It’s not defeat that hurts most. The jealousy of victory causes more pain. Longing for what could have been is more poignant than loss.

Seeing the joy that you so craved, seeing their players dancing where United players could have done.

You lose games, it happens, but rarely after a loss do you see such an outpouring of joy from the opposition like at the end of a European Cup Final. What would we have been doing in the aftermath? What would I be singing now?

Yes it irritates when we get messages from supporters of our neighbours in blue and our foes from up the East Lancs Road but it all seems a bit of a blur. A blur lost in the clarity of knowing you’re not now waving a flag and screaming ‘obla di obla da Man United, European Champions’. They would be mistaken for thinking their quips and remarks were anything more than an irrelevant footnote.

I wasn’t there last night, my error for opting out of the Carling Cup games for the first time. It makes it slightly easier. In Rome to see their supporters in the flesh at close quarters was cutting. I didn’t want to massacre them en masse, I was simply incredibly jealous. Standing in the stadium and feeling the waves of joy coming straight across the pitch from their end was difficult. The long walk back into town was needed and then to rest on the Spanish Steps whilst watching their fans dance and sing and do all the things I so longed to do was the worst part. It’s the nice comments and gestures which are the worst, the Catalan equivalent of ‘chin up’.

A no doubt delicious slice of pizza tasted like razor edged cardboard and was swapped for a tepid can of continental beer to be ‘enjoyed’ whilst watching the festivities continue. To this day I don’t know why we sat there watching them for so long.

Oh it hurts but its only football isn’t it. On our way back to Manchester from Rome we found out at Schiphol Airport that my husband’s grandmother had passed away. We found out she was gravely ill after the game and had changed our flights to get back early, but obviously not early enough. On enquiring where we were in hospital she was told we’d followed United to Rome and remarked ‘oh that bloody football team’. The whole family supports United but at the end of the day it’s not life and death regardless of what Bill Shankly said and the level-headed amongst Liverpool supporters would agree.

So before we let our emotions run away and start a blame game. Before we look for fault where perhaps there is none. And before we turn on each other’s opinions like rabid wild-dogs, let’s realise that we were simply beaten by a better team.

Every supporter questioning tactics now would have been doing the same had we packed the midfield and still lost. Yes, we could have played better. Yes things may have been different but does anyone think a change here and there would have handed us victory?

We notice mistakes our own players make more, we analyse them. Imports from far or near seem clean in comparison without the baggage of ‘that bad performance’ or ‘that game they cost us’ or a poor run of form. When as a supporter we want a player bought these things are not concerns, their weaknesses at another club either unknown, ignored, or excused.

The incumbents struggle to compete with such observations. Absence makes the heart grow fonder even before the romance has begun. Yet there are some players who usually escape this handicap, our first football loves. Getting too metaphorical? Well it just shows how we mere human beings are always subject to the irrationality of emotions, in football as in life.

We lost. Let’s deal with it. If you can be there to cheer the boys through the streets of Manchester tomorrow then make sure you are. They’ve just won our nineteenth league title so let’s show them just how proud they make us.

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Written by Annie Eaves from The Mirror. Follow her on Twitter.




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