When Manchester United ended Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten run in October 2004, winning 2-0, I was beside myself with happiness. The hatred really was at its peak back then and seeing United upset them so much, that their players even resorted to petulantly throwing pizza in the tunnel, was just fantastic. I couldn’t stand Arsenal and knowing that avoiding defeat against us would have taken them to 50 games was fairly unbearable. So the fact that they were wearing ’50 not out’ t-shirts underneath their jerseys made the victory all the more sweeter.
The following day I bought a paper but couldn’t believe the match report. Instead of hailing United for an impressive win, having started the day seventh in the table, while Arsenal were top, there was the notion that Arsenal had been robbed, that they had been cheated out of the three points they deserved, that the result wasn’t a fair one.
Truth be told, United had been fortunate to win a penalty for a Wayne Rooney dive against Sol Campbell, who inexplicably chose to stick his leg out across Rooney but got nothing on the ball, or the man. Ruud van Nistelrooy scored to put United 1-0 up, celebrating wildly after missing in the last minute against them the season before.
There was next to no mention in the press of the fact Cristiano Ronaldo should have been awarded a penalty moments later though, when Ashley Cole brought him down in the area. Nothing was given.
United then went on to score a second goal, this time Rooney, after Alan Smith set him up perfectly. United won the game 2-0, with 48% possession to Arsenal’s 52%, with five shots on target to Arsenal’s one. For all the talk of Phil Neville bullying Reyes, Arsenal made more tackles during that game, and committed more fouls.
Arsenal weren’t used to losing, and the journalists who fawned over them were used to seeing it, so what was actually a fantastic and well deserved result for United was re-written in the history books, or the papers at least.
This was before the days of Twitter or Facebook to vent, so football forums were the place to find football fans, of the same team and opposing, to talk and argue with. With the press starting to increasingly give United a kicking, something I reflected on in more detail when United won the league in 2007, and with my comments on message boards getting longer and longer, I decided to have a go at “blogging”, not entirely sure what it was.
That, essentially, is how The Republik of Mancunia began. My very first post was on March 5th 2006, where I talked about Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to keep Louis Saha in the team ahead of Van Nistelrooy for the League Cup final, which United won 4-0 against Wigan.
In the 10 years that have followed since then, I’ve seen United win five league titles, two more League Cups, the Champions League and the Club World Cup. As social media has grown in popularity, I’ve been able to meet and talk to so many brilliant people, United fans and otherwise, who’ve helped shaped my thoughts and ideas. Those same people, and others, have helped me raise over £2k for an organisation close to my heart through e-books about United. I’ve been able to write for a load of different outlets I never would have imagined, including ESPN, Four Four Two and The Mirror, among others. I’ve said some pretty ridiculous things, got in to even more ridiculous arguments, and managed to age 10 years!
All in all, it’s been a pretty good decade on here, and I’m so grateful to all the people who have continued to support the site, particularly where the e-books are concerned, whether that’s writing for them or buying them. Over the next few days, leading up to the anniversary on Saturday, you will see accounts from United of the best moments to happen over the past 10 seasons. Enjoy!
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.