Global view: American perspective on the Manchester derby

Journalists from the official Manchester United website canvassed supporters’ clubs around the world for their thoughts ahead of Monday’s Manchester derby. As a representative of One United USA, Kyle Diller writes for SN from time to time. Below are his full answers.

What does the Manchester derby mean to you?

It quite obviously means a lot. What Manchester United supporter doesn’t feel that way? I didn’t grow up in Manchester, so I wasn’t exposed to the atmosphere in Manchester surrounding the derby, but you still recognize from abroad how much it means. I have always been dedicated to learning about the club and its history, a big part of which is obviously the rivalry with Manchester City. When you develop that true, deeply-rooted passion for the club, it becomes part of you identity, and you naturally begin to oppose what you perceive as a rival. They hate us, we hate them. It’s extremely tribal, but that’s the climate of the game these days. It certainly fuels the excitement of these big matches. These are the moments that supporting this club are all about.

If it’s important to you, is that due to City’s recent rise? Or have you always felt that way?

I’ve felt that way for as long as I can remember, but I also had a rather unique experience with the noisy neighbors that helped fuel the rivalry before their recent rise. My first year of university, I was randomly assigned a roommate who happened to be a Manchester City fan. And that was in 2007 before all of the money. City fans were still quite rare in the United States back then, so I couldn’t believe my awful luck. We ended up being good friends, but some of his City propaganda was intolerable. Even worse, we lost to them twice that season. Never hearing the end of that just makes you spiteful toward not only him, but all Manchester City fans. Since that season, there’s been an added level of satisfaction when we beat them. Just a quick note, our year living together ended on the high note for United with a European double, so…

Which is your favourite derby moment of all time? (We can guess your least favourite…)

This is a tough one. I wanted to pick an amazing retro derby moment, but with the rising importance of the Manchester derby recently, all of the memorable moments are still pretty fresh. It may be the most recent memory, but it has to be Robin van Persie’s late winner at the Etihad in December. Being the first time we faced City since last season’s heartbreak, I think everyone wanted revenge… and we got it. When his goal went in, I was just lost in so much raw emotion. In that moment, so many of last season’s demons were exorcised. That feeling was one of the best I’ve had in over a decade of supporting the club.

It was just such a special moment. To be honest, I’m still not sure my girlfriend has forgiven me for celebrating the way I did. I may have embarrassed her a bit with my adrenaline-fueled outburst. Or maybe it was because she’s an Arsenal supporter. Oh well. To top it all off, it came three days after my birthday, making it the perfect gift as well. One of the best.

Where and with whom will you be watching Monday’s match? And what time is kick-off in your part of the world?

I’ve still not completely decided. The game kicks off at 1:45pm on a Monday, but my boss is out of town that day, so I might sneak out for a few hours to “work remotely” while the match is on. Then again, I work for an agency called Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing. Suffices to say, we get a bit of leniency when our club is playing a big match anyway.

There’s a pub a few blocks from my office that pulls a good crowd, or I might head into Chicago to watch with the United supporters branch down there. They get upwards of 50 people, many of whom are ex-pats, crammed into a small pub for these big matches and the experience is as good as it gets abroad.

Are there any City fans in your vicinity or is your town totally Red?

There’s certainly more than there were three years ago! Their recent success has definitely endeared them to a new generation of fans in the United States. They’re still significantly outnumbered in comparison to Manchester United, but they’re growing. From my experiences in Chicago pubs, it’s still probably 10 United fans to every City fan. So it’s not completely Red, but extremely close.

On a humorous note, I have a lot of friends who aren’t really interested in the game, but claim to support City now just to antagonize me after last season. So to my own misfortune their numbers have grown in that fashion as well.

Finally, what’s your prediction for Monday’s match in terms of the final score and the goalscorers?

I always feel like I’m going to jinx it. We’ve hit a slight dip in form and there’s not as much pressure on us going into this Manchester derby. Without wanting to jinx it, the Premier League title is within sight. There’s substantially more pressure on them this time around.

And now I’m going to go against everything I just said; I have to go for a 2-1 United win. It’ll be close, but I still don’t think our players are done with their revenge after last season. Robin van Persie to break his goalscoring drought with a brace. Mathematically, the title would still be alive, but to realistically kill it off in such fashion would be the perfect way to close out the season. Hopefully I’m not being too optimistic!

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