I remember waking up to the news that Sir Alex Ferguson was retiring and I didn’t believe it. I even wrote a blog detailing why I didn’t believe it. A few hours later I had to retract it as the confirmation came that Sir Alex was indeed retiring, and I was left feeling slightly numb as I came to the realization that it wasn’t that I didn’t believe the only man I have ever known in charge of the football club I adore was stepping down, it was that I didn’t want to believe it. United has been the only steady point throughout my life, and whilst I am usually quite good at dealing with change, this was a change that I had been dreading for years. Despite this, only a few days later the feeling of dread had been replaced with gratitude towards Sir Alex, and an extreme buzz of excitement in regards to the club and the changes that it would go through, some changes that had been desperately needed. Six months after the new manager took over, 9th place in the league and 12 points behind the current leaders, that excitement is still there; something I know is missing amongst a lot of our fans.
“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” Donald Trump.
Some might question likening a game of football to a battle, or the season as a whole to a war, however the two really aren’t that far apart. Wars aren’t just fought on battlefields; they’re fought in parliaments, boardrooms, and yes, on the pitch. Whilst you can mostly discount the loss of life, the focus on tactics and mobilizing your army, or in this case squad, in order to gain the advantage isn’t that dissimilar.
As my boyfriend and I were walking the dogs earlier, we came onto the matter of football, as we usually do, and then onto United and Rooney, as lately we almost always do. No more blogs on Rooney I hear you say, well don’t worry, this isn’t about Rooney, not really, he’s just a minor paragraph in the book (don’t worry; I’m not actually writing a book, it’s more like a 1000 word blog). We then came on to the subject of Chelsea’s pursuits of Willian, the likelihood of them signing him, and what that would mean for Juan Mata. That might not seem like a very natural transition, but trust me; it makes sense, just bear with me.
I used to be quite excited during the transfer window. After all, when there is no United to watch, you take what you can get as a mean of entertainment, don’t you? However, I suppose there are only so many cries of “we need a central midfielder” , “we need to sign XY and Z because I watched him on YouTube /he does brilliantly for my Football Manager team” “why are United after him, I don’t want him, I want him” or “My aunt’s uncle’s cousin twice removed saw such and such at the airport” you can take before you start to questioning your sanity, or even your interest in your whole saga. My favourite however, has to be “we shouldn’t sign him, because we have more important positions to fill”.
I wrote a very emotional blog in October of 2010. Wayne Rooney broke my heart. Admittedly, it was my own fault; I had allowed myself to fall in love with a player, who at the end of the day had left the only club he had ever loved to play for us. I was angry back then. I wasn’t amongst the fans who booed Rooney, though; I wasn’t amongst the fans who then cheered him a couple of weeks later. I stopped thinking Wayne Rooney was God’s gift that day, and I started looking at him more critically. For a while, I’ll admit I was overly critical, but Wayne Rooney doesn’t encourage the anger in me anymore, in fact he struggles to provoke any sort of emotion. Some would probably argue that I’m not neutral, that I’m so hurt by his disregard for this club that I can’t see how much the player means to me. I would say that I am more neutral than those who believe that we would be a lesser club without Wayne Rooney. No man is bigger than the team he plays in.
A couple of days have now passed since the confirmation of Paul Scholes’ retirement from football as a player, for the second time. Granted, many would have already paid their respect and written their tributes for the ginger marvel, so it may seem I am slightly behind. However, I felt that the last two days were days for celebrations and I wasn’t quite ready to say my goodbyes. The truth is, we all knew this day was coming. After a season where Paul has suffered long term injuries, and taking into account his age, I don’t think it was avoidable. For someone so talented, yet so humble, you would expect nothing else but a gracious and quiet bow out of football.
The last home game of the season is often one that makes me so happy, yet so sad. Happy because it is always a day that fills me with pride and a sense of gratitude towards the team that has worked so hard for us throughout the season. The sadness creeps in because you know that the summer holiday is imminent, and you now have the task of spending the next two months desperate for the pre-season to begin, by which point you will be in dreadful withdrawal for any kind of football that you’ll gladly get up at 3-4 in the morning to watch a game that doesn’t have any significant meaning past the players beginning their climb towards regaining match fitness and seeing any new players that have been either bought or promoted within the club getting a chance to gel with the first team. The above scenario is taken from a normal season. Of course the end of this season is anything but normal, and everything is that much more emotional because the changes our club is facing.
Yesterday I started something that I thought would be the most difficult blog I’d ever written, a good bye to Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager. Then I sat down to consider our future, our next manager and the changes that our great club was about to go through. As it turns out, contemplating a future without someone who has essentially become the picture of Manchester United, after nearly 27 years in charge of the club, is so much harder. Not because I refuse to accept that we now will be without Sir Alex, simply because it is so very hard to picture the club without the person who has been there for your entire lifetime.
There are times in your life, when you don’t know what to say. When there are no words that can describe your feelings, when every word in the dictionary would still fall short of what you would want to express. Today is one of those days that make those times look easy. How do you begin to describe, begin to show your gratitude, begin to arrange your thoughts into coherent writing when the one thing that has always been a constant in your life, suddenly is no more.
It’s very strange to have supported a club for well over two decades and having only seen one manager in charge. It’s very strange to consider that since you were 6 months old, there’s only ever been one person in charge of the club you love. It’s very scary to consider that one day, and one day soon, you will have to deal with that person leaving, and someone new will be taking his place. Like after having your dad around for 20 odd years of your life; one day your mum announces her divorce, introduces her new fella, and asks you to call him daddy. Obviously, I’d tell her to fuck off.