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Either Win or Lose, But Don't Torture Me With Your Defeat

 Either Win or Lose, But Don't Torture Me With Your Defeat

It’s quite rare for Manchester United supporters to look as glum as they did on Sunday. Dimitar Berbatov missed several half chances. Antonio Valencia came close in the first half when his shot was saved by Paul Robinson. But, other than that, it was an uncharacteristic static performance from Manchester United during eight days that has seen them lose against Chelsea, knocked out of the Champions League and has now seen them lose two precious points at Ewood Park.

And it doesn’t get any easier for United from here. Next up for United is an away match against their cross-town rivals Manchester City this Saturday. And how City — and especially Carlos Tevez — would love to end United’s Premier League title aspirations at the City Of Manchester Stadium.

Being a Swansea City supporter, I sometimes wonder what it must feel like to be a Manchester United supporter. With the Swans, it has been heartache and anguish following the team from the late 70s to where they are today. There have been relegations, times when it looked like the club was going out of business, almost relegated to non-league football, but some good times mixed in now and again. But the constant theme for me with the results they have achieved is one of disappointment.

I mention this because it must be always the opposite feeling for Manchester United supporters — and supporters of any major club — in that the club has a much higher percentage of winning matches. Going into each new weekend must be a much more enjoyable experience for United supporters. Their chances of losing are pretty slim. The buzz of a win can make a person’s weekend.

But what do you do when your team loses more often than it wins? Or this season, for the Swans, they’ve won 37%, lost 23% and drawn 40% of their matches. What do you do when you know that your club will most likely win only 3.7 out of every 10 matches? And that’s a good year for the Swans.

You can imagine how a team that often disappoints manifests a defeatist attitude in the supporter. Or at least a different type of attitude going into a game that a Manchester United supporter.

So for me, in the 31 years that I’ve been a Swansea City supporter, I always want them to win. However I’m pleasantly surprised (and pleased) when they do win. But when they lose or draw, it’s often in agonizing circumstances. They’ll come so close to winning or drawing that it’ll be a late opposition goal that will throw their chance of getting three points or even one point. This has happened so many times in my history of following Swansea City. And it’s happened in promotion play-off finals, cup competitions and other critical games such as derbies.

To be completely honest, I’ve been emotionally scarred so many times by Swansea disappointing me over the years that I’ve built a perverse attitude to their games. I always want them to win, but I’d rather them lose so I can deal with it better than to have them come so agonizingly close to winning and then eventually lose. For me, that type of loss is sometimes too much to bear where it can and sometimes will ruin my weekend. I want the team to win, but if they’re going to lose, don’t torture me.

Of course, I realize that in sport that games are often decided by what happens in the last few minutes of matches. But when your team often is the one who is defeated more often by late goals, it’s a painful and depressing feeling at times.

The strange thing is that in life I am very optimistic and positive. I’m almost always smiling and don’t upset very often at all. At the same time, Swansea is having one of their best seasons in 30 years but they still continue to disappoint. They still may be able to qualify for the playoffs for a chance of promotion to the Premier League, but even if they do, their chances of success are few and far between. When it comes down to it, they draw too many matches and aren’t good enough to make it into the Premier League right now.

I write this because I wonder if there are other supporters out there like me. Or if you have similarly strange or bizarre feelings toward your team to help you cope with the horrors of disappointment. Manchester United supporters and supporters of other top clubs will most probably not understand. But for followers of teams that historically have more lows than highs, do you find yourself in the same boat?

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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8 Responses to Either Win or Lose, But Don't Torture Me With Your Defeat

  1. Trent13 says:

    I really look for City to do no worse than draw, and I expect they will defeat the devils. Adebayor and Tevez have been beasts of late.

  2. Martin says:

    As a Swan’s fan I know exactly what you mean and I have only just found your site to getting excited about the pompey underdogs!
    Great site and now part of my bookmarks!

  3. JB says:

    Gaffer, I know exactly how you feel when it comes to American sports at least. I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH, and have been a Cleveland sports fan since birth. I have religiously followed the Indians, Cavs and Browns since I was a very young child. Unfortunately I have that same attitude when it comes to Cleveland sports, but eventually you can break yourself of that mentality. I just don’t let it bother me anymore.

    It’s also why, when I happened to watch a game in London a couple years back, and Chelsea won, I looked them up and picked them as my team. It also helped that I walked by Stamford Bridge on the way to Brompton Cemetery. I was very impressed by the stadium. Being a Cleveland sports fan, I was tired of losing everything every year. I haven’t regretted it since. Maybe you need to pick a decent team from another sport.

    • The Gaffer says:

      JB, pretty much the only sport I follow religiously is soccer, so I’m stuck with Swansea City for the rest of my life. I’m not the type of bloke to change the club he supports like others out there (not directing that at you, JB).

      I’ll continue to support the Swans and will hope that they do well, but it’s not easy and it’s something that supporters of Man United don’t experience and can’t empathize with, I believe.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  4. iZy® says:

    Gaffer, i’m a Man Utd supporter, please don’t say that Man Utd supporters can’t empathize with losses because they do, not all but some (like myself) and i can tell you that it isn’t a nice feeling (really stressful/frustrating at times).

    There are times when they lose or draw matches that they should’ve won and i feel upset for the whole week or until they get a result…..it’s a shitty feeling…..But as i’m young, i could only imagine what it is/was like being a Swansea or a Man Utd supporter of old

  5. meinerfugue says:

    Well yes, supporting Swansea City and supporting Manchester United is inevitably different but United have had some bad times as well. It must be pointed out that they have weathered Munich and the 72-74 era implosion. Besides, being a bigger team sets you up for heart ache in Europe. That said, despite the fact that I am a Chelsea supporter, I have a strong fondness for Palermo and Grimsby Town. So I kinda know what you mean.

  6. arizona jack says:

    Ahh, the trials and tribulations of being a Swansea supporter…
    It’s never a quiet life following the Swans, we never seem to have an “ordinary” season and this season despite being disappointing sees us on the verge of the Premier League (only for us to blow it in the playoffs!!)

    I remember as a young teen watching us defeat the likes of Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal, Villa and thinking the rollercoaster would never stop.. 30 years later and it hasn’t!!

  7. David says:

    I don’t think I’ll get much sympathy (nor will I be looking for any) but back when Sanchez was still tormenting my Cottagers, I always expected, and often times did, lose in the most cruelest of ways. I remember in the great escape season of 07-08 that we started the season out by getting a lucky goal against Arsenal at the beginning and held onto the last 10 minutes, only to give up two goals then to lose 2-1. That trend continued throughout the remaining of Sanchez’ days in charge until the wonderful Roy came in and righted the countless number of wrongs at the club.

    The beginning of that season and the one before were not very fun, but I must say that now my mood has changed drastically. Hope the same for you as well, Gaffer.

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