I was sat in my local innocently watching the Manchester United against Arsenal match on Sunday, and whilst I felt a little short changed by the entertainment on show, I was much more annoyed by the stereotypical Manchester United fans that were stood behind me. Anyone who reads my articles often will realise I enjoy promoting an anti-United opinion, and they were a cocktail of everything I see wrong with the modern day football fan.
A two nil home victory was pretty much in the bag and United had outplayed Arsenal thoroughly, even if they hadn’t demonstrated this on the scoreboard. Suddenly, from out of the blue, a subdued Old Trafford was treated to a marvellous curling effort from Santi Cazorla to make it 2-1 with the final kick of the match.
Whilst a tut of disapproval would have been appropriate for a mere inconvenience, two United fans behind me went absolutely berserk, throwing several expletives at the television as if United had actually lost not just the game, but the Champions League final. Was this really necessary?
It may seem as if I’m being a little pedantic, and maybe I am, considering these fans had probably had a few pints by the time the match finished at 2:30 I should have expected a dramatic response, but overhearing some of their conversations during the game also made me wonder if they truly were quite the footballing experts they obviously thought.
Throughout the game, they must have gone through every Man United player and slagged them off, even a world class player such as Wayne Rooney couldn’t avoid this treatment (although I must admit his penalty was rather poor). Antonio Valencia was labelled ‘bloody sh*t’ because he got tackled once by Andre Santos (despite skinning him at least twenty times previously).
This was fairly tame compared to some of the farfetched opinions they expressed. On the topic of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they suggested (with not a single hint of sarcasm) that they probably score astronomical amounts of goals because of the ‘hotter weather in Spain’. Explanations on a postcard please Gentlemen.
Rather than ramble on about these two halfwits for the entire article (which I could easily do, believe me) I thought I’d devise a guide to being a modern day football fan, in the mould of these two model professionals I witnessed at the weekend. I presume that all you superfans each own a replica shirt that is worn to every game without fail (because they look really good, honest); scoff down a steak and kidney religiously regardless of your BMI and also confidently express how you’d do a much better job than Roberto Martinez (or equivalent) despite him being a professional who is paid a lot of money for what they do (more than you earn in a decade every month). So here’s the final touches you’re in need of.
1. Never mind who you support, the referee’s always biased against you.
This ideology is fairly straight forward, but still a vital one to adopt for a superfan. Sweeping generalisations in general are key, when making judgements on referees, the good decisions they’ve ever made or generous ones in your team’s favour must be ignored at every possible opportunity. However, if they make one questionable decision, they must be thrown into the hypothetical bin of useless referees. These referees are clearly biased, and have purposefully made a decision to annoy your team. For extra super fan points, a statement questioning the referee’s sexuality and a declaration that the opposition’s manager has paid a lot of money for his generosity could be thrown in there too upon this occurrence.
2. A team scapegoat must be elected, and he must face the abuse of every fan for every mistake everyone else makes.
I’m sure you Wigan fans are fairly familiar with this concept. When the team faces a spell of adversity where results are disappointing, or even a whole season of underachievement (compared to superfan aspirations anyway) a scapegoat must be appointed. The criteria for such a player include a player who gives the ball away occasionally; plays short corners; provides possible signs that indicate that he’s lazy, even if it means him not sprinting the length of the pitch to celebrate a goal when he’s injured; and finally (and often most important) a player who’s got ‘girly’ hair (an alice band usually makes him a dead cert for this role). Whilst I may have just described Jordi Gomez quite well there (Wigan’s chosen one for this role for the past three seasons), players such as Gary Teale, Ben Watson and Jason Scotland also meet some of the criteria, and they were correctly allocated the role of scapegoat (in the eyes of a superfan) until they left the club. Simple.
3. You must attend every match, home and away, and use this to exert authority over non-superfans.
This is a defining attribute of a superfan. You must lead a life which is not dictated by free will or spontaneity, but one which is led by a fixture list. This makes your footballing opinion much more valid than those that don’t follow this rule, those farfetched trips to Watford, Middlesborough and Plymouth mean your footballing knowledge is now nothing short of perfect.
4. You must shout at televisions at every available opportunity.
If, for whatever reason, you miss a game then you can achieve the next best alternative of watching the game in the pub. However, this is only acceptable if you chant, swear and boo at the television. The recipient of any abuse you shout will be made aware of this and you will be making a substantial difference to the outcome of the match, invariably for the best. This is strictly a footballing based rule though, shouting at the television during an episode of the X-Factor is understandable, but still a little psychotic.
5. You must hate more than you love.
Lets be honest, affections are rather feminine, and superfans are invariably the bastions of masculinity. Hatred is a emotion of real men, not like those softies that support a game with an egg ball. In response to your team scoring, your initial thoughts shouldn’t be “Get in, we’ve scored” it should be “F**k you Bolton/West Ham/Blackburn!”
If you already follow these rules then I applaud you on being the most insufferable person alive. To top it off, you could always add in the optional extras of having the club’s badge tattooed on you and constantly rattling on about how ‘things were better in my day’.