Published: 12 Jan 2001
A GLORIOUS ADVENTURE?
"Manchester United today announced that they have appointed Eric Cantona as manager, to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when he leaves in May, 2002."
Words that will quicken the pulse of romantics like myself and have the more pragmatic amongst us chewing their nails down to the knuckles. "What a glorious adventure" I said yesterday. And, of course, adventures are by their very nature, risky endeavours.
Let's allow our imagination to run away with us for a few minutes. Let's imagine that a miracle has happened - United's money men have taken their collective eye off the till receipts for a second and gone for the dream. In the packed news conference, Eric is flanked by Peter Kenyon and Sir Alex Ferguson. Imperiously gazing around the room at the lesser beings hanging on his every word, he talks of the beautiful game, the magical adventure to come. At his feet, the lads who learnt their craft under the master, await his instructions, knowing that this is their opportunity to take their football onto another level, to become the great players that Le Roi knows they can be.
A few weeks later we turn up at Old Trafford for the first home game of the season. Our hearts a flutter, butterflies in the stomach, you can cut the electricity in the air with a knife. When was the last time we arrived at Old Trafford feeling like this? It's like being a kid again, all around us adults' eyes shine like children on Christmas morning. Weeks later, we are in heaven. Game after game watching a team moulded in Cantona's image, living the dream on a glorious roller coaster ride of sublime football.
Of course this may be all romantic nonsense and we are just as likely to be mouldering away at the bottom of the Premiership at the behest of an inexperienced manager who just wasn't up to the job. Aren't we? Even if you really believe this could happen (and I don't), wouldn't it have been worth it for the chance of the glory that could have been? For the magic that even failure would bring (for with Eric as manager, even failure would be glorious!). Because isn't that magic, the following of a dream, what Manchester United is all about - has always been about? Supporting United has never been anything but a glorious adventure. And would we have it any different? Would any of us seriously consider swapping that heart-stopping two minutes in Barcelona for a boring two-one win by the middle of the second half? Wasn't it the drama of the victory that made it so memorable, so special? Is there a United fan alive, whose heart doesn't miss a beat at the mere thought of the romance and magic of those fateful 10 days in May?
I didn't actually choose to support United - I don't remember ever being offered a choice! But I'm sure that if I had, I would have been a United fan anyway because, from the Babes to Barcelona, there has always been something magical about Manchester United. There has always been something of the adventurer about the club, some indefinable something that would have appealed to my romantic and emotional nature. I can't believe that I would have chosen the journeymen in blue before the heroes in flame red. And I honestly can't believe that there is a true Red heart that isn't stirred by the thought of the team that Le Dieu would build.
It may never happen, but it's a wonderful dream .............. isn't it?
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