Manchester United’s London Support: Entitlement Oriented?

As our readers are aware, I was in the United Kingdom the past few days and got an opportunity to take in as much of the football culture as I possibly could (although American Football coming to London affected it somewhat- more on that later this week.)

With Liverpool-Manchester United taking place, the ultimate derby in English football, I could scarcely think of a better weekend to be in London.

I had arrived from India, where only two sides have serious followings: Manchester United and Liverpool. Thus, I had heard plenty of hype about this match up during the week preceding my arrival.

I was greeted by an immigration agent at Heathrow T5 that was knowledgeable but was a Man United fan. Of course this gentleman was from London. The closest Football League club to Heathrow Airport, I believe is Brentford FC which plays in Hounslow, while the closest Premier League club, I believe is Fulham. It is possible QPR is closer to certain neighborhoods surrounding Heathrow than Brentford, but I have always thought of Brentford (whose board includes American Jeff Cooper of St Louis United, who attempted to buy USL and bring MLS to St Louis) s the local side in the area of the world’s second busiest airport.

Sunday, was gameday in London. The street were filled with people wearing the AIG jersey. While it was fashionable for Londoners to support Liverpool in the 1980s, which was a lamentable era in English football and to a large extent in British society, today United is the fashionable London side.

The fact that this match was being held at Anfield, was reflected at Paddington Station and Kings Cross in the early morning and late evening. A sea of United kits were seen at both stations and undoubtedly in the London pubs.

Even with Arsenal playing West Ham, on Sunday, more United kits were seen by this observer around London. After the match, talk sport was filled with United supporting callers all from outside Manchester (the majority were from London, Kent or Sussex), that either said the referee had cost United the match, or that United had the worst team the club has had in twenty years.

Among the dozens of United supporting calls, not one caller gave Liverpool credit for the victory, not did one caller even break down the match in what can be considered intelligent tactical analysis of the match. No United caller singled out any Liverpool player for a good performance nor gave Rafa Benetiz credit for yet another victory of Sir Alex Ferguson.

What I determined was that United fans, particularly outside of Manchester tend to be immature and have an incredible sense of entitlement. They have chosen to support United, largely because they are front runners than out of any sense of duty to a football club or other traditional considerations. Liverpool benefited from much of the same type of support throughout the 1970s and 1980s in the capitol.

Three straight loses to hated rival Liverpool is not acceptable, so instead the one-sided match must be the fault of either the officials, or some other outside force.

While on the Bakerloo line of the Underground from Paddington to Piccadilly Circus Sunday evening, a Spanish youngster asked me who had won the match. Why he asked me was odd, since several other people were on the train. When I told him Liverpool and Torres had scored he did a bunch of high fives with his friends. Rafa Benetiz, is a respected and even revered figure in parts of Spain. While the English press may have forgot that this week  with the constant discussion of an imminent sacking, neutral Spanish fans whose focus is La Liga, I am reminded have a soft spot these days for LFC and Rafa.

These topics are discussed in greater detail on our EPL Talk Matchday Ten review show which was recorded live from London hours after the conclusion of the West Ham-Arsenal match from Upton Park.