Something For The Weekend (137)
I had another titanic struggle with my Manchester United neurosis this week and lost: it gave me that sinking feeling (geddit?).
By the time Rooney had scored the dramatic late winner against Milan, I definitely knew I had been had - the president of the immortals had been toying with me again. And there was joy and confirmation that justice does exist, snatched from my grasp at the last moment, just when a satisfying smile was beginning to warm the cockles of my heart (what ever they are). The joke was definitely on me and I felt such a fool and such flipping loser.
Some things are too revealing and my United neurosis reveals my life view in glaring Technicolor. Just as my tendency to turn into a raging table-thumping madman, when I even think about injustices to the poor (my tribe) - the Highland clearances, the Peterloo massacre, the potato famine, the price of match tickets etc - my sense of persecution and paranoia is unmasked.
Its something I am supposed to be working on.
Its no good and it ruined what was a superb game of football, only spoilt by the presentation. The assumption that in our ethnically diverse nation, that everyone wants Man United to win, is false. I know that most of our recent influx of Guestarbeiters, are probably working their 18 hour shifts for a pound an hour (Panorama), when these things are on the telly but a bit of neutrality would not go amiss.
The commentary had been nauseating, as the suck-arses drizzled their sycophantic shite in the audience's ear, about how Ronaldo is now the best of the best etc etc, and then Kaka had shown what perfect, precise, goal-scoring technique is all about (Villa strikers take note). But then just when Milan looked as though they had done enough to silence the toadying bastards forever, everything started to go wrong.
United aren't blameless and saying bad things about them does invite the punishment of exclusion (no more freebie prawn sarnies for you my friend) but I really do wish the media didn't crawl up their arse at every opportunity. Its a mixture of abject arse-sucking on the part of the those disgusting turds in the media and what the psychobabbleists call the halo-effect - virtue in one area (football excellence), unreasonably translated into virtue into all others (sporting behaviour).
This victory and it was a fantastic fight back and a marvellous goal, came rather too soon after the referee had been stricken with Old Trafford blindness, when refusing Middlesbrough a stonewall penalty, a few days previously, for me to muster the tiniest bit of stoicism, especially as the BBC (Adrian Chiles and his new mates) had provided the perfect dove-tail to this piece of injustice, by glossing over John Terry's claim for a penalty, when his having a Newcastle player hanging off his neck at every set-play, was dismissed as him actually inviting that sort of homo-erotic attention. (And Gavin Peacock the Christian and all - the cock it crew)
My attitude towards United suffers from what I call the Princess Diana syndrome - the belief that if she/they can't actually be as virtuous as the media insist, then she/they must be therefore oppositely and proportionately bad.
One extreme begets another.
The worst thing, is that hating them is not only negative, it is counterproductive. Making it a personal mission to be NOT like United, is a mission statement heading towards failure. Villa need to be like a winning club, be it United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal. And being a winning club will attract jealousy, dislike, and hatred even. Just as the moral force of an Old Trafford crowd can render a referee and his assistants blind, so a Villa Park crowd can do the same. A successful Villa will be subject to the same natural laws - the natural reflex by all individuals and institutions (refs and commentators) to wish to serve the bigger entity.
To hate United for their privilege, is to hate the Villa of the future. We have no vested-interest in changing these natural laws and it really is a bit daft for me to demand otherwise.
For me this will require a quantum leap into a positive new orbit.
But I still think I will only watch United on the telly, with the sound off AND when I yearn for justice, I can always think of Yordan Lechkov's wonderful headed goal against another of my footballing bete noirs.
Aaah, what a sweet thought.
Another rather sour thought amongst the many listed above, was, that if David James had not dropped the ball at Wembley in 2000, which gifted Chelsea their winner, he would not have arrived at Villa Park on Saturday trying to break the record for career clean-sheets - he'd have done it elsewhere. What a strange thing fate is and even if Villa's strikers had been rather more Kaka than cack, it seemed destined to happen.
It was rather sad to hear that Alan Ball died this week. I think it was he who convinced me that I would never be a footballer. I can remember seeing him warm-up for Southampton (I think) and he was doing a bit of keepy-uppy, right in front of where I sat at Villa Park. I couldn't help but notice how the ball fell perfectly to his small instep, every time, without any effort at all, while my own efforts always consisted of me chasing the ball round the field, like a man spinning plates. He was really a wonderful player and I can remember what a wonderful World Cup he had in '66 and so very young. Such natural skill, such passion and such maturity. What a player he was.
And you know something - he never played for United either.
By Steve Wade