To be honest, I’m quite missing Manchester United as “the club to beat”.
It’s like not being able to buy a packet of Eet-Som-Mor, or not being able to go down to your local pub for a late-night piss-up… oh, hold on a minute.
But seriously, a whole dimension of football and everything that goes with it has kind of died.
I mean for most of us under the age of 50 or 60, United have always been the biggest club in England, the biggest scalp to skin and the biggest fan base to go up against.
Yes, it hasn’t been non-stop… Liverpool, Manchester City, Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea have had their time over the years. But let’s be honest, the Red Devils had held the crown for decades.
Well, that’s of course until Alex Ferguson decided it was enough and passed on the joystick.
Jeez, what the hell have we been left with after a succession of inappropriate managers, alarming purchases and a seemingly rudderless board?
It hit me this afternoon as this chap from a mobile tyre fitting outfit (who was fixing my puncture) recognised me from the Daily Voice: “Ahhh the Man U love to hate, Mr Feinberg”.
OK, I’m not the most well-known (or liked) media person this side of the world, but when I do bump into people the conversation ordinarily turns to football… as it would.
But this fella was decidedly quiet on that front. Thinking about that for a minute, I said: “You’re a Man Utd supporter, aren’t you?” And of course… he was!
Somehow the situation he has found himself in relating to his club reminded me of where we’re all at today (coronavirus pandemic aside).
In the glory days of the mid-90s, Madiba walked free, Bafana Bafana won Afcon, the Boks were world champions, Brenda’s Vul’indlela, The Galaxy doubled its capacity and there was no loadshedding!
There was so much hope, such a colourful vibe, yet the rigmarole of a new democracy finding its feet along with the inglorious bastards eating at the coffers has eroded what made the time so special.
That’s much like what the Glazers and company have done at Old Trafford.
Yes, there he was, fixing my wheel, a man who (years ago) would have stuck his chest in my face and laughed at the pathetic Roman Abramovich rent boy in front of him.
But no, nothing, just a slight shrug of the shoulders, as if to say, “mate, I ain’t got anything left to banter you about”.
It was sad, because the new boys on the block, (who as we all know haven’t been part of loud football debates for decades) are out there, shirts on, proper arrogant, like their time is now and nobody better forget it.
Of course we understand, it’s the bullied kid syndrome, finding a bit of power by putting cigarettes out on a puppy.
But it just ain’t like the United superpower. Look, nor was Chelsea as the Blues dominated in the 2000s. It just feels like we’re in a moment that isn’t going to become an “era”.
On a personal note, it must be said that over the last 25 years of pushing the football boundaries in media, I never received the same kind of feedback I have since Liverpool (deservedly) became the champions they are today.
Yes I’ve argued too, but the vile language and threats that come have come from Liverpool fans over the last few months have been, let’s say, worthy of an R18 rating and a criminal investigation!
Anyway, to all of you who threaten me: “Your mother’s pug”.
Back to what’s important and a couple of tasty fixtures this weekend. Not least the Merseyside derby, which looks like it’s gonna be a proper cracker!
To Rodney and all you Toffees out there, with you heart, mind and soul this weekend!