Saturday, December 10, 2011

Europa League - Be Better, Not Bitter

The last time an English team won the Europa League was in 2001 - a time when the competition was known as UEFA Cup. It was the year when Liverpool completed a treble of cups most of us laughed off as the Mickey Mouse Treble; a commendable achievement nonetheless. It's basic common sense - forget winning 3 trophies; even 1 trophy is better than 0. Ask an Arsenal fan how it feels to be devoid of silverware of any kind for the last so many years. Recall their exuberance even against Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final and how they were shocked at not being able to overcome a team which eventually got relegated to the Championship. A trophy is a trophy - it's better to add to that cabinet than maintaining the status-quo. 

It's a bit daft that Europa League is looked down upon with disdain by quite a few teams in Europe. Let's not lose sight of the fact that there are only two trophies that UEFA offers to European clubs. In the recent past, European clubs with historical pedigrees have crashed out of the so-called minnow competition. Yes, even giants like Barcelona, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Liverpool have failed to win it. This is what I don't understand. One should look down on a competition only if it's easy to win. If you're getting knocked out of a competition by the so-called smaller teams, then what exactly merits your arrogance? 

It represents nothing but a defeatist, bitter psyche. Feyenoord, Porto, Valencia, CSKA Moscow, Sevilla, Zenit St. Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid are the teams that have lifted the trophy in the last decade. The only two English teams to have made it to the final during this period were Middlesbrough and Fulham - both of them lost to Spanish teams. It gave further credence to the theory that La Liga is a btter league than EPL. So, let's ask ourselves again - what merits the arrogance if EPL teams can't even win Europa League?

If Tottenham and Birmingham can manage to survive in the Europa League, they would be joined by the Big Boys contingent of United and City. Add Fulham and Stoke to the equation and we would be looking at a mini-EPL competition within the Europa League. This English group would be joined by teams like PSV, Sporting, Atletico Madrid, Besiktas, Braga, Schalke 04, Ajax, Valencia and current Europa League champions, Porto. I would call this anything but an easy ride. The Champions League going ahead to the knock-out stages this year consists of teams like Napoli, CSKA Moscow, Benfica, Basel, Lyon, Leverkeusen, Marseille, Nicosia and Zenit St. Petersburg - you wanna know what's common among these teams? They regularly feature in Europa League every year. Our disdain towards Europa League would only be merited if we win it.

Let's look at two basic questions. What's better - winning a competition we're in and adding the only trophy that's missing from our cabinet or not winning it all just 'cause we're arrogant enough to think that it's "beyond our stature"? 

Secondly, if we're so WICKED, how would you feel if after Basel, a team like Braga knocks us out of the competition? Would you feel thrilled at that prospect?

These calls by some United fans to field a weakened team in Europa League are daft. Sorry to break your balls, but all youse calling out for this are just LOSERS!! Manchester United competes in the European contests that we're playing in. We DO NOT give up. We DO NOT play to lose. We play to win competitions. That's what real winners do. We would emerge as REAL CHAMPIONS only if from here on, we give everything we have and win the league, FA Cup as well as Europa League and hence prove once again the kinda stuff that United is made of.

What if we had progressed to the knock-out stages? Does anyone have a guarantee that we would've qualified for the Quarter Finals? If we had lost during the next round, we would have been out of Europe completely. At least, right now, we have an additional trophy to compete for. 

Why do we feel embarrassed to be in Europa League? Let's not kid ourselves here. We're in Europa League 'cause we've consistently made tactical errors in Europe since 2007, to the extent that now we've become a predictable team. Other teams stifle us to defeat. Our team work is consistently sloppy and the lads have been letting the manager down on a regular basis. All these factors effectively translate into one fact - on the basis of recent performances, we DESERVE to be in Europa League. 

So, what's the appropriate way REAL CHAMPIONS would respond to this? Would it be to field weakened squads so that someone like Besiktas or Ajax can beat us and in history books, we get knocked out of n inferior competition by an inferior team? Does that even make any fuckin' sense? Wouldn't that be embarrassing? Get a fuckin' grip over yourselves. Get a reality check! The reality is that we ARE now in Europa League. I'd rather win it than get thrashed by a minnow just 'cause I was arrogant enough NOT to take it seriously. 

Lots of twats among our ranks are peeved by the fact that rival fans taunt them about Basel knocking United out of Champions League. Well, sample this - how would you feel when the same rivals taunt you about Sporting knocking you out of Europa League? Would that heal your pain? DAFT!!

I've read some appallingly disturbing comments by certain "United Fans" recently. Check out some of them:

"Let's play useless players like Berba, Owen, Carrick, Gibson and the cripple Rio in Europa League!!"


"Let's not play that cripple Rio - we may need him for the league games when other useful players are injured!!"


"Let's take this as a practice session by giving some game time to Diouf, Pogba and Ravel!!"

Are these knobs serious??

Are they even United fans?

Don't sound like Red Devils to me!!

Just analyze their psyche - players wearing the United badge are disrespectfully termed as "useless". Rio Ferdinand, one of the best defenders not only in United's history but in the history of the game itself is dismissed off as a "cripple". Europa League is a competition instituted by the same UEFA which instituted Champions League. If you win it, they give you a trophy. And err.. it's a trophy that we've never won. It is, in fact, the ONLY trophy we've never won. So idiots, this is NOT an opportunity for "practice sessions"; it's a serious competitive trophy that we should aim to lift in May 2012. Of course, it would be a bonus if Pogba and Ravel could play a part in helping the club achieve that goal.

The best response we can give in Europe would NOT be to back off like LOSERS and think we're too superior for Europa League. No competition is inferior in football. A trophy is a trophy. The best response would be to RUTHLESSLY CRUSH all opposing teams in Europa League. Only then would we be able to merit the saying that MANCHESTER UNITED ARE TOO GOOD FOR EUROPA LEAGUE!!

Imagine a Manchester United vs Manchester City Final in Bucharest. That alone is such a delicious prospect. Imagine the buzz it would create just around the time, should those two be the eventual finalists in Europa League.

NOT ARROGANT, JUST BETTER is a slogan we have cherished for so long now. Yet there are times that we need to reinforce it with our performances. Now is such a time. Let's not look down upon anything while we're on the down. Let's have the humility to accept the challenge facing us and let's CRUSH the teams that await us. Arrogance won't do it; humility will.

Let's NOT be like Liverpool, City or Arsenal.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Lose Games But Do Not Lose The United Way

What's with this fuckin' frenzy?

Get off to a blistering start by thrashing Arsenal 8-2 and our GBP 50 Million signings are world-beaters and get thrashed 6-1 by City and suddenly we are doomed?

Is that The United Way?

We got stifled by an exuberant AC Milan team in CL Semi-Finals a few years ago, then Barca undid us the same way in two CL Finals; even Bayern Munich got the better of us by exploiting our tactical weakness, but instead of identifying our mistakes correctly, we start indulging in conspiratorial rhetoric and the famous unison of our fans goes in utter disarray?

Is that The United Way?

We got relegated to the Europa League 'cause we couldn't deal with Basel and then if Roy Keane thrashes our young lads, what do we do? We taunt him back by pointing out his managerial record instead of reviewing the valid observations made by him for our own good. Did we see that he's pointing it out 'cause he still cares about United? Did we feel that he's probably feeling the same pain that all of us are feeling?

Is that The United Way?

With the advent of countless websites and Facebook pages, one now gets to see more than ever what so many United fans have to say about various issues related to the club. Some of those comments are downright petty, low-life and degenerate! Praying for other teams to fail, expressing jealousy over which club has signed who, abusing Fergie, saying that Berba and Owen are useless liabilities forgetting that they wear the colors that we take so much pride in - this is NONSENSE! 

This is NOT The United Way!

Manchester United has always worked hard to bring itself up; not prayed hard to bring others down. Leave that to the Liverpools and Arsenals of this world. We are Manchester United. We don't do what they do. We can't even think of doing that.

That is NOT The United Way!

The sad truth is that while we may have grown to become much bigger than just a football club by becoming the 6th biggest brand in the world, while we may have more fans that any sporting franchise in the world, while we may be consistently making huge profits in spite of a mammoth debt and while we may bug the hell out of rival fans - I don't see us winning. I see them winning!

Our true victory can never be ascertained by the number of trophies that we have won, are winning or will win in the future. By that account, Real Madrid is far ahead. Porto and Barcelona have won more domestic titles. AC Milan, Bayern Munich and even Liverpool are ahead of us in terms of the European Cups that they have won. If the number of trophies that United have won is the criteria that attracted you towards the club and you became a self-proclaimed Red Devil, then sorry to break your balls, but you just don't get what United is all about. It's about much more than silverware.

United is about largesse. United is about character. United is about class. United is about compassion. United is about honesty. United is about truth. United is about loyalty. United is about fairness. United is about improvement. United is about challenges. United is about struggle.

I take pride in the fact that we did a Treble in '99 but as a fan it was priceless moment for me when in spite of getting knocked out, Old Trafford gave a standing ovation to The Original Ronaldo for his superb hat-trick against us.

That IS The United Way!

I take pride in the fact that we knocked Liverpool off their fuckin' perch with our 19 titles, but I feel elated to be a United fan whenever we have slated one of our own lads for diving or any other underhand gimmicks.

That IS The United Way!

For the newbies who live under the illusion that our illustrious trophy cabinet is what separates us from the rest - review your analysis. It isn't that. Our traditional CLASS off the field as much as on it is what has distinguished us from the rest. We are NOT the club which would protect racist comments like Liverpool have done with Suarez. We are NOT the club which would put up with ridiculous tantrums like City have done with Tevez. We are NOT the club which would encourage perpetual divers like Chelsea have done with Drogba. We always rise above all the pettiness.

That IS The United Way!

We can cope up with losing games or silverware like we have always done in the past. Don't let yourself lose sight of the fact that The United Way should be way more precious to all of us than mere silverware. 

It's The United Way which will continue to distinguish United fans from other even hundreds of years from now. It's our most prized possession. It's our monopoly. It's our class. It's what we're all about. It's what lured me and millions like me to this club when we hadn't even won a title for more than 25 years. All fans from that era would be damned if we lose The United Way. Lost games will be won again. Championships and trophies will be recaptured. Not The United Way.

I'm a foreign fan myself and I hear loads of foreign fans whining about how they're not taken seriously as United fans. How rival fans and even Mancunians refer to them as Glory Hunters. How their passion and loyalty for the club is often brought under question. It used to bug me as well. Sadly, I don't empathize with my ilk anymore. The more I see comments from United fans which are based on an absolute lack of knowledge of the club's tradition, the more I realize why foreign United fans are not respected.

Make no mistake about it - Manchester United belongs to Manchester first and foremost. If you don't like it or if you can't deal with that, then just tough luck babies! Manchester United is a LOCAL team first and a GLOBAL team later. Manchester United is a club seeped deeply in the traditions, culture and sentiments of Manchester. That is what United fans all over the world need to take forward. That is, in fact, the beauty of this passion that millions of us share. One Club. One Tradition. One Culture. One United. We cannot have our distinct versions. These deviations are caused by the incorrect motives to follow United. These disagreements arise from a lack of knowledge about the club's history, culture and core values. 

If Wazza disrespected the club by asking for a transfer, so many of us were dying and begging for him to sign a contract. It was disgusting - it was like being a fan of Man City in the Sven era where a star player wanted to leave and the fans started squirming. Eventually, after questioning the club's ambition, Wazza had to eat humble pie and reaffirm his belief in the glory of Manchester United. Yet, what did we, the fans do to our Golden Boot winner? Look at the choicest of names so many of us have reserved for Berba and Owen. These are incredibly talented, illustrious players who wear our colors and yet some of us choose to abuse them on public forums. It's your opinion, it's your business but when you start slating lads who wear the United badge, then at least for me, you're no different to any rival fan. There is a dignified way of criticizing your own lads; it can never be outright abuse. It just shows the absolute lack of respect you have for the club. It just shows your hunger for glory and success. It just shows that we have among us, so-called fans who actually claim to support United for all the wrong reasons. It justifies rival fans and Mancunians when they call you glory hunters. So stop whining and pull up your act first.

Learn The United Way!

Lose games but DO NOT lose The United Way!!