As a lad, I still gave a shit about England. Whilst being proud of my Mancunian roots, I enjoyed watching England play. I hear United fans talk about how you can do both, support our club and follow England passionately, but all that died out for me probably around Euro 96. Now, I can’t abide by the national team and after the past ten years or so, can’t get my head around United fans feeling as strongly for England as they do for us.
I don’t think it’s a hatred I have for England, it’s certainly not a feeling comparable to the one inspired by Liverpool FC, but I do take pleasure in seeing them fuck up. I don’t like to see our lads gutted, of course, and I do take pleasure in seeing them do well for their country, so I suppose their failure against Croatia last season was pretty perfect. Without a single United player in the squad, England lost to Croatia and failed to qualify for Euro 2008, finishing with the same points as Israel, who are ranked 16th in the World.
The England team is filled with players I have no time for, from John Terry to Steven Gerrard, and Frank Lampard to Ashley Cole. The idea of feeling pleased to see Terry shove his opponent down as he rises to put a header in the back of the net, or Steven Gerrard scoring a screamer, just doesn’t add up to me. When I see those England fans chanting Rooney’s name just a week after coming to Old Trafford to support their club, calling him a “fat bastard” I’m filled with rage. It seems entirely moronic.
Until recently, there seemed to be an idea that fans of English clubs should support other clubs from our league in Europe. That night in Istanbul was gut-wrenching for me, watching those scouse twats pull back a result from being 3-0 down, yet this was supposed to be a moment of “national pride”.
“Unbelievable. Incredible. Brilliant. The whole country is very proud of you,” said Tony Blair. “Wasn’t it absolutely amazing? Anyway, Liverpool can be very proud of itself and Britain’s very proud of Liverpool.”
Mancunian pride is something I’m far more aware of. Whilst there was the odd bitter with their head in their hands when John Terry missed that penalty, the majority of blues in the local were getting pissed and celebrating with us, particularly those of the generations above. If Wayne Rooney scored the winning goal for England in the World Cup final, I’d be chuffed. But those feelings would quickly melt away when watching TinyTears lifting the trophy.
I read the featured blog on the official United site this week and I just have to wonder where these fans come from… the fans who are more than happy to forget the anti-United chants that regularly did the rounds at Wembley when four or five of our players were on the pitch representing their country, the fans who shrug off the vile treatment David Beckham received following World Cup 98, the fans who now watch those same England mugs hailing a past-it Beckham as a ‘legend’ when he comes off the bench these days, the fans who tear Wayne Rooney apart only to hail him as the Messiah when he scores a goal or two.
I’m utterly embarrassed by the behaviour of England fans, to the point I’d never want to associate myself with them. They reached a new low this weekend when they booed Ashley Cole following his sloppy pass back to the keeper. Sure, I think Cole is as much of a cunt as the next guy, but christ, you’ve got to worry when a silly mistake from a player on the team you’re supposedly there to support earns deafening boos.
Above my feelings for England players, the cringing that their fans bring, ultimately, I don’t understand how you can have room in you to love more than one club. The opinion of Tony O’Neill summed it up rather well for me.
The England scene has never been one that got me going, for one reason: being a United fanatic, the passion for my team consumed everything in me. No way could I get passionate about watching anyone else, not even my national team. United has consumed my life, so trying to watch and sing along with any other fans does nothing for me. All my excitement is with United, from getting up in the morning on a match day to going to bed. I still can’t get my head round how people can switch, you support your team from childhood until death, that’s how it should be.
Whilst not doubting the support fans feel for United if they do have room for England, each to their own and that, it is an opinion I can’t get my head around. I wish the United > England banner was shown proudly on the Stretford End and I wish we sung the anti-England songs more frequently than we do.
I love United but I also love my national team. There’s no better feeling than when England get to the final stages of a tournament like the Euros or the World Cup, especially when the whole country gets behind the team.
Qualifiers like Saturday’s game against Kazakhstan are as important as tournament matches if not more so, as we need to qualify first. Obviously. Of course, I don’t want our (United) players to get injured while they’re on international duty, but they run that risk every time they go out on a pitch.
England is important to me and it is sad that a lot of United fans don’t have the same passion for our national team.
I just don’t get it…
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. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.