Football has seldom looked less like the enjoyable pastime I fell in love with as a youngster. In the past few weeks, the overblown, hate-filled events encrusting the English game have made for very unpleasant viewing.
Almost nobody has conducted themselves with dignity or class in any of the major scandals engulfing some of our more visual protagonists. The whole scenario is a sorry and sad one.
Even so, Liverpool Football Club have earned special mention for their appalling conduct and ideology throughout the last few months. Kenny Dalglish proved himself to be a human being of great dignity and compassion in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster. In recent weeks he has undone much of that good work. It is a great shame he has chosen to damage his reputation so horrifically.
There are a growing number of Liverpool fans who feel extremely uncomfortable with the way the club and its players have conducted themselves around Suarez’s racism conviction. One wonders if Liverpool’s commercial sponsorship will suffer as a result of endorsing the Uruguayan’s racist and inflammatory behaviour.
In the midst of all this, Manchester United have also been playing football. So far 2012 has dealt us an incredibly difficult hand. Despite facing Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool twice already in this young year we start February 12th at the top of the league.
Whilst the spotlight has been shining firmly on John Terry’s humanitarianism and the latest England manager’s departure Wayne Rooney has quietly scored four goals in a week. In addition, Hernandez has found his touch again and a few of our absentees are making their ways back from injury.
From a football perspective United are looking in ruder and ruder health. It seems such a shame that we are seemingly unable to enjoy the fact that our team are playing well.
Thank goodness Liverpool are out of the way and we cannot meet them again this season. Patrice Evra’s celebration at the final whistle was ill advised and as Fergie said, “he shouldn’t have done that.” Many, I suspect, will understand the enormous provocation he has been subjected to.
From here on in I hope to be able to enjoy the matches, not recriminations. This young Manchester United team is building character the hard way, it will stand us in good stead I am sure.
Personally, I am really looking forward to the Ajax matches.
Come on you Reds.
Follow Mark on twitter.com/markjpayne