Whether it is, “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back” or “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” there is definitely a divide among Manchester United supporters.
The 2017-2018 campaign has seen the Red Devils of Manchester secure the Community Shield, EFL Cup and if they win Thursday’s home match against Rostov FC land themselves in the final-eight of the Europa League. While that does not sound like the worst of seasons, especially after what has happened in the past few years, fans are still upset and want more.
In the Premier League, Manchester United have found themselves in 6th place for months and, for some supporters, the lack of movement up the table is crippling. With a club the size of the Old Trafford outfit there are bound to be fans on both ends of the spectrum and we all know that it is difficult to please anyone 100% of the time.
These fans have been happy with the results so far this season as a whole, but are willing to admit that it could be better as they have seen some matches that could have been better. They have trust in Jose Mourinho and think that United are in a building phase that is much different than that of previous unsuccessful managers, Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes. These supporters are looking at the big picture and believe that, from-a-far, the United of today is a closer representation to the club of old. Manchester United have an identity back and even the fans are singing about “being into something good”.
These optimistic fans are the ones that were waiting patiently for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to slip into form early in the season once he had the trust of the manager. As painful as it was to watch such an exciting player waiting on the bench for his chance, deep down these patient reds knew that it was just a matter of time.
Last week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have seen a red card a few times in the match against Bournemouth. In the second half Zlatan’s elbow struck the face of Tyrone Mings and as a result of the play, miraculously, he escaped a caution and second yellow. Upon a replay it was revealed that the Swede was retaliating for Mings stepping on his head a few moments before. The next day the FA reviewed the play and Zlatan was given a three-match ban for violent conduct. For the optimists, it is the chance for Ibrahimovic to take a few days rest and recharge for the final push of the season and will be a solid chance for Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to lead the line.
When looking through the lenses of the optimistic fans the glass is always half-full and chances to improve will happen and eventually be taken. The remaining Premier League fixtures will provide chances for Manchester United to move up the table and hopefully land themselves in the important Champions League spots. While the optimism is flowing there is still the chance of winning the Europa League, meaning there are still two routes to cement their badge into the Champions League, where many believe it should be. While the 2nd option of climbing up the league table seems to be a tricky challenge, fans are still, clinging on, hoping for a run of results. The last time that United endured two draws and a loss, they then went on a run of eight wins. If that happens again the optimists will be certainly excited.
Optimism is not a bad thing to have after a few years of struggling lack-luster performances but like many things in life there is still another side to the coin. For every optimistic Manchester United fan you are bound to find a pessimistic one. With a few clicks on Twitter, or your favorite social media platform, you are bound to find a significantly less optimistic supporter. For these fans, enough is enough and 6th place is not where Manchester United belong. The club has simply drawn too many games that it should have won and now is facing the grave that it dug itself.
The pessimistic fans cringe every chance they see a team sheet, in fear that Jose is setting the team up for failure before the game begins. Right or wrong, complaints fly out about the winger options or who is playing at right-back. With as much stress and pressure that these fans place on the game, you would think they would spare themselves the trouble and simply watch it.
For pessimists, Luke Shaw, has no way back from the depths of Jose’s dungeon and he will be likely sold in the summer (Shaw did make a spot start against Bournemouth on March 4th). These fans are the ones that claim that Marouane Fellaini should not be wearing a United shirt, as it was a mistake that saw him purchased in the first place. Pessimistic fans write the games off before they even begin simply based on the team selections and looking at match-ups before they even play out.
Paul Pogba is a familiar target of the pessimistic fans, who suggest the player has not lived up to his hype, despite the face Jose Mourinho suggests, game-after-game that the Frenchman has been the best player on the pitch. While he may not be getting the goals and assists that the Red Devils are in need of, it is hard to deny that he is making a difference. Nonetheless, the pessimistic bunch are making their cases known.
While the perspective of these supporters is not wrong and at times, they are simply offering a realist vision of the current state of affairs, it can be difficult for the under-informed or new fans to find balance. Being a supporter of such a large club can be exhausting when even within a group of a team’s supporters there are a huge number of contrasting opinions.
While there are definitely two sides to Manchester United supporters this season. there is definitely more talk about regarding the club itself than in years past. They have a manager, in Jose Mourinho, who is not afraid to speak his mind, and world-class players, who have the ability to get people on their feet.
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