Font Size

Menu Style


Match Reports

match reports







Flowers of Manchester

articlePaul returns with an article on the last week which has seen the Munich anniversary take centre stage

It’s been a lousy week, truly awful. Even aside from some personal problems that reared their ugly head this past week or so, my usual source of comfort, the place I go to be uplifted, entertained, inspired, contrived to leave me with more puzzled looks and an angrier heart instead of any sort of mollification.   

In the most emotive week I can certainly recall as a Manchester United fan, we remembered our Babes of ’58, who at just-past-three on February the 6th perished in the slush of a Munich runway, ‘all masters of their trade’, as the poignant lyric puts it. One reason I didn’t write anything on Munich was that there was so much being written and said that I didn’t feel I could add anything new to it. It is a tragedy of before my time, but one that now belongs to me forever, and has done unknowingly or not since the day I nailed my colours to the Manchester United mast. 

Anyone who saw the BBC Four special of ‘Nation on Film’ must have been reaching for the tissues, as I know my housemate and I, who sat in the dark with lumps the size of grapefruits in our throats, were. Sir Bobby Charlton, he who asks the questions everyone cursed with survival guilt does, watched for the first team the team, his team, that was destroyed by that crash in glorious colour, and a light of memory, camaraderie and friendship was alive, flickering across those rheumy eyes, if only for a second. His tearful recollections had me in pieces, and it truly transcends any footballing matter when you look at it face-on. A group of prodigiously talented young men, by a cruel twist of fate, lay broken in a field just beyond a foreign runway. Anyone who thinks this tragedy funny or worthy of mockery, as I know some do, have a grievous problem with themselves. For me, it takes a lot to put a football match into perspective of what it is, and I cringe to say it here. It’s a game, an important, life-altering game, but a game nonetheless. We didn’t just salute footballers who died at Munich, we remember all of them, all 23, as human beings, whose light was extinguished way before time. 

And yet, as is the wont of humans, we soon turned back to business. The weekend before I watched a lethargic and thoroughly creatively bankrupt United purloin a point at Spurs. White Hart Lane is usually a fine away-day, with open football and often a United three points. However, Juande Ramos has taken all five volumes never mind a leaf out of his compatriot at Liverpool’s book ‘How to Make a Dour Cup Team’, and good luck to him for it. They frustrated us, and we were lucky to nick the point we did. 

We knew this weekend would be hard, and whatever twist of fate had thrown together the slush, a runway and a loaded plane now put together two fierce rivals on the most emotive of weekends. The papers and every media outlet spewed stories about how City fans might or might not disrupt the proceedings. In the end, it seemed as the two managers placed the wreaths and the scarves were held high, everyone’s minds were more on which twat might be first to ruin the silence, not thinking of 23 people who had died the half century before. The silence passed, and the game began. Since this point, I had to admit I have scratched my head slightly. Everyone, to a man, arose and applauded the City fans for their respect, their humanity, their choice of respecting the silence. For me, why should we congratulate a load of people on what was overwhelmingly the correct, humane thing to do? Well done for taking a minute out of your lives hating us to get yourself some credit. What a joke. Soon the priest will be thanking everyone at funerals for not listening to an iPod or chatting on your phone during the ceremony. Well done City. 

Speaking of well done City, this is going to be one of the hardest sentences I’ve ever had to write. City were better. We defended pathetically, with Rio and Vidic looked like lost sheep, not sure of position or mindset, a standpoint we are not accustomed to seeing from such strong players. We seemed bereft of ideas, their goals were comical in their ease, and when we withdrew Anderson, who I thought was one of a sundry few showing any ambition, the game petered out. Carrick may have scored toward the end yes, but if there was ever a case of too little, much, much too late this was it. Much was made by the commentators of Mr Rooney’s absence from all our defeats this season, usually accompanied by a well-timed cut to our stubbled hero sitting scowling in the crowd. Whilst statistics can prove anything, it is rather humbling to think that our only catalyst, the one person who can motivate and drag our team on is Wayne, however much of a hero and fearsome presence he is. I know, I love him, a great player and one with an attitude a lot of people could learn from, but it can’t bode well that without him we are rudderless. 

 Fair enough, we had had internationals in the week, but so had everyone else. As the second goal skimmed in off Benjani’s head, my girlfriend said I had tears in my eyes. And I did, no shame in admitting it. It was an embarrassment to watch a supposedly proud team go down to such an average one in such a pitiful way. They were an embarrassment to the commemorative shirts they were wearing. On one blog, someone had written that United actually wanted to lose, as a mark of respect to a team they didn’t want to be seen as better as, namely the Babes. What a load of shite! Sometimes, I actually wonder about people who watch football, I mean, what kind of rubbish is this? Going out and battering our hated rivals would have been the finest salute of all to our lost men, but it didn’t materialise. 

We now have Arsenal in the FA Cup Saturday teatime, a team who sit a vertiginous five points above us. Our season looks to be derailed in a dramatic, emotionally ravaged week, and we must show the heart and spirit accustomed to this team of ours to pull ourselves up. A real performance will be needed against a team we let off numerous hooks at the Emirates. I hope and pray we can pull ourselves together. All in all, forget this week, but remember the players, the journalists, the coaches, all the men who were lost in an icy Bavarian field fifty years ago. 


 Paul M

 P.S As a last note, I think Sky Sports deserve a nod of recognition. Usually, Sky are high (no pun intended) on the schmaltz and faux sentimentality, but the opening to their broadcast on Sunday was truly classy, truly heartfelt, and very apt. It upset me almost instantly, as does the brilliant, haunting piano playing in the background. If you didn’t see it, it’s here:

You are here: Home Articles Flowers of Manchester