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Manchester United and Me

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For Ben, this is more than just an exhibition game.

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Manchester United Media Access Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

As mentioned before, I am not from around these parts. I was born, raised and live in the city of Leeds in the United Kingdom and let me tell you now that our love for the county of West Yorkshire could stand side by side with the kind of American patriotism that the good ol’ U S of A is famous for. It’s called “God’s Own County” for a reason!

There are many things drilled into a lad from Yorkshire from an early age. Don’t ever turn down a bargain (even if you don’t need whatever is on sale), the only tea worth drinking is Yorkshire Tea and that anything on the other side of The Pennines is our enemy, including that footballing juggernaut Manchester United.

Our cities have a long history of rivalry which dates back to the War of the Roses, so it’s not just in sports where we butt heads. But since 1923, there have been 109 meetings between the two teams, and almost all of them have been combative affairs. In 1965 during an FA Cup semifinal, the iconic image of Jack Charlton and Dennis Law fist-fighting each other to the ground showed just how deep the hatred went.

Since I have followed football there have been moments where that rivalry dominated my school and social circle. The selling of Alan Smith — a Leeds-born player who became a club hero in our tough times — to Manchester United was like watching Landon Donovan pull on a Mexico shirt. Watching Roy Keane intentionally break both of Alfe Inge Haalands legs as he played for Manchester City (another team we hate) renewed our dislike for them. In the 2010 FA Cup while we were two leagues below them, Leeds pulled off an amazing upset by beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford, which sent Leeds into a full day of celebration.

All of which is my disclaimer for this piece because I cannot be impartial about this game. Manchester United are the worst team in the world and so frequently bring shame on the sport that Yorkshire invented and I can’t wait to see them get beaten by Real Salt Lake.

Manchester United’s decades of dominance in English football has always been tainted with several troubles. The biggest is the concept of “Fergie Time” which is the widely acknowledged phenomenon that happened when Manchester United were losing or drawing and for reasons only known to the referee an implausibly long amount of extra time is granted which often ended with Manchester United getting a crucial goal. A combination of intimidation from players and fans often means that those extra seconds were granted time and time again to which The Red Devils gladly took advantage off. Everybody hated the Alex Ferguson effect and this was one of the most obvious ones. In Leeds, nobody was sitting when this happened and no TV was safe from abuse.

FUN FACT: My grandma (who is called Barbie or “Babs” by everybody) still watches Man U games when they are on TV in hopes that they will lose and has done for years. She will cheer anybody on if they are against Manchester United.

Another big part of why they are so disliked is down to the way they operated once the Premier League money started to come in. Manchester’s famed Class of ‘92 brought them an influx of world class players from their academy that made the backbone of the team for so long. What’s often understated is that the Premier League machine, by which I mean the marketing and corporate images, got behind Manchester early on which often afforded them lots of TV money. As the team progressed and the money came rolling in, that money often found them picking teams dry of talent, a practice still ongoing in the Premier League today. The purchase of Romelu Lukaku from Everton for nearly £90 million is the latest in a long time of high profile players who a club can build around being picked from those teams and added to Manchester’s star-studded lineup, leaving those teams with money but a hole that can rarely be filled.

It’s often chalked up to jealousy but recently more attention has been paid to the monopoly that has been created at the top by mega rich clubs such as Manchester United who sign players just so they don’t play for the rivals with Jose Mourinho even signlling this time has to end in this day and age.

And they are just so arrogant! Players and fans walking around all high and mighty because they won a few titles! With their prawn sandwiches and annoying marketing campaigns that wouldn’t be out of place in the WWE! It’s just not on! We can’t let this kind of thing slide anymore! This sport is heading for a disaster of biblical proportions! Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Which is why Manchester United must be stopped and Real Salt Lake are the team to do it. From favouritism from officials, raiding clubs of their talent to creating a culture of supremacy based around their ill-gotten success, they are the worst team in football.