All of the time: If the Kids Are United
I was not in a very good state before Saturday’s game, thanks to a stinking case of man-flu.
My coat pocket resembled the shelves of a budget pharmacy; all own-brand sinus-congestion-relief tablets, paracetamol, nasal inhalers and tissues.
A sickling immune system was the last thing I needed to try and feel upbeat as Palace attempted to end the Red Devils' 12-year unbeaten run at Old Trafford against newly promoted teams.
Then there was the fact I was at the back of a crowded pub with a pillar blocking half of my view.
Not to mention the truly sickening realisation that in the bar - in Croydon and owned by Palace fans - a large proportion of the crowd were sincerely cheering Rooney et al.
Perhaps I’d somewhat naïvely thought the amount of London-born United fans was a bit of an exaggerated cliché - or at the very least they’d treat their geographically-idiotic support as the shameful secret it should be.
But no, one attendee even took his coat off to boldly reveal a United shirt. Do these people have no shame?
The one thing that would have improved my mood would have been a fair game and a proud performance.
While we got a heartening effort as usual, the day was tarred by injustices.
Firstly, Patrice Evra feigning injury with Palace in possession, only to get back up immediately after the ball was sportingly knocked off the pitch.
Then there’s Ashley Young, who’s simply a disgrace.
If you’re going to dive at least do it convincingly. His simulation – which righteously earned him a yellow card – displayed the subtlety and grace of a blind-drunk ballerina.
Sadly, Young was involved in the couple of minutes which ended the game for Palace. After some promising resilience from the Eagles it looked like we’d go into half time at 0-0, then Young clashed with KG again. Penalty and a red card, game over.
In slow-motion replays the contact clearly began outside the box.
Nevertheless, down to 10 men at half time against the English champions is usually pretext to a heavy drubbing. So a respectable 2-0 defeat is bearable.
It’s just infuriating that things had to be ended so early and in such debateable circumstances.
All in all, a combination of the brazen United fans in the pub, the cheating and the refereeing decisions meant I felt much more ill by Saturday afternoon.
The sniffles had been replaced with full-on fever and nausea. And I mean that only half-metaphorically.
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