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Jaded by United’s success

Business of winning

Paul Flynn
Red Devil

JADED – synonyms: tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of a good thing. Next to this worthy dictionary entry ought to be a photograph of yours truly slumped in front of the telly; a paunchy sphinx, flanked by my two cats: Scholesey (ginger, lethargic and pendulous of belly) and Giggsy (grey-flecked, sleek and Tiernaur’s biggest nocturnal superstar: I mean, a real goer); all three of us lazily watching this present United side Abbott and Costello their way to victory over cowed or cautious opponents.
United stand five points clear at the top of the table and have reached the fifth round of the FA Cup and are poised to meet Real Madrid in the last 16 of the big one. Yet can you recall a single game this season when we really had some fun with the ball or been in a real slugging-match?
They are playing way too much within themselves, not that their best would make Barcelona or even Braga blink. Where is the heady mix of charisma and catastrophe with which United have built their history?  I reckon sometime soon, somebody’s going to notice that our midfield has all the resolve of a French general who’s just mislaid his lucky rubber duck. Please don’t let it be Manchester City. It’s going to be Manchester City.
United have three players per game who put in a good shift and two of them are Robin van Persie. Expect February to be interesting but don’t plan to be knocking around north London come May.
Honestly, Gaelic football is beginning to look more attractive; the webbed-fingers, the maniacal gurning, the chin-dribbling, the Herculean nihilism notwithstanding. But the lads who play it, love it. That’s admirable. In our game, the business of winning is killing the joy of playing, and this fundamental negative has sank into our innards like a prawn-flavoured barium meal. Underdogs are lying down and the chasing pack don’t give full chase anymore.
Whatever happened to the idea of football as a means of expression? Something recreational, innately noble, rather than as a means of selling insurance or crappy American beer. Many fans are now fixating on financial tables, the role of agents and the addled musings of players and supporters, rather than the health of the game.
The skills and values which took football all over the globe are an afterthought. Infantile internet abuse is now ‘banter’. The dead are mocked.  But the real canker is the fixation with wealth within the game. The knowledge that the chasm between the top three and the other top clubs discourages prospective buys from joining them is hampering Liverpool and Everton, even Arsenal. And the league is the poorer for that.
Chelsea’s financial muscle keeps them in the hunt despite their club having the PR instincts of Mitt Romney and the team spirit of the Khmer Rouge. The infantile baiting of their own manager underscores their craven attitude to their Bond villain owner. It is he they really hate, but if they voice it, he’ll do one and they’ll go back to being a Soho Bouncers’ XI: Millwall with fancier pies.
Toffs in top hats and ashkatran coats have long been scooping the working man’s shilling into their saddlebags, but nowadays, these parasites have websites. A craven, giddy-with-self-importance media can elevate the snide antics of a ball-boy into breaking news, when a swift kick up the arse would have sufficed.
Did previous generations of supporters carry on like such biffs? I know I’m floundering in nostalgia and the point I make chokes amid reeds of hyperbole, but I maintain that this obsession with money’s role in the game is draining football of its essential appeal. Just a thought. Enjoy your football. This article has been sponsored by Flynn’s Patent Cat-Nip. I use it, Scholsey uses it.