There are stomachs knotted all over Manchester. Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur too. Whether Stockport or Stockholm bred, bitter blue or #mufcfamily red, there are whole swaths of people around the world feeling an uneasy mixture of hope and fear. It’s because there’s a football match on next Monday that matters quite a lot to them.

It really shouldn’t matter this much. Usually it’s quite easy(ish) to be philosophical about football. You can’t win them all, it’s only a game, etc, etc. But this time it’s different. Because this time the joy of winning is counter-balanced by the potential catastrofuck of losing. A bit like a ravenous midget at the butchers, it’s as if the
stakes are just too high to bear.

Winning the league at the expense of your most bitter of rivals would be sweeter than Katherine Jenkins fashioned from candyfloss and coated by hundreds and thousands (behave). But losing, it’s just…aaarrgh. It would be insufferable. It would be literally impossible to suffer (student meaning of the word ‘literal’ there). Especially for those of us who have the misfortune to share classrooms, workplaces and favourite tweed retailers with that other lot.

How bloody exciting though.

Isn’t it fucking ace to feel such heightened emotions. Isn’t it special to have a thing or occasion in your life that matters so much. Of course it makes you feel a bit sick, or a lot sick even. It because it’s fucking visceral, man. It grabs you by the lapels like Eric Morecambe and shakes you awake. It’s the kind of thing that reminds you that you’re still properly alive and able to feel such feelings, when work and bills and work would have you slowly die.

So cherish this week. Cherish the hysteria that’s welling up inside you. Love it, love the crap out of it. Because some people never feel this. They just don’t. It’s great to be invested in something that makes you feel physically ill for caring. And it may sound dramatic, but you might not experience something like this ever again. So be
glad it’s happening.

The love of a football club is like any other love. It really isn’t a victory march. But you’ve got to be all in and be prepared to have your heart broken and smashed to bits, otherwise it’s no love at all. Enjoy the anticipation, and the potential beauty of what could be. Even if it could turn out shit. Because it’s what we endure all the
hours of blandness for. Stuff that truly matters.