Steve Wade’s excellent weekly column continues: As Martin O’Neill was no doubt taught by the fathers, you can go to hell for one mortal sin….
As Martin O’Neill was no doubt taught by the fathers, you can go to hell for one mortal sin, just the same as you can for a dozen or more, just like you can go out of the cup for one mortal mistake after ninety minutes of minding your manners and keeping the buggers out, at the expense of a lot of sweat and mental endeavour. And so it was, as Solskjaer hit a sweet but far from spectacular shot, and it squirmed under Villa’s man in the pyjamas.
Okay, so United were better – a lot better at times – but you couldn’t help feeling gutted because it sort of fulfilled, those deep down expectations which haunt you at night, that there’s an Indian sign (whatever that is)hanging over FA cup fixtures between the two teams. Even when Villa were better and managed to score two goals – not so long ago – they still lost. The curse of the broken cheek-bone perhaps.
The question that irresistibly comes to mind, is could it have happened the other way round, where United make the mistake in injury time and lose the match? And thinking about it, it is actually impossible to imagine, even though for United to have had twenty odd shots on goal and then losing it, would require a crazy level of freakish luck to deliver the result into Villa’s hands. Such a result would have looked like divine-intervention and I think it would have made a few Villan’s blush, had they been gifted such a piece of luck. But it would have been hard to tell because its impossible to see a blush when someone’s laughing. Even so, I bet the United fans never blushed, because the various pieces of divine-intervention, which United have enjoyed, have been overlooked or actually brushed under the carpet, so that they just see it as their divine right – a bit like the storm sinking the Armada – history prefers to forget.
United’s luck in the Fergie years, has been quite astounding. Starting with Robin’s goal against Oxford (?) which saved Ferguson’s job; Hughes’s goal against Oldham (FA cup semi-final); and then the series of events which won them the treble, after Bayern had hit the post etc. And, indeed there are quite a series of etceteras, if you care to endure the misery of counting them. But I can’t really remember them suffering the fate of say, Liverpool, who had that terrible moment when Michael Thomas scored the goal at Anfield in 1989, which robbed them of the championship. The list goes on.
I have a real problem with United. Call it jealousy or whatever you like but I have a problem with them. They even had the audacity to come back from two down, at Villa Park in (March 14 1980) during the crucial run-in, and draw 3-3; what a horrible day that was. So, when added to 1993, with United’s luck at Wednesday and Villa’s lack of luck at Norwich, you can’t blame me for resenting them. I even have a cousin, who even though he lived opposite Plainmoor and supported the Gulls with his dad, now declares himself a Man United supporter. So if you start adding all this stuff together, it is a piece of piss to dislike the club, before you have even begun to add in the antics of Cantona and Keane; and the fact that they got away with blue-murder.
My dislike is as vehement as it is irrational and it is so severe that it actually prevents me from enjoying my football if they have won, which they tend to do rather often these days. In fact, the other week, a combination of Villa losing when they should have won, plus several other unfavourable results (Blues won), rendered me incapable of watching MoTD and no matter what I said to myself I just could not bring myself to turn on the TV. Its at this point that you can’t avoid but conclude that this obsessive dislike, is doing me more harm than them and perhaps I might want to address the problem. Yes, I am a very bad loser, which is surprising, as you would think I might be used to it by now.
So, I am trying to like Man United, or at least not feel sick when they win, or get the veins standing out on temples, when I hear some biased lick-spittle from some commentator. I can remember them saying how Fletcher was a shoo-in for an England shirt, after one game and now whose he playing for? See there I go again and my neck has gone all stiff as I rattle the keys of the keyboard, slightly more vigorously than is necessary – it just ain’t healthy. I definitely need therapy, as the way things stand, it very much looks like, I have the prospect of having to endure, the season ending, with United as champions and Ronaldo as player of the season. Now you’ll get no argument from me about him being a very decent player but he’s just not my idea of a gentleman and worse still, when the trophy is handed over, into his little mits, selective-memory will kick-in and every instance of him, not quite living up to the most modest standards of sportsmanship, will not only be forgotten, they will be actually denied. At which point, it is certain that I might be seen to have a conniption fit.
All I am saying, is that I need to work on it.
Some things you just have to let go for the sake of your health and sanity. Whether I actually manage it or not remains to be seen but I intend to make a start.
Now, the sort of start I would really like, is for Villa to beat them on Saturday – that would start me on the right road to recovery and perhaps given time, I might deal with this madness.
I wouldn’t bet on it though but nevertheless – Nil Desperandum.
By Steve Wade