The summer is here, and for a healthy chunk of the Manchester United faithful the idea that football can exist without the Red Devils is a tough sell. “Pah, international football isn’t the real thing” cry those who can’t wait for the season to start up again in August, and plan to spend the intervening months refreshing Twitter hoping for new transfer news…
But the thing is, while it is an absolute inarguable fact that international football during the season is a bad thing, summer tournaments are absolutely brilliant. If you can turn down the top red dial for a couple of weeks, and enjoy some football for the sake of football, you might just find you like it.
To help you do so, here are the TOP FIVE reasons that United fans should watch these Euros.
The Euros are about to be ruined
Ok, perhaps this is a little too late. The nice thing about the Euros in comparison with the World Cup was always the concentration of quality. Where the World Cup was brilliant for its global span, and the chance to see players who were a genuine surprise, the Euros always had a better great game to dud ratio. The expansion to 24 teams and a cursory look through the groups might suggest the dilution has already begun here, but it’s about to get worse because before he was, I dunno, locked up or whatever happened, Michel Platini came up with a hare-brained scheme to do away with a host nation.
Instead, Euro 2020 will be played at 12 to 13 cities across the continent, perfectly viable from a logistic perspective, but definitely a bit of a shame. World Cups, Copa Americas, European Championships—these things benefit from the festival-of-football atmosphere generated by being hosted in one country.
2016 will be the last chance to enjoy this, so take the time to do so.
Loads of Reds and ex-Reds will be in action
Right, so if the purity of the tournament isn’t a draw, here’s an excuse that’ll leave your top red credentials intact. There will be a huge United contingent in this tournament. There are 12 players currently in the club’s employ attending, and a host of fondly remembered former players will be in action too.
Patrice Evra and John O’Shea are both involved, and ex-reds don’t get a lot more beloved than that.
Anthony Martial will be in action for the hosts, and Roy Hodgson has done the right thing and taken everyone’s favourite boy wonder Marcus Rashford.
Wayne Rooney will be someone else’s problem for a month
Rooney is one of the all-time great United players, will almost certainly retire as the club’s leading ever goalscorer and is revered by a huge section of the Old Trafford faithful for his ability, effort and on-pitch commitment.
But, come on, even those of you who absolutely love Wazza must be getting a bit worried that he’s not as good as he should be anymore? Louis van Gaal had a pop at making him a midfielder and he did very well so long as no one gave him any hassle. He didn’t do too well when people did, but, for the month of June, Rooney becomes an entire country’s problem, and we don’t have to worry about him.
Good luck Roy, you’ll need it.
It’ll be a nice palate cleanser between Louis and Jose.
By the end of the Van Gaal era, a lot of us were pretty sick of the ol’ football. The FA Cup win was great and all, but my goodness the preceding season took some sitting through. Now Jose has rocked up and we’re all assuming that next season, while perhaps not set to be a feast of free-flowing attacking football will at least not make an Aperol Spritz branded neck pillow the de-rigeur accessory of choice at the Theatre of Dreams.
Having a load of football to enjoy will act like the sorbet between the unpalatable starter that was Van Gaal-ball and the Mourinho era.
There’s football on telly all the time
Honestly, it’s just brilliant. For the duration of the group stages there are three football matches on EVERY SINGLE DAY. You’ll learn about Hungarian and Icelandic stars, and get to watch Paul Pogba dabbing. There are always surprises in international tournaments, moments that you remember long after the circus has left town. They’re a special thing, a marker in our footballing lives, and they are something you can share with new people, people for whom United’s achievements don’t mean much—a wider football loving population with whom you suddenly realise you have a lot in common.
International football tournaments are brilliant. Enjoy this one, and I’ll see you in a month, when we’ll know whose won, and which emerging star Ed Woodward will be throwing money at until he agrees to join United. Here’s hoping it’s Patrice.