I bet you had hardly expected to find a Manchester United fan born and raised in Barcelona (Spain) here, but this is exactly what I am. Following the last season’s 6-1 shocking defeat against the other team of the city at Old Trafford, I decided to reaffirm my commitment with United by creating The Red Insider, the first and only English-speaking and Barcelona-based Manchester United Internet blog run my a Spanish supporter straight from the heart of the enemy, as F.C. Barcelona is my nemesis. As a matter of interest, my favorite United’s moment ever is injury time Federico Macheda’s stunning goal to Aston Villa. I guess you know what I mean…
I felt in love with the English Premier League and Manchester United in the early 90s (Eric Cantona is the one to blame) when I regularly started watching English football on television at early 90′s, the golden era of the Premier League as far as I am concerned. The influence of foreign managers and players was tiny at that time, so that the majority of teams approached the game in a very British fashion, that is to say predominantly attacking-minded and the original values of the English remained unalterable.
A terrific Manchester United side was blossoming with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm; the likes of Eric “The King” Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Peter Schmeichel, Mark Hugues and company were a joy to watch and United were starting to forge their legend. In addition to their remarkable technical skills, that team played with their heart and this generation was recognizable by their characteristic never-say-never attitude.
Strange as it may seem, it was not a win that made me want to be part of that team. The final day of the 1994/95 season, the Red Devils were unable to capitalize a 2-1 defeat from Blackburn Rovers at Anfield Road and blew their chances of retaining the championship by drawing 1-1 at Upton Park, following a string of failed chances and fine saves by West Ham’s goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko (a name which I will never be able to forget).
To make things even worse, a week later Manchester United also conceded the FA Cup to Everton following a shocking 1-0 defeat at Wembley. As a result, a likely double suddenly became a double nothing. But every cloud has a silver lining and those seven days of brutal fatality made me realize that I was meant to support them and Manchester United were worth to be supported by me. Since then my interest for the club has grown season after season.
In all honesty, there aren’t many Spanish Manchester United supporters in Barcelona. Apart from me and my parents, I have never personally met any other fellow Spaniard fan. However, I feel privileged to be a member of the largest family in the world: the United family, estimated at over 659 million (and counting) of devoted human beings all around the world.
I can imagine that I feel the same as any other supporter, regardless where he or she was born or raised. Nonetheless, the mere fact of supporting a football club who almost nobody cares about in your area, gives you a sense of individuality that makes the whole thing even more exciting. This special approach is what The Red Insider is aiming at conveying to United fans.
It ain’t a big issue staying tuned with what’s going at Old Trafford. As you well know Facebook & Twitter addicts, Internet has dramatically helped to shorten distances and the increasing popularity of the English Premier League means that the vast majority of Manchester United matches are shown live on any of the Spanish televisions channels owning such coveted rights.
In overall terms, Spanish media do not pay much attention to the world′s most popular sport club, they basically care about the two Spanish giants, namely Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona (in this order), and sporadically about any other team doing something remarkable, either in a good or in a bad way. Just out of your curiosity, I support the historic and emblematic Athletic Bilbao on a local basis.
The first match I lived there was the derby between the archrivals of Manchester back in 2007. Funnily enough, Owen Hargreaves made his bow for United and Carlos Tévez failed to convert a late chance, unfortunately their efforts were not enough to prevent their former employees from losing the match by 1-0. Luckily, I have much better memories than that from one of my Barcelona’s favorite places.
Having reached this point, you might wonder why I do not support F.C. Barcelona, especially considering their magnitude and international status. Nonetheless, I was never tempted by them. Barcelona’s style of play, the so-called “Tiki-taka” never appealed me. In contrast I love United’s straightforward approach, in my opinion nothing can match two wingers running down the flanks and constantly threatening their opponents.
As you can easily imagine, losing two Champions League final to them was a nightmare, but such a massive disappointment intensified my feelings towards the most decorated club of Manchester. I dream about the day United avenge for that humiliating defeats and show what the real Manchester United are made of. I know that this day will arrive sooner rather than later, trust me mates.