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?