Frustration, hope, anger, joy. Being a Manchester United fan for the past 20 years has been easy. Since the 1992/1993 season, we’ve brought home 13 Premier League trophies. And that is not even counting our cup victories, the Champions League trophies, or our many semi-finals and finals in Europe. It would be fair to call ourselves spoiled. With the best manager of all time behind the helm, with players popping out of our own academy, with a few world class signings and playing every single game with the Manchester United ethos in mind, it has been a pure joy being a United fan. In my lifetime, Manchester United has been like a favorite movie that never ended. An everlasting Django: Unchained. It has been lovely.
Some Man United fans follow their local team as well. In my case, I watch games that do not collide with United games when my local team, Bodø/Glimt plays. I used to play at the junior department of the club and have ties with the inside. I’ve suffered. My local club has been relegated twice, gotten a second place in the top division in Norway, lost two cup finals, seen all our good players been picked up by the bigger clubs in Norway. It has been painful. But it has really come in handy this season. I know how to deal with pain that I can not do anything with, such pain that in fact Manchester United’s performances has forced on me.
We started the season on a high. An average pre-season ornamented in minor issues such as players resting after the international friendlies in the summer, players not returning from injuries and a new manager and management coming in had us left with average results in Asia. Wilfried Zaha, Fabio, Cleverley, Anderson, Januzaj and Lingard all looked great while the rest of the team was a huge disappointment. Moyes tied up both Rooney and Nani on long term contracts and won the Community Shield against Wigan. Everything felt like it was back to normal. The Premier League season was coming up and we looked strong, confident, decent. The opening game was a convincing 4-1 win in Wales against Swansea. Were we going to steamroll this season too? Van Persie, Welbeck and Valencia all played a fantastic game and we looked solid at the back. Following that, we faced a strikerless Chelsea in a 9-1-0 formation at home. We were the better team, but were not precise enough in front of goal. A boring 0-0 draw that had me gasping at half time. Mourinho lining us up as if we were Barcelona at home. Still, we had 4 points from our two first games. Things were looking good.
Then, Liverpool at Anfield, City away, West Brom at home. Three defeats in five games. And in the middle of that we crushed at the time second place in the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen. Watching United from game to game was like talking to a girl in the middle of puberty. One day, great. One day, fuck off. How to deal with this? I don’t know. Out of the next 15 games or so, we won a huge number of them. From mid October to New years, we were the in form team in the league. Back to normal? It left us feeling alright, though our play was often static and lacking precision in attack. We played like we did for huge parts of the 2012/2013 season – not beautiful, but gathering points. I was alright with it, but was afraid we might get punished against better opposition. Good opposition was coming up.
Now, from Janury to March, we lost 9 games. And that not only against good teams like Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, but also to teams we should be beating. Tottenham, Swansea, Sunderland, Stoke and Olympiacos. We looked in shambles. Fan forums in all directions were calling for Moyes’ head. Not only were we losing a lot, but the way we were losing. Uninspired, barely scoring, half of the team out injured. Never being able to field a similar XI two games in a row. Signing just one player in January. Discussions were directed towards the possibility of hiring Jürgen Klopp, Louis van Gaal – anyone! Fans all over the world voiced their concern for the club and wanted to see heads rolling. David Moyes! Phil Neville! Steve Round! Damnit, sack them all! Even Sir Alexander Ferguson got shit thrown in his direction. How could he leave an aging, poor team for the next guy to take over? Did he hire Moyes purely based on his origins? A few cool heads argued that we were transitioning from the greatest manager of all time for a lifetime, that a lot of players weren’t performing up to par and that he simply wanted to give the entire squad a chance to prove their worth and willingness to be part of this new Manchester United era. These optimistic fans, also known as the Pro-Moyes camp or called ”high horse-glorified fans” by the Moyes-out camp were taking a lot of heat in that period. And to be fair, they still do. A toothless performance at Liverpool at home and Olympiacos away does not seem to be games that most fans are able to look past. These games are being pointed out as the epitome of the new Moyes-era. The main point here is that, not only were the team performing poorly. The fans were being terrible to one another. Dividing into camps, using foul language in discussions, wanting blood. Very much uncharacteristic of our fan group in my lifetime, and very surprising to many of us. Everyone is in this together, we all want the club to succeed. We all want the team to play better football. Throwing axes at eachother is not going to solve anything.
Now, we managed to fight our way back into the Champions League by a wonderful performance at the Theatre of Dreams. 3-0 against the Greek. We were through. Bayern followed. We were good. We played with heart, soul, gut. We held them to a draw at home, but we could have won. Despite of a very disappointing result at home against our city rivals, Manchester City, we beat West-Ham, Crushed Aston Villa and a few days ago, walked all over Newcastle. Our attacking play seems to have sorted itself out a bit. Three attacking midfielders behind a mobile striker, two holding midfielders. It seems to be our recipe now. And it looks to be working out rather well.
Tomorrow, Bayern at the Allianz Arena awaits. We are massive underdogs, but Bayern are struggling a bit. For the first time in two seasons. They’ve lost to Augsburg. They drew against us. Drew against Hoffenheim. Drew against Arsenal. All in the past 30 days. If there ever was a good time for us to knock them out, this is it. We have everything to gain, they have a lot to lose. If we take the fight to them. Show them that Phil Jones heart, the Wayne Rooney will, the Danny Welbeck physique. We can do it. We need to play a 10/10 game, and that is something that we know that we are able to. Playing our best, we can challenge anyone. I can not wait.
Regardless of how the Bayern game ends up, we have a good chance of finishing the season on a high. Everton, Norwich, Sunderland, Hull, Southampton. Can we manage a 5 game win streak? End the season on a high? Go into the summer with some momentum. I think we can. I hope we do. 13 points from those 5 games would be very impressive. If that involves a lot of Kagawa, Büttner, Welbeck and Chicharito, I would be even more happy. Looking back at the season, it has obviously been a massive let down. Not only have we been poor. We seem to have been parked behind a handful of teams in the league when it comes to playing style, goal scoring ability, defensive performances, winning points. Consistency, where have you gone? We have a massive job to do. As many as 10 players could be leaving the club in the summer if you include reserve team players. Our youngsters are dominating on loan. Our young core in the team in De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Adnan and Welbeck are all looking good. I am positive and encouraged for the next season. I just wish for the United fans to treat eachother better. This is the time to, as the name implies, unite. Not to break apart. Manchester United fans have to stand together, in the good times and in the hard times. And we’ll get through this slump and come out on top. I am sure of that.