Manchester United away. It gets it over with.
There are some things in football that are to be enjoyed, and some that are to be endured. You can guess which of these Sunday’s excursion to Greater Manchester comes under. Even though we won there last season, and we beat them at home earlier this season, it’s still a place that you never look forward to visiting. Not so much because you’re bound to lose, but because it’s Old Trafford, that great temple to commercialism, bombast, mythology (some of which is even occasionally vaguely close to the truth) and fraudulent refereeing.
Sadly, they seem to have made sure of getting into the Champions League and even more sadly they’ve won one trophy this season and are in the final of another, because one of the many annoying things about Manchester United, just like Liverpool before them, is that no matter how bad they say they are, they always manage to pick up a trophy every few years. Meanwhile, we’re still in the race for that coveted seventh spot. A lot of players have played for both teams. They’ve brought Jimmy Rimmer, David Platt, Paul McGrath and Eric Djemba Djemba through the ranks for us, we lent them Ashley Young for a bit. There’s nothing original that can be said about their supporters, except that there’s now a (very) marginal case for saying they’re not the most obnoxious bunch in Greater Manchester.
We’ve both got rid of two managers since we beat them last season and ours is better than theirs now. We’ve also got better owners, although that isn’t difficult. They’ve got a collection of over-paid, over-rated mercenaries with Tom Heaton on the bench because sitting there earns him more than playing would. Ain’t football great? We’ll have no more injuries, but none that have cleared up either, despite a week or two coming and going several times.
We’re used to heading into the last few weeks of the season with something to play for, but this is the first time in over a decade that it’s at the right end of the right table. If you’re not watching and you want to know how we’ve got on, wait until ten minutes past full time then look at Ceefax or whatever it’s called these days. If the final result hasn’t come up by then, you’ll know we’re winning.