There’s this fella that makes me laugh, when I catch the wrestling on the TV on the odd occasion. He has made a career out of shouting ‘NO NO NO’ as a catchphrase…to show his disdain at things he dislikes. As time has gone on, he has also cultivated the catchphrase ‘YES YES YES’…that is right, you’ve guessed it…to show his approval of certain situations. The wrestling fans love it, and it is easy to see why. Rather than be a sport, it is deemed as entertainment, and it has a direct correlation to all things showbiz: Catchphrases and manufactured anger are all part of the game…it is a pantomime for fans of a physical soap opera.
This approach to wrestling seems to be creeping into football. Hashtags and hand grenades get thrown by fans, like the faux booing you hear in the WWE. And certain players play the villains – even when the solitary thing those players desperately need is our support.
The biggest question being banded around at present is this: Is Ashley Young good enough to play for Manchester United?
It is indeed a valid question. You could in all seriousness ask it about Lindegaard, Fabio, Anderson, Cleverley…even Welbeck still has this question asked about him (those fans are clearly idiots) But the question loses its relevance when the player is on a hiding to nothing, in what appears to be a full scale witchhunt of the lad…
Do I think Young is good enough for United? – I don’t see it as a simple yes and no answer. I think: Can we afford to replace Young with a world class player – a player who will happily not play half the matches and cost twice as much in wages? For me: NO! (in WWE fashion) What I think is that at United we have two very talented young lads that might be our wide men for many years. Both Januzaj and Zaha have the raw talent to go on and be the very best. Are they ready now? Not quite. It wont be long…so what do you do in the mean time? Ashley Young is a means to an end in many ways. The boy is an international footballer. He has won the PFA Young Player of the Year previously, and has appeared in two PFA Premier League Team of the Year selections. Ashley Young is NOT a bad footballer. However, everyone and their mother will now tell you that he is. That he is poison. That he is a pile of tripe. And the sad thing is…it is United fans building the bonfire for him.
We expect our players to leave it all on the pitch for us every match, yet we cannot reciprocate this with our support. Some players appear to be immune to this. Our dearest Wayne has well and truly shut up the baying mob with his recent performances, even though he can’t even say he is ‘happy’ at United in front of a TV camera. But Ashley Young, you feel he could score a worldy from 35 yards, and a large section of Reds would call it either a fluke, or a touch of luck.
I really don’t like coming across as all Mother Teresa when it comes to fan support, but those two entities: The Fan and The Supporter…are moving away from each other in terms of recognition and similarity. The Fan appears to act like a teen boyband fan: reactionary, screaming in hysteria…as the hormones pump through their bloodstream, whereas The Supporter watches it all…wishing it would all just stop. Is this an age thing? Maybe. But it appears to be an attitude in 2013 that perpetuates aggression and celebrates failure.
I do not think Ashley Young is a great footballer, but in the standing of our squad…he has his uses, and has ability. Yesterday, I was not surprised he started at City. We needed a player who could do the dirty work down the left. I’m infinitely more in love with Shinji Kagawa than Ashley, but it doesn’t take a football rocket scientist to understand the basic tactic that needed to be deployed. As it happened, the tactic backfired. We sat deep, and City slaughtered us. Moyes must accept the responsibility for that, and I am sure he does…but would Fergie have picked the exact same team? I have a funny feeling he probably would have.
Fandom has taken over from actually supporting a football club. This is partly down to the clubs themselves, who wish to be super brands that generate cash like the Bank of England. However, the fan is also responsible. With their insatiable need to be connected to the brand and their desire too vent their opinions in a ‘freedom of speech’ world. Unfortunately many mask their vitriol as opinion – the two things are simply not the same.
I have seen so many say they would like Ozil more than Young – YES YES YES! Who wouldnt? But with our owners? When we just paid SEVENTY PLUS MILLION POUNDS out in interest payments alone, just for the privilege of Glazer ownership? – some of you need to get real. Players like Young are in the squad and will be used, whether you like it or not. Sure, criticise him when he deserves it…when he dives like a muppet, or has a bad game. But don’t kill him 24/7. Why do I say this? Because as fans we are supposed to back the team and our players: Not with blind faith, but with a siege mentality that one great Scotsman drilled into us. This is the United I know. This is the United, that at 4-0 yesterday, out sung the City home support with ’20 Times Man Utd’
Anger is not anything new in football. Once upon a time an angry supporter might have glassed you in a pub, circa 1985. Today, an angry fan tweets until his toxic fingers can tweet no more (yes I tweet alot as well!)… I do think that anger needs to be channelled though. I personally can’t stand Antonio Valencia (and this is not something I talk about in public much) I think he is a poor footballer…a player who can’t cross a ball, which is a problem for a winger! But he was definitely the right choice yesterday (even after some dreadful tracking for their first goal), and when he is in our shirt I will scream my lungs out FOR HIM…not against him. Why? Because I support the team first. It is a simple concept. Fellaini…a player all but two-and-a-half games into his United career, already has sections of the fanbase sharpening their knives for him…seriously, why would anyone want to join us when fans do that???
This could be a really long season, but I am up for it. The post Fergie years are new, and it is a chance to move forward. However, one thing is for sure: If the fanbase do not support our players, whether they are the Harry Styles of the team or not, then we have not got a prayer. Think about that. Think about what your support actually means. The club has many more trying issues than Ashley Young, so channel your aggression in that direction, and sing your hearts out for the lads…