English football used to be easy. You played from August to May and at the end Man Utd won. With that changing overnight (or close enough) who will the discerning glory supporter turn to now?
It’s the fans who decided to support Man Utd a year ago that I feel sorry for. All those poor residents of Essex and Ireland and Asia and wherever the rest of the 500 million fans are based chose their team based on twenty years of unqualified success only to see it snatched from them. Where will they turn now?
Across town is the probable answer. Man City would be the logical choice, they’ve the money to be sure of being there or thereabouts for the foreseeable future and play a style of football just kamikaze enough to be able to claim you like them for aesthetic reasons.
Or there’s Chelsea. For fans of mind games played loud enough to become essentially snarky white noise they’re irresistible. And you can spend £40 million in a transfer window and still claim to be the underdogs.
It comes to something when Arsenal are viewed as the left field choice. In a world where finishing third is viewed as underachievement the sensible glory hunter would surely balk at backing Arsenal’s boys?
The sad things is any Man Utd fan born from the early 80s onwards has never known anything like this. They have no coping mechanism, no frame of reference. A lifetime of being successful is all they’ve brought up to expect.
For the rest of us it’s amazing. The delight in watching a formerly all-conquering team well and truly stack it is one of the best things about following football. For Man Utd fans it’s terrible. For everyone else it’s a dream come true.
If you’re watching the Bundesliga because the pressing is of a much higher standard and can’t understand why people are taking such delight in Man Utd’s failings you’re only half a football fan. As only Germans can do they have their own word for this, schadenfreude or joy in someone else’s defeat (a word that could have been coined just for the rest of the country laughing at Bayern in the days when they used to implode).
Not as much fun for Man Utd fans, glory hunting or not. When the novelty wears off you’d imagine they’ll be left with a lot less than 500 million. And what’ll gall them most is they’ll most probably turn their attentions across town.