Grudging admiration for rivals’ success

WATCHING ON: Alan Pardew, above Mike Ashley

WATCHING ON: Alan Pardew, above Mike Ashley

First published in Sport

I’M NOT the biggest fan of Manchester United. We have history.

One of the first football matches I saw on TV was the 1985 FA Cup final, with a choice between red or blue I chose blue. My choice was justified when “that naughty man in red”

(Kevin Moran, I later discovered) was sent-off, but then my team lost.

I lived in Crystal Palace during the 1990 FA Cup final; witnessed Beckham’s goal from the half-way line from just behind him – I’m convinced I was the only one who didn’t applaud, perhaps due to the team he was playing for, the celebration or, less likely at the time, feeling the keeper, Neil Sullivan, should have saved it.

Sullivan’s next match I was also in attendance for. It saw him concede two goals but I was more pleased as it was Alan Shearer’s home debut for us.

There have been many other occasions when The Red Devils have left me disappointed, with the odd occasion where we have come away with victory, but these have been rare.

Semi-finals, finals, home and away games; I really do not look forward to seeing them.

I, like many of Newcastle United’s faithful, am always are up for the game, hoping and praying that we might win, with the underlying realistic fear we’ll get soundly beaten. There will never be a repeat of the 5-0!

Let’s be honest, I, like many football supporters, am jealous of Manchester United, perhaps not for the majority of this season, but what would we give for one of their trophies?

The problem this season is that tomorrow’s opposition are very predictable.

Many teams have got something out of them and that is why, unless they win it this year, they won’t qualify for the Champions League, unthinkable under their previous manager!

All this and I haven’t mentioned Southampton, I hear you say. Not much to say apart from excuses, and that would be clutching at straws.

Soundly beaten by four excellent goals after a fantastic goalkeeping display by Rob Elliot in the first half, we weren’t good enough. It is no wonder that many of the current England squad have links with the Saints’ academy, like our club used to have in the 80s and 90s – something to aim for in a season where are aim was noticably lost last week.

Roll on Manchester United.

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