Forgive Me Father For I have Sinned
It’s been a while since my last confession, forever actually because I’m not catholic, but there’s something that I’d like to be forgiven for. I was actually cheering for Manchester United last night. I am mildly ashamed and I’m sorry for what I’ve done.
As a Manchester City fan they’ve been responsible for countless heartbreaks, sleepless nights, and general depression for going on twenty years now. They’ve beaten us badly, narrowly, inside the first five minutes, and who could forget seven minutes into extra time. They’ve made me very unhappy over the years and I can say that my inner 3rd grader is correct when he says “I hate their guts”. So why on earth would I be cheering FOR them? In a cup semi-final no less.
Well the answer is simple, they would’ve played City in the final. For fifteen years I would’ve given anything to even see City in a cup final and now I’ve seen them there twice in the last three years. For all fifteen of those years I would’ve thrown up if I found out that United were our opponent. It would’ve almost certainly meant a loss and I would’ve hoped that they scored early and often because I’ve found that it hurts a lot less than their winning in the last couple of minutes. That’s awful no matter how many times it happens.
This year things are a bit different. City have already scored 106 goals. We scored 92 last year and for those that don’t know the season doesn’t end until the last week of May. We average 4 and a half goals at home. Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Alvaro Negredo, and Edin Dzeko have combined for 40 goals in league play. Everton have 55 goals as a team, and they’re in 6th place. When City played United back in September it was 4-1 City with the scoreline flattering United. It should’ve been 6-0. Since then United have lost five times at home, been bounced out of the FA Cup in the first round, and slipped to an unimaginable (for them) 7th place in the league table. For the first time, I wanted a Manchester Derby Cup final, I figured that City would score double digits.
An absolute drubbing in London at Wembley is what I was dreaming of when United took the field against Sunderland last night in the league cup semi final. The semi final is played over two legs and while City had secured their place in the final via a 9-0 aggregate score United was behind 2-1 coming into the home leg of the matchup. One goal would ultimately be enough to see United through to the final (due to a strange interpretation of the away goals rule that I will spare you an explanation of).
When Johnny Evans, as likeable a United player as they’ve ever had, scored just before halftime I thought that the script had been written. All United would need to do was hold on for 45 minutes knocking the ball around and then when Sunderland finally realized they’d have to get the ball and put it in the net they’d find themselves caught out and United would poke in another one and that would be that. I still couldn’t find it in my heart to actually hope United would score but when they did I was strangely okay with it.
As the game progressed into extra time, United had a clear breakaway and a chance to put the game away. When Javier Hernandez bent his shot 3 feet wide, I exhaled a sigh of relief and realized I had snapped out of it. The cameras showed countless United fans in the stands baffled as to how their team was embroiled in such a battle with lowly Sunderland. As the tv cameras lingered on, these persons I remembered that there was no way that I could ever wish them joy under any circumstances. They were still proudly displaying all their banners about trophies they’d won in years past, players who’d come and gone, and hilariously enough a banner for David Moyes entitled “The Chosen One”. Chosen to lead them into mid-table obscurity, but that’s a whole ‘nother column as they say. Manchester United fans are about glory only, they’re the type who support the Yankees, Lakers (but now the Heat), Patriots, and whoevers good at hockey. To see them lose to us, in a cup final, would’ve been awesome. But as I was reminded last night, it doesn’t really matter who beats them I’m happy every time.
I did cheer for Manchester United last night, for a little while. I’m not happy about it. I realize that my reasons for doing it were actually pretty mean and that my mom would “not be happy about that kind of behavior”. I can’t see myself ever doing it again but I still feel compelled to apologize. I now see the error of my ways and I promise to do better. Soccer fans everywhere, please forgive me.