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Time To Get A Second Team?

Not being Irish, I don’t really understand the whole “second team” malarky. When Robbie Keane signed for Liverpool, claiming they were his boyhood team, before signing for Celtic, and claiming the same about them, he was ridiculed on this blog. I, like many, didn’t and don’t understand how you can support two teams. I won’t get in to this supporting your local team debate, given that I’m lucky enough to have Manchester United as my local team. If I lived in the middle of nowhere and my local side were some uninspiring outfit from Division 3, would I love them like I love United? I’d like to think yes but I’m not going to start preaching to others about something I can’t prove I’d do myself. Regardless, the issue of taking on a second team has never been relevant to me. However, now, for the first time ever, can red Mancunians claim to have a second team?

When Roy Keane took charge of Sunderland, less than a year after leaving United, it was natural for us to look out for their results. He had been such a massive figure in shaping our greatest moments over the past decade so of course we would wish him the best wherever he got in to management. If the United connection had ended there, we probably wouldn’t have thought much else of it, but as the years have gone by, this connection has grown.

In the past five years alone, Sunderland have been represented by Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson, Frazier Campbell, Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Danny Simpson, Danny Higginbotham, Liam Miller, David Healey and Paul McShane. Our former keeper, Raimond Van der Gouw has worked at the club as a coach and our former Reserve team coach, Ricky Sbragia, was on their staff and was caretaker manager when Keano left. Mick Brown, our former assistant manager, was their head scout, Neil Bailey, our former youth team coach is on their staff, as well as our former player, Michael Clegg. Not only was one former captain, Keane, their manager, but our captain when we brought back our first title in twenty six years, Steve Bruce, is their current manager.

With John O’Shea and Wes Brown joining those numbers yesterday, it’s pretty hard to deny the link between the two clubs. Whilst some of those players mentioned above weren’t fans’ favourites or hadn’t played at United for a while, these two are well loved by our fans.

In the 2003 run in, United fans took a “We’ve got Wesley Brown, we’ve got John O’Shea, Manchester is dreaming of silverware in May” banner to the away games. Both their songs, particularly Wes’, regularly get sung at Old Trafford and will do for years to come. Seeing these lads we’ve watched grow up at the club wearing the shirt of another won’t feel nice, but it will also make it more difficult to avoid that soft spot for Sunderland.

Clearly though, I’m not actually adopting Sunderland as my second team, but I will probably feel a stronger attachment to them than I have any club that isn’t United before. Just looking at their squad, their back four next season will probably consist entirely consist of our youth team products!

I will be cheering them on though, looking out for their score, and hoping they do as well as possible next season.

Come on Brucey and the lads!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Dave Malaysia says:

    @smartalex: ok get it,tq.

    kudu kilt ,bagpipes and a knobberrie! :lol:

    haggis readin gettin me into the harry potter final segment mood!

    see u later impi , hungry need go find dinner!

    great news about Chris!.

  2. wayne says:

    for me its not a second team just teams hope do better than others.some teams i out and out hate,other teams i admire,everton being one,like david moyes,players play hard for him and the team proves still be a top team in the prem without having a ton of money. like sunderland sir alex has done quite a bit of business with them,sunderland for obvious reasons will be a team i hope does well.think there is a pattern with sir alex helps out managers he likes,bruce and moyes gets lots of love from the gaffer.

  3. CedarsDevil says:


    Always a pleasure my fellow die hard RED

  4. DforDerivative says:

    Marseille have been my second team since the glory days of Fabien Barthez, Basile Boli, Jean-Pierre Papin and, erm, Chris Waddle. Doesn’t stop United being my first and true love.

    That said, the game last season in the Velodrome between my two loves was probably the most boring game I’ve seen since I started supporting United about 20 years ago.

  5. Green Red says:

    @ Long john O’Shea & Gerkeo

    Nah if your goin pirate it shud be Phil Jones’ Locker

  6. roguen17 says:

    I have my own team, but pick a team to support from the lower leagues to keep an eye out for their results and occasionally go watch, I dont think theres anything wrong with it.

    In terms of boyhood clubs from players I reckon the best/worst example of that was Teddy Sheringham, who supported Millwall, West Ham, Spurs, Forest and no doubt United as a boy and would go to their home games as a youngun. Id love to see the bus pass that allowed him to do that!

    Having said that, when he was at West Ham, Teddy managed to play in a Saturday late kick off game away at Bolton, but was still spotted in the VIP bar in Faces in Gants Hill before 11 the same evening, so I suppose it must be possible!

  7. johnboy14 says:

    All any united fan can do is wish them well. I don’t feel any urge to follow every sunderland result but you would be lying if you said you didn’t care how our former players faired on there own. I take great pleasure out the sheer number of former greats that are now managers and coaches and alot are very good managers at that.

  8. Manchuchu says:

    I was considering following Everton when they had Landon Donovan on loan, it was a spillover from me following the USA when they played in the Confederations cup that year. But when he left they were so boring.

    Isn’t Sunderland a country club offshoot for MUFC anyway? Seems like it, though I have to say I’m a fan of Asamoah Gyan.

  9. Long John O'Shea says:

    @ gerkeo @ green red….

    cheers lads, Im going with Phil Jones’ Locker

  10. bayobuya says:

    @Dave Malaysia & Smartalex .. The baby has cool moves but would give the gaffer a nightmare make sure its nowhere near matchday. BTW the sound track is from DJ Cleo another Zulu from RSA.

  11. smartalex says:

    “It was one of those things,” he said about leaving the champions. “I was there for 13 fantastic years

  12. seasonticketholder says:

    I live Peterborough, do you think I support “The Posh”? Do I fuck!!!! Manchester United is my Religion and if you think I’m gonna let geography dictate that then you must be mad. I have enough love for one team and one team only.

  13. david Finnega says:

    This blog explains exactly how United became so popular in Ireland. There have been Irish players playing for United for over 100 years, so when local lads (dont forget the population of Ireland is only 4 million, so everyone is local) went to a club like United it was big news, still is.
    Naturally Irish people took an interest , some (most) ended up supporting United, others Liverpool, Leeds or just about anywhere there was a close connection.
    I know people that support Ipswich, Leeds, Liverpool, West Ham, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Everton, City and now because of the Irish connection at Sunderland there are a few of their shirts knocking about.

  14. troutalan says:

    I’m Irish and I couln’t give a flying fuck about Celtic or any other shower for that matter. I
    personally wouldn’t swap a United Community Shield for an Irish World cup win. So
    bollocks to Sunderland who would kick the shit out of us if they needed to beat us to stay
    up. It’s Simple. United and only United!!!!!

  15. T4M says:


  16. RedScottX says:

    Been wanting to ask y’all this question,but wat does T4M mean when he types this”…”?

  17. T4M says:

    redscottx,i type that to when i have nothing to say so i can have feedback sent to my mail box

  18. d_arblay says:

    if you base the choosing of your team purely on locality, having a second one makes little sense. if you base it on other things however (i.e. family connections or dual nationality etc.) it can make perfect sense. im both a diehard United and Celtic fan. being half english and half scottish there’s some justification, but its not a logical decision. i have a brother who i adored who grew up a celtic fan. he also started supporting United during and after the ’85 cup final (supporting United throughout as they were the 10-men underdog). knowing they were his teams, i too became hooked. but once you fall for something, rational understanding and logic dont really apply. that said, i dont think you can feasibly support two teams from the same country/league. but given my two teams seldom meet apart from friendly affairs, ive yet to face any major conflict of interest. at the end of the day, its what you feel that counts. and my heart still impulsively skips a beat every time either a United or Celtic player scores a goal. thats why i have some connection and empathy with the likes of Robbie Keane… i dont think for a second he was lying about celtic and liverpool being his two teams. indeed, he was often spotted at celtic games down the years. Craig Gardner? well, he’s another story.

  19. supertramp says:

    Been a United fan for over 20 years and I believe that it’s kinda next to impossible for a United fan to have a second team. While I may have admired the Barca and Milan teams over the last 15-20 years, even seeing either of them doing well in Europe would piss me off. I would rather have had United doing the business in Europe instead of them. Likewise for teams like Madrid, Porto and Juventus, who have won countless domestic titles, I’d rather they don’t win anymore, so that United is the team in the whole of Europe with the maximum number of titles. But then it’s to each his own. Not judging anyone else over here. I will say however, that life does become a bit difficult for a foreign United fan. There’s too much suspicion and labeling that comes with the pedigree. But it’s all worth it – being a United fan is privilege. The class of the gaffer and the overwhelming majority of lads who’ve played for us over the years, and CLASS as men, as individuals make you thank the fact that it’s United that rocks your world. When one listens to what most dippers have to say, just generally abt stuff, the kinda venom they have – you sit up and realize, rarely any United fan in the world would spout verbal crap like this. I thank God I’m a Red Devil!

  20. SAFrican says:

    My gran was born near Sunderland and her family supported Sunderland when she was young. She started supporting United as an adult in the 50s…my family have supported them ever since! So I’m not a true Mancunian, but I love United and would never support another team. Yet at the same time I do have a soft spot for Sunderland due to heritage and as you said as well :)

  21. Clint-IamYourPapii says:

    Thanks Dave Malaysia :)

    I am probably the oddest Local United supporter ever!
    I was born in East London
    Moved to Bradford at 3
    Moved to Rochdale at 5
    My Dad got a job in Manchester when i was 6
    Left when I was 9 to go to Leeds for a year
    Then Moved permanently to live in southhampton
    At 18, I left home to study & work in London But Occasionally visit family in Southhampton,bradford,rochdale & The Great Manchester. & To also go OT as much as possible.
    When Im not working im in 1/4 of the 4 cities above.

    :) Crazzzy

    I have followed United since I was 6 & the only team i look into mostly out of other clubs are QPR, only out of interest because it is close to where I work and recently have got well known owners but if they got relegated I couldn’t give 2 shits.

  22. Emyoueffsee says:

    “We’ve lost wesley brown,we’ve lost john o’shea at least we picked up ashley young,young phil jones and de gea”Sorry!

  23. MUFCReidy says:

    I can understand the whole “second team” thing because I go and watch FC when United aren’t playing…

  24. Kriky says:

    Well, I think i understand it. I mean, I’m from a small town in Hungary… I can’t enjoy the Hungarian football. There are 2000 people in the stadiums, and I don’t they even like their own players…
    United is much different. I don’t think that we have as much fans here as FC Barcelona, or any other scum, but it’s cool.

    Anyway, i couldn’t enjoy any Hungarian matches – the Hungarian national team is the only exception. They’re playing an acceptable football, with a bunch of fans… There is a fantastic atmosphere at their matches, and when there’s a Hungary – Sweden match, i get as excited as an United – Chelsea. So… maybe my “second team” is my national team.

  25. feedemscraps says:

    A second team due to utd affiliations? Then Its gotta be FCUM.

  26. Nesh Eric says:

    Hope Steve B does a Phil Neville and makes one of them Captain, would be great! but all in all Sunderland is our B team now. Good one Scott…

  27. swede says:

    Always liked Sunderland and their fans since their fans went past Old Trafford on their way home in 1996 after having secured the Championship title while we won the premier league up at Middlesbrough.
    We celebrated together on the forecourt and in the pubs and I have enjoyed great times with Sunderland fans after that as well in the pub before games against them. It’s not about having a second team for me to cheer for but about having had the pleasure of dealing with their fans and realising they are a great bunch of people.


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