Friday, January 24, 2014

Glory Glory Manchester United

    I still remember the time some time ago when I started watching football as a fan. That was maybe more than 14 years ago. I watched the Spanish League, I watched the Premier League and every other league possible to see in India. This was the time when we started forming associations.  I had a group of friends one of whom was an Arsenal fan and the other was a Real Madrid Fan so, with them I started cheering for their teams. It was 1st October 2000 and arsenal came up against a team called Manchester United. Sitting in the manager’s corner for United was a man who looked as if he had a different aura surrounding him. This was a star studded team , Barthez, Irwin, G. Neville, Johnsen, Silvestre, Beckham, Scholes, Keane, Giggs, Cole, Sheringham. So many heroic names. And I had heard about the exploits of one David Beckham. Inspite of supporting Arsenal because my friend was an Arsenal Supporter I somehow connected more with this team and willed that they should win. I don’t know why that feeling came. After half an hour of intense gameplay, Thierry Henry as usual unleashed his brilliance and Aresnal went 1-0 up. That was something from which united could not recover and the game went to Arsenal. My friend was jumping with joy, but strangely this time i could not connect with his joy, it was a feeling of disappointment which came over me.  There, I was converted from being a fan of whichever club my friends used to support to a MANCHESTER UNITED fan. 

   From that moment onwards I started following United, I became such a big fan within a few months that my friends were surprised, and the Arsenal fan even accused me of backstabbing him. He took it personally that I insulted Arsenal by converting to an United Fan. But, that was his view, according to me I was never an Arsenal fan and I was still trying to find some club to be associated with. Of course, there was still Real Madrid, which I liked, with the likes of Luis Figo and Zidane in their ranks, what was there to not like about Real Madrid. But then the legend called Sir Alex Ferguson was someone which no Real Madrid could ever have. The Aura surrounding him was just too much to resist. He was the master of Old Trafford, he presided over everything there.  I was an United fan but still not a complete fan as fans should be. In the Premier League there was no club i liked as much as United, but then I still liked Madrid and a certain Bayern Munich. Then came the day, 25 February, 2001 it was a Sunday. It was Manchester United vs Arsenal and this time it was Old Trafford. The home ground. The theatre of dreams, and this time I was clearly supporting Manchester United. 

The game begins, two minutes on Gary Neville plays the ball in and Dwight Yorke and Paul Scholes start playing a one two and Yorke drives the ball in.
3 minutes- Manchester United  1 Arsenal 0  
I jumped with joy this was heaven and I just loved the expression on my friends face absolute shock, he couldn’t believe how this happened, his beloved Arsenal went behind before the blink of an eye. But, for me it was just a feeling of absolute bliss. The match continued, and in the 15th Minute the ever dependent Thierry Henry beat Fabien Barthez and scored for Arsenal.
15 minutes- Manchester United  1 Arsenal 1  
Now, it was my time to feel disappointed, I cursed Bartez for letting that go in. I mean it looked like an easy stop. Well when it comes to your team, whenever the opposition puts a goal in, they never deserve it, it’s always a mistake by the goalkeeper or the defence. This time it was my dear friend who jumped and started teasing me. He told me now it’s time for United to go home and that Arsenal will go on a goal scoring spree after this , he had just said those words and then magic happened. Roy Keane, sent a superb pass in to Dwight Yorke and he put it in ..... GOALLLLLLLLLLL, that was amazing, I just couldn’t stop jumping.
17 minutes- Manchester United  2 Arsenal 1  
But little did I know that this was just the beginning. Twenty minutes on the ball goes to David Beckham, and he sends across one of his patented crosses to Dwight Yorke again, and he seemed to be on a roll that day, he took it on his chest and then brought the ball down and sent it straight in, it was Goal United and a hat trick to Yorke. This was it, this was the moment I converted completely, this set of talented players were my stars. No Real Madrid, No Bayern Munich No anyone could beat that feeling. Manchester United was my club and Yorke was my hero.
22 minutes- Manchester United  3 Arsenal 1  
And then just three minutes later it’s time for Roy Keane to step in he gets a cross and he nails it in perfectly beyond Seaman’s reach, the England international goalkeeper seemed completely lost and flummoxed and its Goal united again, this time it’s the captain and Arsenal are doomed to more misery.
25 minutes- Manchester United  4 Arsenal 1  
Its nearing halftime, and my friend seemed to have lost interest in the match, and I felt so contented with what was going on that even I was least bothered to see what’s going on when I heard the commentator going Goaaaaaaaaaaaal. I turned to see who had hit the Goal United or Arsenal, it was United again. This time it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
37 minutes- Manchester United  5 Arsenal 1  
After this everything went blur, this was the same United team which had lost 1-0 at Highbury the then home ground of Arsenal and here at Old Trafford, it was not even half time and United were 5-0 up. There was no way Arsenal could undo this and the resigned look on Arsne Wengers face said everything.  The second half went mostly listless with both sides trying to outwit each other, but then it was United again which piled the misery on Arsenal. At just above the 90th minute Teddy Sheringham put in his 19th goal of the season and completed the rout.
90 minutes- Manchester United  6 Arsenal 1  

    The gunners we completely gunned down.  United went on to win the League. It was champions United. This was the season I became United for life. From that moment onwards I have followed my club through thick and thin and cheered for them in all situations. The saddest day for me as a fan was 12th May 2013, the day Sir Alex retired.

   My club is going through a low phase currently. We are at a position in the league, where we haven’t been since a long long time. But I believe in the team and the new manager. It might take some time, but the team will be rebuilt, and will return to its former glory soon. Even in this low phase, United managed to beat Arsenal this season, that gave immense satisfaction. For me it’s always going to be GLORY GLORY MANCHESTER UNITED. 
Times change, People change.. But some stories still remain the same

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