Things were not looking good for Manchester United. By half-time they were already 0-4 down, at Old Trafford, to Liverpool (of all teams).
“What was the worst United game you’ve ever been to Dad?” the kid sitting next to me asked his forlorn-looking father. In front of me, I could see a lady captioning a picture of the match for her Instagram followers. “F***ing boring!” it said in large letters. Very classy!
I have been a Manchester United supporter since 1995. November 1995, to be exact, the month I saw Paul Scholes gracing the cover of United, the self-proclaimed ‘official magazine of the world’s greatest club’. This guy means business, I thought; this is what it looks like to be a champion. True enough, a few years later United went on to win their famous Treble thanks to a last-minute goal courtesy of one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Fast forward 21 years and I was sitting in the stands at Old Trafford, watching Solskjaer’s team getting smashed (to quote Khabib) by their arch rivals. Harry Maguire, their captain, looked clueless; Victor Lindelof, his partner in defence, wasn’t any better. Even Cristiano Ronaldo failed to conjure up any of his old magic on that occasion. By the interval, people were leaving the Theatre of Dreams in droves, having experienced an absolute nightmare of a first half. Liverpool went on to win 0-5 despite taking their foot off the pedal in the second half; Mo Salah, United’s chief tormentor, did not play well but STILL ended up with a hat-trick.
I suppose I should be more depressed by the state of this United team. And yet, I’m not, because a few years ago, after watching United during the Moyes, van Gaal, and Maurinho era, I finally decided to stop putting all my eggs in one basket and just enjoy the football instead.
That was how I ended up at Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, in July this year. Here are some pictures from the stadium tour:
Now, put away those rotten eggs, set aside those pitchforks, and bear with me for a second. Have you ever asked yourself: why must I only support one football club? Why can’t I support a few? Better still, why can’t I enjoy the game no matter who’s winning?
These were the questions I asked myself a few years ago, having watched one too many mediocre games involving United. I decided there and then to stop worrying so much about which team wins, and to just enjoy the beautiful game. I even bought a Liverpool jersey for myself and my 3 kids, oh yes I did!
Some people are very passionate about a single football team and will remain loyal no matter what. I respect that, but I also know that my philosophy when it comes to football is a bit different. I treat it more like music, where it would be unusual to stick with only one artist regardless of how good or bad their songs are.
Ultimately, football is just a game, a form of entertainment, not some life-or-death situation. That’s why I no longer obsess over which team is playing, as long as the game itself is entertaining. So yes, I did end up enjoying the match last weekend, even if I had to keep quiet every time Liverpool scored seeing as I was surrounded by hardcore United supporters!
Anyway, here are some pictures from my two visits to Old Trafford (August and October 2021). I hope the current United team will prove themselves worthy of playing at this magnificent stadium, this Theatre of Dreams.