As an American fan of Manchester United, I am a fake. I was neither born near the city of Manchester nor lived during the time of Busby’s boys. The Munich disaster is a black and white picture on a wall in a museum, right next to the Big Bopper and Amelia Earhart. When opposing fans sing songs that pry on the lingering wounds of veteran followers, I plop in the ipod earbuds and listen to Kanye.
So I am the perfect person to examine the recent relationship between our changed, corrupted society and this duel of Gunners and Red Devils.
I begin, of course, by the obvious. As a fake shell of a fan, I am drawn to United in large part by their success. If they had not had a dominant reign under Sir Alex, I very well may be wearing the colors of another team. In fact, I may very well be a fan of cricket, not soccer, blasting forums about wickets and whatnot. But they have. And I’m not. And since when has being a fan of a winner been a crime against humanity? You can cast your lot with David, but my fiver’s on the Goliath that wins 90% of the time.
Given this backdrop, I and United get painted in utilitarian shades of black and white. United won the game today 1-0, ergo, United know how to win a game 1-0. United must win a game 1-0, therefore they find a way to win the game 1-0. Holding a slim lead with twenty minutes left, the Red Devils packed bodies behind the ball and waited to counter. Ergo, the world hates them for being so catenaccio despite only having one misfiring Italian striker on the bench. Yes, I’m convinced that in a past life Vidic was an Italian centerback with a last name ending in “ini,” but the present and now version is Serbian. So not even close.
The world forgets about the thrilling comeback victories. Instead, they point to the watch and yell about “Sir Alex injury time.’ Of course, five minutes of added time means nothing without clutch goals. Ten minutes of added time means zilch if your team lacks outstanding fitness levels. How much time did Arsenal need to score the equalizer?
If United beat their chest beforehand by Evra comments and Ferdinand tweets, then Arsenal must be the Kantian and soft spoken alternative. In terms of personal lives, Rooney shags hookers while Cesc tweetpics himself on a couch with a cat, watching the game and presumably cuddling with Ms. Whiskers. In terms of style, before this game, the forecast called for a chilling 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet no United player would dare don a neck-warming snood. Giving Sir Alex another object to throw in your face at halftime is rarely advisable – better leave those sharp-as-dagger earrings in your mangbag also.
Despite the cold necks, Park Ji Sung managed to score off a nice Nani cross. The Red Devils pushed forward for a second goal, but came up short. Nani’s finishing resembled a colorblind person playing snood “the video game” – erratic at worst, inefficient at best. Ferdinand struggled to fend with the happy feet of Sami Nasri, yet Vidic’s lunging legs saved the day on various occassions.
In a game devoid of space behind the opposition’s back line, Arshavin looked ordinary and Song looked annoyed. The Red Devils’ diligent defense prevented any of the intricate Arsenal build-up play we all love, forcing Wenger to throw on the one trick horse-English hope known as Theo Walcott. Dr. Seuss deftly declared: “See Theo. See Theo run. See Theo run fast. See Theo cross. What a f’ing disgrace of a cross.”
So, United won 1-0. Rooney missed a penalty kick that was unjustly earned by Nani’s novel idea – kick the ball at the defender’s hand. Granted, the idea ranks just below Chelsea’s frequent “run into the keeper” tactic, but you get the picture. Few can argue against the cosmic justice implications of Rooney’s miss, including his missus. And perhaps his mistress.
In summation, despite the coldness of these winter months, Arsenal look forward to another eternal Indian summer where the youthful squad lacks only a signing or two to compete. Meanwhile, United will continue to cart Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs onto the field, walkers in hand and IV firmly attached. From a utilitarian standpoint, age is just a number. Knowing how to win is all that matters.