One of those poor souls who was held hostage in the Middle East for several years was asked upon his release, “How did you cope?” To which he replied: “After five years in a British public school, it really wasn’t all that bad.” This is the kind of stoic attitude I will need to adopt over the coming months. To be sure, there can be no crueller way to lose a championship than the manner fate cooked up for us on Sunday. Nonetheless, after a couple of decades of Liverpool dominance at the end of the last century, we should be able to survive this.
It pays to be dignified in defeat; however, it is hard to say you have lost to a superior opponent when the margins are so tight. Whilst every United fan I know is willing to admit City’s starting XI is a tremendous collection of players, they have won the league largely because we took our eye off the ball against Everton.
Even so, I offer my congratulations to Mancini and his players, and to my blue-nosed neighbours as well. The league table does not lie and you are worthy champions.
But that is done now. My disappointment is not with Joey Barton, nor with the last ten minutes against the Toffees even. Instead, I rather naively thought we might try to really skewer Sunderland. If we had gone for a record score-line then we might just have got it. The thing that has damaged me the most is my own sense of hope - as a United fan though, that is something I will never lose.
There are still a huge number of positives to take from this season, and Manchester United will never die, and Manchester United will be back. A full season review will follow shortly. However, in the words of Greta Garbo, for now “I want to be alone.”
Follow Mark on twitter.com/markjpayne