I was privileged to be at Man. Utd.’s victory over Aston Villa yesterday. I gather that the attendance of 76,003 was a record for Old Trafford, certainly since the days of all seater grounds and a record for the Premiership.
The game was good. ‘A game of two halves,’ as they say. United were awesome in the first half and it it looked as though it could become one of those freak scores that occasaionally happen. However, Villa dug in after half time, United sat back, as they often seem to, and surrendered more possession to Villa who, thanks to a rare mistake from Vidic, scored a goal. For a short time it looked as though Villa might get back into it, but alas for Villa fans, it was not to be.
Liverpool (7 team changes from the match against Arsenal) and Arsenal looked very good yesterday – the Henri goal was brilliant – and Chelsea, without quite ‘hitting their straps’ were ominously convincing.
I found myself falling into territory occupied by sociologists in the 1960’s and 1970’s in looking at football support as a religious phenomenon. The ground was pregnant with expectation to begin with; the adoration was obvious; the liturgies were familiar and established, albeit a little vulgar at times, and the involvement, despite the ‘prawn sandwich’ contingent, was self-evident. It would take someone as weird as me to make such a comparison, but I couldn;t help it!
Even the now accepted nickname for the ground, ‘the theatre of dreams’ carries with it the hint of promise and fulfilment despite the odd nightmare! I wonder how long the nickname will last if United cease to deliver. The good thing about God is that He sticks around, even if at times, He plays hard to get!