A Mutual Loving Of Mankind – Sunderland, 7th January 2014

A strong smell of splff blissed everybody out as we headed towards half time in an awful game. Apart from a stupid booking for Patrice Evra, a Ryan Giggs shot hitting the bar and a correctly disallowed Adnan Januzaj goal for offside, nothing much had happened apart from plenty of impotent United possession. Inspired by the aroma of the Casbah, reds were looking at each other and remarking how cool everything is. This happy catatonia was brutally disrupted when Ryan Giggs maintained his incredible record of scoring in every season since 1990/1991 in first half injury time. Unfortunately, for the first time in 23 years, he had put the ball into his own net having been pressured by his fellow Salfordian, Phil Bardsley, into doing so. The feelings of a mutual loving of mankind, evaporated almost immediately and transformed itself the usual atmosphere at football matches of loathing and hostility. Normal service was resumed. Half time and there was a sense of numb disbelief. Nobody could comprehend how Sunderland, a side who didn’t even know who was playing in goal for United, could be 1-0 up.

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Sebastian Larsson (bottom right hand corner) about to take the free kick which lead to Sunderlands goal in first half injury time

Seven minutes into the second half, Nemanja Vidic headed home one of his occasional goals from a Tom Cleveley corner to bring United level. Whilst United had hardly played brilliantly, there was no way they deserved to be behind. Eleven minutes later, ex Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson, bought a penalty off Tom Cleverley. The replay showed that it was a harsh decision, but from where I was in the ground, it looked like a foul. I immediately looked over to the linesman and my heart sank to see him put the flag across his chest. After Rafael Da Silva earned himself a booking for arguing about the decision, Fabio Borini and left the blameless and generally excellent David De Gea with no chance. Three minutes later, Rafael tried to emulate his older twin’s recent exploits for getting sent by fouling Borini in what under normal circumstances would’ve been a booking. I believe Andre Marriner, not a favourite referee of mine, had to be fair, exercised a bit of discretion in not sending Rafael off. It should be appreciated. The last thing United need at the moment is to be losing players of Rafael’s ability due to some stupid sending off.


The most worrying thing about United’s reaction to Borini’s goal, is that there wasn’t a single decent attempt on goal in the last 32 minutes (including injury time). Somebody should let United know, just in case they didn’t already, that goals win football matches, not possession statistics. Four years ago, United had lost a semi final first leg away at City under similarly contentious circumstances as last night. After City went 2-1 up in that game, United pummelled the City goal but were thwarted by a particularly inspired Shay Given. There was a threat and urgency about United that night which was nowhere to be seen last night. After that game at City, there was a feeling of relish amongst reds of the return leg. Coming out of Sunderland’s stadium last night, there was none of “just wait ’til we get these back at Old Trafford” kind of talk from reds. United should prevail against Sunderland in the return in a couple of weeks, but I’m not taking anything for granted on the outcome. On present form, only a fool would put good money on it.

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Fabio Borinin runs away in celebration having just scored the nights winner for Sunderland from the penalty spot 

The traveling reds last night deserved better than what they were treated too. Whilst United obviously have no divine right to win, the 5,000 United fans who went to Sunderland immediately after the Christmas period do have a divine right to at least some attacking flair from their team. This was Sunderland United were playing last night, not the catenaccio era Inter Milan side. The only flare instead, came when somebody in the United section threw one into the Sunderland section directly below in the lower tier of the North Stand, immediately after Januzaj’s goal had been disallowed. I have no problem with flares at football grounds but it is out of order when they get thrown indiscriminately amongst anybody. We will almost certainly have our allocation cut next time we play away at Sunderland because of this…

…or maybe we won’t. The official capacity for Sunderland’s stadium is 49,000. There were 17,543 empty seats for last night’s match. If this is from the supposed hotbed of English football, please don’t ever take me to where it’s cold. Bearing in mind last night was a home leg of a League cup semi final, the turn out from the self proclaimed loyalist fans in the world, who support their local team was piss poor. Before last night, Sunderland hadn’t beaten United since November 2000, a match that happened to be in the the 4th round same competition as last nights was. Then, the match enticed a crowd of 47,543. Last night, for a semi final first leg, the crowd was an appallingly low 31,547.

Then we have the atmosphere. The biggest noise created by anything to do with Sunderland was when both teams came out to “Dance of the Knights” by Prokofiev being played at ear splitting volume by the stadium MC. The long reputed Roker roar was little more than a miaow from the black cats. United fans were vocal, stoic and firm in their support from David Moyes. On May 12th last year, Sir Alex Ferguson said in his farewell address to the United crowd that “Your job now is to stand by your new manager”. United fans at Sunderland last night definitely did as Sir Alex decreed, I intend continuing to do so.

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United fans took over the Colliery Tavern on Wayman Street near the ground

6 thoughts on “A Mutual Loving Of Mankind – Sunderland, 7th January 2014”

  1. David Moyes should be ashamed of how the team is currently playing.
    I’m writing after you lost against sunderland in the first leg. My suggestion is to sign top players. Those players will come if Wayne Rooney stays at United. Man U need their playes moving around making chance’s for the strikers or all of the players should defend when the ball is in their area and keep two players at the other end always.

  2. Again, top support for United away. Criticising the performance of the team, is up to the individual. I prefer to criticise the direction the upper management has took the club, over the last 8 or 9 years. The blame game is to easy. Picking on Moyes and Ewar Woowar, is a little bit out of order.They only had one transfer window to be useless in. St Fergie and Gill, have been useless for a much longer time. We all know what’s needed. But in the mean time, our job, just in case some supporters have forgotten, is to support. There could be a year or two without much success. So take a leaf out of last nights travellers. And sing your hearts out for the lads. Leave the shit throwing to the our rivals. They will be at it. Time to be UNITED UNITED UNTED !!!

  3. Not sure the empty seats and lack of support can be directed at any team nowadays. I’m not knocking those that still stump up the money to watch their team, but I also have complete empathy with those that don’t.

    Just like I always thought it was ironic when football fans inside a stadium chastise each other for the ones who couldn’t be arsed to go, or didn’t go when they were shit…and still don’t…it’s ironic that the most revenue centric period of football to date (and it could get a whole lot worse yet) it frequented by increasingly less customers…sorry fans.

    Oh and the football was average too

    1. Interesting view. I too have respect for any fan who supports their team. But if stop shouting at each other, what do you do? Blow kisses to to the opposition fans? But seriously Robbin’, I agree with you. More basic respect for footy fans is long overdue. Football should be fun. For many years supporting United, it wasn’t winning trophies that kept us going. It was being with your pals having a laugh a few pints, win, lose or draw. But I’ve got to say, the self sainted pricks, that ‘ support their local team’ must realise that if they won anything worth winning, they too would welcome the revenue, that would follow. Ask our Blue brethren.

      1. Under normal circumstances, I’d agree. My thing, with the North East in particular is that they themselves are forever talking up their own credentials for footballing fervour. It is they whom, having not won a trophy since 1973, failed to sell 17,000 tickets for a home leg of a domestic cup semi final against the present League champions. The coup-de-grace is that tickets for this match were discounted, mostly by at least %50 and there was still that many empty seats.

        As for the quality of football, I think you’re being too generous. It was only a notch away from being staggeringly poor 🙂

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