The strange thing is I quite enjoyed last weekend’s game. United v Swansea at Old Trafford last Sunday felt like a pre-season friendly – something I had feared in the days leading up to it – but in the end it was nowhere near as bad as I thought. Quite simply, the pressure – the overwhelming pressure that we had all felt engulfing us over the previous 10 games – had dissipated, and for once we could enjoy a game of football without worry.
Thinking about this a bit more, I suppose you could say it was a bit like those salad days of youth, when the school year was drawing to a close, summer was beaming down on us and the teachers just gave up. At primary school we used to bring in board games, which was a daft move because whoever did would find they went home with half the game pieces or a third of the ‘Community Chest’ cards gone, lost forever behind rusted radiators. At secondary school the teachers used to bring in videos, except that wasn’t much use either as the lessons were one hour long, so after the teacher had spent 20 minutes arsing around with the VCR (ask your parents, kids) we would get to see the first 35 minutes of ‘The Sting’ before being ushered off to the next classroom fully equipped with a television on wheels. Despite the despairing teachers and the shitty VCRs however, those days were carefree. Running around the playing field in my United shirt and jeans – a rare treat not least because my school uniform was brown and yellow – I was relaxed, content and happy. At least I was until some twat turned up with a super soaker that he’d filled up in the home economics classroom and pretended that he was Bruce Willis in the ‘Die Hard’ films.
I digress. Last Sunday’s game was fun, though, and it helped that Swansea are a good footballing side in their own right. Give them credit – as much as I hate the Welsh (I’m typing that whilst waving at a few people I know will be reading this) – Swansea have done their country proud and hopefully they can continue their open and enjoyable style of play next season.
So we won 2-0, with goals from….oh God, I’m getting old. Goals from….Scholes! And…someone. This is how bad my memory is nowadays, folks. I can tell you the 1994 matchday squad:
Schmeichel, Parker, Pallister, Irwin, Bruce, Sharpe, Ince, Hughes, McClair, Keane, Cantona, Robson, Kanchelskis, Giggs
… with thanks to Status Quo, but I can’t remember what happened last week, a slight problem when writing a column of this nature. Oh, it was Ashley Young? I don’t remember the goal, but I do recall Martin Tyler’s laughable attempts at trying to stir up some drama at a time when there clearly wasn’t going to be any:
“United have scored! Only the SEVEN more goals needed to make this a NAILBITING final day in the Barclays Premier League!”
I’m paraphrasing, but his enthusiasm for us to score at least 5 and give the media false hope for “a story” was simultaneously annoying and endearing. Truth is, we know it’s gone. I read on Twitter yesterday someone saying that they were “nervous” about tomorrow. Fuck that. I’m nearly ALWAYS nervous before a United game, but not tomorrow. There’s more chance of me sharing a bed with Kelly Brook than QPR getting anything at city. My prediction is that Stoke will score against Bolton and go 1-0 up, meaning it will be unlikely that Bolton get anything more than a draw there. Knowing that they’ll be safe regardless of their own result – providing Bolton don’t win – QPR will sack it off, stay up and there will be one big party at the Etihad.
All we can do is put in a good performance, try and win the game and then look ahead to next season. I’m secretly hoping there will be a clear-out at OT this summer, truth be told. There’s a few there who aren’t doing it anymore or perhaps need to be told it’s time to bow out gracefully, regardless of whether we finish 2nd or the unthinkable does indeed happen. Look to the future please, Sir Alex. Because that’s the thing about time – it just keeps on going – and underneath the euphoria of the last days of term-time you always knew that “back to school” would creep up on you faster than you wanted it to.
United will be back – in more ways than one.