The need to believe

Manchester United

I watched the Manchester City and Manchester United game this morning in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Being a long time Manchester United supporter, obviously I was rooting for the visitors and was overjoyed when Rooney put them ahead with a very nicely headed goal.
I was a little surprised to see the red card come out on Kompany who I think is one of the best center backs in the business. The decision was a little harsh but none the less, United got on with the game and at half-time were winning 3-0 and deservedly so.

Second half was a whole different story and in the end, United ran out 3-2 winners. I believe that with a full squad, City would probably have won.

Anyway, why I am writing about this has nothing to do with this game but about how we as human beings react when we watch the teams of our choice. I am fortunate that I usually watch alone if you don’t count three dachshunds and maybe one of the cats. Those animals between them have been subject to and have probably learned all of the foul-mouthed vocabulary that I can think of every time I watch United play.

As a team this season, they have been so frustrating to watch playing oh so good and then oh so bloody bad (there I go again) enough to send my emotions every which way.

This got me wondering what is it about us humans for having the need to support one particular team when in my case, there are many to choose from. I can see if there is a birthright connection like being born in a certain city or watching a team as you grow up. None of these applied to me and yet, I have supported Man U for as long as I can remember even when I was living in England. The closest professional team to me was Brighton and Hove Albion and back in those days, you had to be a bit of a fanatic or live close to the ground to support them as they were never very good. And yet, my team was Man U which was several hundred miles from me and it didn’t hurt that they were very good and have been for the past twenty-five years.

Like a true supporter, I fussed and worried before the game today speculating on how poorly the team has played losing their last two league games. I was planning on getting up early but in the end decided that as United were going to lose, got up at the usual time and even had a leisurely breakfast and read the paper before turning on the recorded game. In my mind, I was delaying the inevitable by leaving it as long as possible before watching as United were in for a fight and I didn’t really believe that they had it in them. Not this season, anyway and to watch them lose, would spoil my whole day as it has so many days in the past. I wonder why I get like that. It’s just a game and I don’t stand to gain or lose anything except emotionally. Maybe it because we humans have the need to believe in something and a football team makes up for not having other things to believe in.

I coach a U11 Boys team and they all know which team I support. I notice that several of them are now wearing Man U shirts or have Man U balls. Maybe that’s how it’s passed on.

I guess that I am not a die-hard United supporter. I only have one United shirt and it is an old one. I prefer my own company when I watch the games as I don’t want to hear other people’s opinions on how well or poorly they played. One of my coaching friends is a Chelsea supporter and he suffers the same symptoms as I do every time that Chelsea plays. He calls me and we discuss the outcomes of the days games. He can’t explain it either why he feels as he does about his team.

We both have a coaching friend who is a Liverpool supporter. The less we say about that, the better…