When I was younger, the occasions I came across someone who wasn’t a United fan were few and far between. There was a lad at primary school who supported Oldham but even the kids whose parents were City fans saw themselves as United fans when we were small. How it must have broken their dad’s hearts to have to go out and buy the latest United strip and decorate the bedroom in United colours. (Most of these lads have since diverted back to the team they should be supporting, I might add).

I remember after we lost 4-0 to Barcelona back in 1994 one of my dad’s City supporting mates was ribbing me about it. It was probably just light-hearted stuff, I can’t really remember, but I remember getting hot and bothered about it. I didn’t have the knowledge or the maturity to deal with it.

City finished just two places above the relegation zone that season and were sent down the season after. But ho ho ho, United got thrashed by Barcelona, let’s all laugh at them.

As I’ve grown up I’ve obviously come in to contact with more people who aren’t reds and more people who hate the team I adore. Living in Leeds meant I came across more people than ever before who hated what I loved, so I got the best practice imaginable at how to deal with it. On drunken nights it would be dealt with regrettable thrown punches, on other nights I would pick out belittling facts about their team, and on the best nights I would revel in our magnificent achievements. There was always something they could say back though.

Arsenal fans: We won the league at Old Trafford, we won the league in Manchester, you bastards!
Chelsea fans (for a time): We’re richer and better than you, you bastards!
Liverpool fans: We’ve won the league 18 times, you bastards!
Everyone else: We support our local team, you glory supporting bastards!

We’ve now won the league at Old Trafford after getting the result we needed against Arsenal. Chelsea are still richer but they are certainly not better than us any more. Liverpool have won the league 18 times, but so have we.

So what can fans throw at us now? What can the press say about us? Apparently, we’re in decline again.

Scanning through football forums, fans truly seem to believe that because of our defeat at the hands of Barcelona, United are over and done with. Take this example from the F365 mailbox:

Now I am not saying that ManYoo are suddenly a bad team and will not win anything again, but I am convinced that they have finallly been found out and that their best period is behind them. Fergie has lost it. Last season was lucky. The old fart is gone in the head. Liverpool and Chelsea are better teams (first 11 against first 11) and will be the two teams challenging for the title.

Is this a wind up? Or are there people in this country who honestly believe this? Forget that United won the league with their new record points total of 90. Forget that we were robbed of our place in the FA Cup final thanks to Mike “Manchester United fan” Riley going blind when Welbeck was brought down in front of an open goal. Forget that we reached the European Cup final, beating the Champions of Italy and Portugal along the way, as well as totally outclassing Arsenal “beautiful football” FC. Forget that we won the League Cup. Forget that we went to Japan half way through the season and won a trophy there. Forget that we played far more games than any of our rivals, yet still won the league comfortably. Forget it all because we lost to Barcelona and it’s all over for us… just like it was in 1998 and 2002 and 2005.

As a United fan, you have to get better at dealing with people winding you up, because it seems to get worse every year. The media focus and attention we receive from every football fan in this country puts us in a spotlight no other team or fans have had to endure before.

In 2005, the media criticism was at it’s worst, but I can’t even imagine the reaction if we were to even miss out on winning the title now. Winning five trophies in two seasons doesn’t seem enough anymore. Who cares that we’ve won the title three times in a row, that we’ve made two European Cup finals in two years, that we’ve won the League Cup and FIFA World Club Cup? We need to win it all, all the time, to avoid the talk of our ‘decline’.

So hold on to your hats, prepare yourselves for infuriating and inaccurate talk.

1. Liverpool will be back bigger and better next season. If Fernando Torres hadn’t been injured, they would have definitely won the title this season anyway.
2. Following that BATTERING in Rome, it is clear United’s best days are behind them.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo can’t wait to leave. Did you see his expression as he was leaving Rome?
4. Dimitar Berbatov was a flop
5. Chelsea will win the league next season with an experienced manager staying for longer than 9 months.

Start practising!