#AtoZChallenge – Letter M – Manchester United

M

Football/Soccer is my second favorite sport after cricket. I started following cricket sometime between 1987 and 1988 (it’s an interesting story; more on that later). Interest in football came a little later. I used to follow football news appearing in newspapers but wasn’t so keen to watch on TV although I used to play when in school. It was in the early 90s that I started to develop a much broader outlook towards football, courtesy of the 1990 World Cup held in Italy.

Interest in club football was sparked by a news item about Manchester United which I happened to read. I don’t recollect exactly what that news was about but it did light the fire. Once I started watching them from the mid 90s, my fondness for the team increased. It only strengthened throughout the 90s and has now reached a stage where no other team can take its place in my mind. Such has been the influence the team has had on me.

If you ask me why I like Manchester United, I really wouldn’t be able to pinpoint a single factor. It has really been a function of several factors. I particularly liked the way they played under Sir Alex Ferguson. It was under him that the team found wings in that terrific last decade of the 20th century. The team produced stalwarts as Peter Schmeichel, Eric Cantona, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Gary and Peter Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to name a few. The team also saw Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney rise to prominence during their tenure at the club.

Old Trafford (OT) is another reason I like Manchester United. It’s an imposing stadium – so imposing that it’s known as the Theatre of Dreams. This is where Manchester United play their home matches and they have tasted so much success at OT. Opponents regard OT as a difficult place to win. Although things have changed in the recent past, OT still continues to inspire awe among footballers. Another thing that makes me proud to be a Manchester United fan is their 1998-99 season treble. It was truly a special moment and happens to be the pinnacle of their achievements so far. Their anthem is also quite unique – Glory, Glory, Man United!

Since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013, 27 years after he took over, the team has been in a state of flux which has spurred some indifferent performances. I am a bit saddened by the fact that they are not playing like they used to but take solace from Allan Border’s Australian cricket team of the late 1980s. Border’s team was one which went through a lot of difficult times but eventually set some very high benchmarks for future Australian cricketers. I’m sure this transition stage is only temporary and it will not be long before they start making me a happy and contented Manchester United fan. To borrow and tweak an ad jingle of a popular cricket tournament that is now being played in India – ‘Ek Manchester United fan happywala’ – that’s what I hope to be soon!

Written as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/