Archive for the ‘football’ Category

Like everyone else, I’ve been thinking a lot about the EU referendum outcome and what it all means. I went on holiday immediately after the result so there is a distinctively Italian flavour to my ruminations, as you’ll see. To me, the result is best explained in terms of “outsiders looking in to someone else’s party”. I explain this further below, drawing (of course) on a mediaeval horse race and the 1990 World Cup to build my argument. Read on.


First things first: I’m neutral (or a neutral, if you prefer to characterise not supporting either side of the Old Firm as a state of being). I have no religion, no relevant cultural attachments and no regular spot at the bar of a Rangers or Celtic pub. If you cut me, I bleed the red of Manchester United’s flag.

But the Old Firm derby was always my favourite football match.

Well, I say ‘football match’, but it’s not really a football match at all, is it? It’s something far more glorious and far more terrible; something far more thrilling and far more gruelling.

My partner and I moved into our new flat this weekend. It’s round the corner from Hampden Park, where Celtic played Rangers on Sunday afternoon, so the traditional Old Firm sirens and songs were our soundtrack. And it was glorious, and terrible, and thrilling, and gruelling. A football match, but at the same time something else entirely. But it didn’t feel like it used to.


At the risk of alienating most readers with my first sentence, I must begin by stating this: I am a Manchester United supporter.

I have supported United for as long as I’ve loved football, which dates back to the moment they embarked on a twenty-year period of unbroken success.

And then, eighteen months ago, and almost overnight, they became rubbish.

In this post I want to explore the strange phenomenon of United’s sudden decline, and the way I have experienced it as a fan. Specifically, I want to describe something unexpected that has happened to me: I think I might enjoy watching United more now than I did when they were good.


Introduction: the necessity of antifútbol

We can’t all be handsome, or cool, or stylish, or sexy.

And football teams can’t all be Brasil ’82, or Guardiola’s FC Barcelona, or Ajax ’73, or France ’86.

And if, like me, you are none of the above, then sometimes, to get through the day, there’s no option but to dabble in darker arts. To be sneaky, cynical, fiendish, clever : to know, as Machiavelli put it, when not to be good.

Nothing illegal, I should stress. There’s no need for any of that. But as human brings we deploy the resources we have to hand in order to pursue our goals, and we all have different resources. And football teams are no different. (more…)