna, you better be grateful for this