It’s the 10th April, 2016.
The once global powerhouse of football, Manchester United, have made the trip to White Hart Lane to face a club once referred to as “it’s only Spurs!”.
United are under the watchful eye of Louis Van Gaal, having turned from a once exciting, attacking side, to a turgid, bland, dreadful to watch team of possession and aimless crossing.
A United match day squad which consisted of such talents as Fosu-Mensah, Darmian, Schneiderlin, Depay, Lingard, hardly names that struck fear in the hearts of any opponents, trudged to a lacklustre and gutless 3-0 defeat to the hands of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
A 10 minute flurry of goals saw yet another embarrassing, spineless display by the men in red, the once most feared team in the land, limp and whimper to the final whistle.
There was a time, in fact over 2 decades, that opposition fans, players, coaching staff, turned up to the fixture they all looked forward to, already defeated. The fear factor, the talent, the ruthlessness, it all contributed to a well oiled machine that would force you into submission be it before, or slightly after, the 90th minute, with a never say die attitude that was the envy of the world over.
It’s the 16th of December, 2018.
United take on one of their fiercest rivals in the red side of Merseyside.
Regardless how either side is performing, regardless the stats or the league tables, this game is one that both sides turn up for, hammer and tongs, relentless rivalry and hatred between both players and fans.
Well, it was that way…one time.
United rolled over in a display that will long linger in disgust in many a fans mind.
Outplayed, out battled, out manoeuvred at every juncture, a 90 minutes which saw the Scousers hand us our arse, 3 goals to our rather lucky 1, a gift from an Allison mistake.
2 shots on target, 35% possession in a true Jose Mourinho showing of shit.
The heads hung low, the camels back broken with this final straw, Jose had to go.
Fans begging for attacking, enjoyable football, something so starved for years under Moyes (a tenure undeserving a paragraph), Van Gaal and Mourinho.
“I don’t care about trophies, I want to be entertained, anything is better than this!” – an often thrown about comment.
Fast forward to present day.
Under the managerial ups and downs of club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, United are currently floating in and around the top 4, in 2nd place spot and, heaven forbid, a potential title challenge.
By no means a smooth process (this word pains me since LVG’s time), by no means a swashbuckling superstar club side, by no means a replica of the famed Treble-winning side.
We may have gone out of the Champions League in the group stage, after making a bit of a balls of it (anyone remember Midgetland, Sevilla? It’s not something new), but when in the past such things have occurred we have gone on to flatten out and falter, we have stood up and shown a bit of bottle and character.
Our away form is up there with record equalling statistics, amazingly as the majority of the wins have come from being a goal behind!
Our home form, a stain on the season’s progress so far, but maybe it’s starting to turn around after a very enjoyable battering of old enemy Leeds United recently.
The biggest difference, however, is it is entertaining.
Nobody can accuse United of being boring to watch these days.
A side with Bruno Fernandes firing in goals and assists for fun.
A fast paced, counter attacking style, which is devastating at times.
It’s enjoyable to watch!
Even the eternally glum fans, who try to resist any form of happiness while we are under the leadership of a PE Teacher, are starting to crack a smile at some of the football being played.
Maybe not so much defensively, as we can be liable to shoot ourselves in the foot repeatedly (see Leicester City, boxing day) but certainly going forward.
The addition of the BashyMc instant classic “GIVE IT GIVE IT GIVE IT TO EDI CAVAAAAANI” shows there is a sense of fun amongst the fanbase again, that maybe all isn’t as bad as it has been for so long.
Dare I say it, are the fans starting to enjoy themselves again?
I know I am.
Gone are the days knowing Van Gaal’s United will try putting 81 crosses into the box to an imposing striker we don’t have, or Jose’s shithouse 1-0 tactic’s.
It may not be perfect, it may not yield trophies (although we’re quite adept at making semi finals) and it may not even work out long term.
But for now, try and just enjoy it, take it for what it is and enjoy the attacking football, the potential for it to end 3-2 just as quick as 1-0.
“I just want to be entertained” we heard you say for years.
Are you not?