The monotony of a college student – class, write, eat, be with the bird. A cycle that seems to never end and with no immediate end result in sight could become quite disheartening, but not for me. I’ve got Manchester United. Separated by the North Atlantic Ocean and a route that MapQuest cannot fully comprehend, I’ve been separated from my first love for nearly 22 years.
This relationship is like no other – one full of happiness and loads of money, except she never seems to pay me, but that’s neither here nor there. Since the early stages of my football career, I immediately fell in love with a golden generation of players: David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Andy Cole to name a few. Having been only 6-years-old at the time, seeing the damn Gunners overcome United during my first years of true understanding of football, fire immediately burned in my soul.
“Barnsley? We lost?” Simplistic thoughts from a 6-year-old as I recount the loss in the FA Cup, or that gutting defeat to AS Monaco in the Champions League. From a red perspective, I guess I grew up in my inaugural season believing United would get it done and told my father “next year” was their year.
Too bad my father did not put money down on his foolish and pompous son who quite literally predicted the future – the fabled treble. Although I refuse to take any credit, Sir Alex still owes me a letter thanking me, but luckily I let it slide.
And despite the 13 Premier League crowns and numerous other accolades United have picked up during my entire lifetime, I haven’t once felt a sense of entitlement. Often in today’s world, the younger generation becomes spoiled with money and success – and for one, I have neither thus far.
As I support myself through college, working insane hours (up at 4:00am writing this) and a two years worth of resume material in my field of journalism, I’m very much like the new era of Manchester United. I’m full of potential and promise, but I comprehend I must work to create my own name, and own legacy.
Life’s all about choices and from what I view – Manchester United have made plenty of those. Ferguson brought in Ronaldo, he bought the “White Pele”, and even gave us the man so nice they named him twice, in Djemba-Djemba. Through numerous signings and blockbuster deals, I always anxiously awaited the call from Fergie to bring me to Old Trafford. Lofty dreams of a youngster who all wanted their five minutes to speak with the Scot, but I’ve been primed and ready to appear at Old Trafford and cheer until my lungs give way.
6 a.m. alarms for Premier League matches, and even a few pints to myself as no true United supporters were in sight – I’ve grown accustomed to the long-distance relationship United and I have. But that – is only temporary. Distance can only separate me from my beloved for so long, and say what you’d like about me being a Yank, but Manchester United is in my blood. Old Trafford is my home, Ferguson my mentor, while Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, and Paul Scholes have been the glue that’s kept us all together.
Understandably, I get knocked down the totem pole for not being in attendance on match day, but my spirit is there. Just as those in attendance, I cringe when Scholes lunged into a tackle, or that time Danny Welbeck missed the target.
In the grand scheme of Manchester United, brilliant or not, I love the club, and United loves me back. We’ve rejoiced together watching John Terry fall during spot kicks in the Champions League final, and we’ve hung our heads together as Fergie said good-bye.
The script for United and I will be ever-lasting. A play chalk-full of turmoil, nights on the town, and solidarity in my dorm room. “It’s just a soccer match” my roommate would explain. My blood would immediately boil.
Try telling a United supporter it’s just a match after Nani’s sending off cost us a chance at European glory. Nevertheless, with passion and love beyond repair – for now, I’ll gaze upon the one who stole my heart from afar. Yet, distance will not deter me.