COMMENT: If only Manchester United could attack as well as their fans turn on each other
It started at the final whistle.
Fed up, angry and miserable after an especially awful - and utterly avoidable - result, the supporters needed an outlet for their building ire. A ninety-four minute accumulation of bad energy was in desperate need of a host, and those who dared formulate their feelings into fresh opinion on Twitter were the unwitting lightning rods. They were pounced upon by raging reds who needed to vent in any direction to anyone about anything.
Fans who voiced frustration at Jose Mourinho's ineptitude and crippling cowardice were attacked for being knee-jerk reactionaries by people reacting themselves like high-kicking can-can dancers. Even the mildest questioning of the manager's tactics was taken as an unequivocal demand for the Portuguese to be sacked. Tempers were so fraught that people were exaggerating pretty tame points until they had something to be mad about.
So 'Mourinho got it wrong tonight' full stop, becomes 'Mourinho got it wrong tonight AND SHOULD BE REPLACED IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE HE HAS ACHIEVED NOTHING WHATSOEVER IN TWO YEARS AND IF ANYTHING WE SHOULD BRING BACK DAVID MOYES' when construed through the filter of those looking for a row. It's like Angry Lego - keep building it up in your head until it's big enough to knock down.
If the glass even slightly empty brigade were having a tough time of it, those suggesting it was remotely filled were faring far worse. Glimpses of sunny optimism were treated like piercing shards of light on shrieking vampires. Again, tiny consolations were amplified in the minds of ticked off tweeters to mean getting knocked out of Europe by Sevilla, and amassing only four shots on target over two legs in the process, was absolutely fine.
But such misconstruing/lambasting is nothing compared to the heat directed towards anyone who dares mention the likes of Alexis Sanchez or Paul Pogba in either a positive or negative light - especially after such a collective shit show of a display. Folk are so indiscriminately angry that you are jumped on regardless of what you say - either for being a glory supporter who condemns a player after one game, or a myopic fan boy/girl.
If you make the valid point that both had absolute stinkers - even allowing for extenuating factors such as bedding in periods and fitness levels - you are accused of being an ungrateful shitbag who is siding with rival fans to attack your own. If however you make the equally valid point that they trying their hardest despite poor form, you are torn into for excusing the inexcusable and ignoring the fact that they are stealing a living.
Of course, Manchester United are not unique in resorting to in-fighting when results don't go their way. It's human nature and most sets of supporters react in much the same manner. It is more the fault/nature of social media, which serves as an outlet for immediate rage against a seemingly infinite number of people you'll never meet. You can't kick Chris Smalling up the arse, but you can certainly have a go at @alexisfan_2402.
The difference with United is that they're one of the biggest and most disparate fan bases out there, and so there's shitloads of people to vent to/at. And as the season peters out in anti-climax and ultimate disappointment, it's not going to get any better any time soon - especially as local rivals Manchester City look increasing favourites for glory both at home and abroad, and Liverpool remain very eminent dark horses for European glory.
Gonna say one thing about the football.
Absolutely zero point in being mard about last night. There are THREE potential END OF DAYS scenarios looming involving two other clubs we should really be worrying about.
Book your flights just in case.
Now go avoid your watercooler.
— Daniel (@Danny_McMoomins) March 14, 2018
It would be easy to suggest that the toxic atmosphere surrounding Old Trafford at present is flowing from the poisonous pores of Jose 'dark arts' Mourinho. That he has somehow managed to inject his noxious personality into the club's DNA like a Russian physio. But that's hardly the case. If anything, the Portuguese's ability to wind up the opposition and get under their skin would naturally unite his own supporters behind him.
Nope. It is not that Jose is inherently trouble, or that he creates drama wherever he goes. Mourinho being problematic in about a thousand different ways isn't the issue here. It's far worse than that. The tidal wave of anger has much more to do with the fact that *straps on tin hat* his progress at present is simply not good enough. Petulance will never be a problem if allied with success - but irrelevance is inexcusable.
That's what truly causes all the anger, infighting and fume. The fear - and realisation - that you don't really matter at the business end of the season. That, really, you're just an expensive circus. To the comments!
Unfiltered with James O'Brien
This week: Lord Alf Dubs on escaping the Nazis and fighting for refugees
The Unfiltered back catalogue is FREE to listen to. Fascinating interviews with Gary Lineker, Russell Brand, Lily Allen, Eric Cantona, Alastair Campbell, Jon Ronson, Nick Clegg and more.