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Pride May 22, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Uncategorized.
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Decked in black, forlorn, crestfallen and gutted, the players stood in the centre circle of the Millenium Stadium as the Arsenal players danced deliriously around. Players, fans, burn that image into your mind because this is going to be what determines our future. The last few weeks have been amongst the worst for our club. Thrashed by Chelsea on our own ground, finishing 20 points behind and third in the league, suffering the indignity of an American hostile takeover, and yesterday mugged of the FA Cup. For sure, there are worse things in football than finishing third in the league and an FA Cup final. But for our club, we expect more. Manchester United are winners and don’t you ever forget that.

The season gone by was astounding. How can a season including a double win over Liverpool and a 4-2 victory at Highbury also include humiliations at Norwich, West Brom and Crystal Palace? How can a team that enjoys Wayne Rooney’s spectacular volleys and so famous for scoring goal after goal, fall so short of Chelsea or be so bereft of ideas against Milan? The truth is, the Cup Final embodied our season: the opposition outplayed, our hearts on our sleeves but the chances not taken. This is now every United fan’s worst nightmare. As the missed chances stack up, our worst fears creep up on us – it is not to be. And that has happened far too much this season.

What will happen, now that we’ve finished third for the second year in a row? What can be done after again failing in Europe at the first knock-out stage? How can we keep in touch now that Chelsea’s millions have raised the bar so tremendously high? Belief is what we need, belief in tradition, belief in the values that Manchester United stand for: passion, team-spirit, never say die. The fear is that the Glazer takeover will change all that, our values sold with the soul of our club to the highest bidder (not to mentiona huge amount of debt). We fear the worst, but the truth is none of us know for sure how this is going to pan out. It’s true, the club has grown stale these past few years, but will the injection of American patriots change that or lead us futher down the road to corporate nothingness, a road which is already an embarrassment to the true fans?

The truth is, this summer will tell us a lot about ourselves: the owners, the manager, the players, the fans. Every one of us will take a good hard look at ourselves and ask, what does Manchester United mean to me? What do I want from the future and what must be done to achieve it? When first game of the new season kicks off we’ll know. Right now, we’re losers and that will separate the true fans from the glory-seekers, the hangers on. Right now, we’ve won nothing and now we’ll see what these Americans intend to do about it – stick with tradition or sweep it all off for some quick fix? Right now, the players are for the first time really feeling what it’s like to be sucker-punched, kicked in the teeth, losing when their performances deserved better. I feel sad at the loss, but watching those dejected faces I had nothing but immense pride for the way they performed. I’d half expected Arsenal to win, after three wins against them this season, they were due one against us. But for 120mins in our last game of the season I saw the real Manchester United: heart, determination, a will to win. All that was missing was the finish and if they didn’t realise it already, the players now know what they have to do better. And it is that powerful sense of injustice that once and for all, will shake us for our slumber.

I fear. I don’t know what my club will look like when it emgerges in August. But I do have faith in that which we fans support: the players, the manager, the tradition. Even if all around them changes, I know after yesterday’s game that the real spirit of Manchester United is alive and well. And that spirit never dies.

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