Supporting Manchester United as an Australian has been a difficult practice of late, given the club’s downward spiral after Sir Alex Ferguson retired after 27 years at the helm.
David Moyes infamously replaced the legendary Scot, and that is when the United shambles began.
Like in England and many other parts of the world, non-United supporters took this moment as the perfect opportunity to have a laugh at United, because of course they had no reason to laugh in the 27 years prior.
At the moment under Louis van Gaal’s tutelage, things seem to be getting better, but United is still a constant source of humor for most football fans.
In Australia, I would argue that we are ‘Big 4’ supporters, with a smattering of football fans following the smaller Premier League clubs. United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool are by far the most heavily supported clubs, with Liverpool and United in particularly outdoing the other two.
Last year, both sides visited Australia in their pre-season tours for a friendly game, with United selling out the Olympic stadium in Sydney, and Liverpool doing the same with the 100,000 capacity MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) in Melbourne, which some argue is the greatest sporting stadium in the world.
Clearly the Red Devils have a massive following in Australia, and indeed around the world, and it is not at all surprising to see United shirts on the streets, or in the shopping centres or even at the local A-League. United have built a brand that is synonymous around the world, and in Australia it’s no exception.
All the matches here are broadcast live, with the only downside being the matches are played at early hours in the morning – 2am and 4.30am kick-off times are a strain! We get the live stream directly from the United Kingdom’s Sky Sports coverage, which makes for excellent coverage of the Premier League.
Our local professional league here in Australia, the A-League, remains in its infancy, but the game is certainly growing.
The league is in its 10th year this year, with it coming in after the old National Soccer League competition was re-shaped into a more professional football league.
Club support varies between different cities, although the passion for Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory is something to behold.
However, the love for the Premier League, especially United, is undeniable.
Most young kids who play football or who are interested in football follow United simply because they have been brought up in an era where they won everything.
They boasted the likes of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and now Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie are the names that appear on the back of jerseys in the streets of Australia.
Manchester United are an obsession for football fans in Australia, and while they are going through a transitional phase with less silverware than they are used to, they will forever be a world football superpower and hold a stranglehold on the Australian market.
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