What a day, what a game.
In my previous article I said that I didn’t apply for the United game as I wanted to go to the Test event at our new stadium, unfortunately that was on the same day. Then they cancelled the Test event, and I was left up the creek without a paddle. At the Fulham home game, I mentioned to a friend about my misfortune and he said he couldn’t go so I was welcome to buy his ticket off him. He only charged face value. Sorted. I was going after all. But I won’t be making the same mistake again.
I had booked a hotel about 2 miles from the stadium.
My trip to Old Trafford started the previous day. I left my home at 3pm and went to stay with my girlfriend, who lives in Stratford, London, and stayed the night. We, as Hanna came with me, left early the next morning and arrived at the hotel at 1.30 pm. Hung around until we could book in at 3pm and then made our way to the stadium.
Because we were early we visited the Lowry museum, which was opposite – but across the river – from the BBC’s Manchester studios – which had some great L.S. Lowry paintings (we are a fan of his paintings). He came from Manchester. When we finished there, we went for a great meal at the French restaurant Café Rouge at the Lowry centre, that meal included a bottle of wine. After the three-course meal we had a look around and then made our way to the stadium. Which wasn’t that far.
Manchester United was formed in 1878 and was originally called Newton Heath. Newton Heath initially played on a field on North Road. In June 1893, the club was evicted from North Road by its owners. In February 1909, six weeks before the club’s first FA Cup title, Old Trafford was named as the home of Manchester United.
We had a look around and then Hanna went back to the hotel, she isn’t a football fan. I went around the outside taking photos and then went in. Got to my seat an hour before KO and enjoyed the banter with the rest of the supporters.
My thoughts on the game before the match were that I expected United to come out firing with all guns ablaze. They were at home and I presumed wanted something to prove after their defeat by Brighton the previous week. This was both our third match. United’s neighbour’s City was held to a draw a couple of days earlier by newly promoted Wolves. Whoever would win would be making a very powerful statement, a draw was in no man’s land and no good for both of us.
The players came out and both sets of fans stood and applauded. I predicted a 2-1 win, but I thought we would be in for a battle.
In the first half United was left to rue Romelu Lukaku’s missed chance when he rounded our keeper Hugo Lloris from Danny Rose’s backpass. In the first half, our hearts were in our mouths. You could say that United just edged it.
The whistle was blown, and we made our way for some refreshments. Back to our seats for the second half.
While waiting for the second half whistle, I managed to relax and look around the stadium. Even though it has the biggest capacity in the Premier League (74,994) it wasn’t that impressive. No big screens, as other clubs have and only the size was something positive one could say out about the stadium. Personally, I think it needs a makeover.
Our new stadium – which might not have United’s capacity – will be very much a stadium of the 21st century (with all the amenities). United’s stadium is very much a product of the 20th century, but nothing special. Anyway, that isn’t our problem, so back to the second half.
We were just too good for United after the break and the contest was effectively over once Kane directed in a superb header for his first goal at Old Trafford after 50 minutes and Moura swiftly swept home Christian Eriksen’s perfect pass for the second. The outstanding Moura raced clear to add the third six minutes from time to make it nine points from nine for Spurs. It was over, bar all the shouting and singing. We were ecstatic.
Mourinho looked dejected figure amid a sea of empty red seats at the final whistle, having lost two of his opening three Premier League games for the first time in his career.
The Tottenham fans were singing that he will be sacked in the morning, not quite, but for us to win at Old Trafford says something about our intent, and their wilting hopes. The match conference, after the game, showed Mourinho’s anger as he threw his rattle out of the pram. How long will he last? That depends on how far he takes them further down the league table.
Our manager Mr Mauricio Pochettino, in contrast, was able to celebrate his first victory as Spurs manager at Old Trafford after four straight losses without scoring a goal.
When the whistle had gone our players and Pochettino came to our end to applaud us, we in return gave him a standing ovation, even though we were already standing (quite a feat I can tell you☺)
After the match, I had to walk back to my hotel and the excitement within me was thumbing away, the half-hour walk gave me that extra momentum to actually make it (arthritis plays an important role, I can tell you, when walking such a distance, gym work only goes so far and the rest is pain driven).
Back to the hotel and Hanna said: “you must be a very pleased with yourself?” Which I was. Even though she doesn’t like football, I did manage to put an app on her phone that gave out our results☺).
To bed and an early start in the morning.
Got up and had a continental breakfast and then to our journey back.
My thoughts on Manchester as a whole: a city that is having a lot of work done to it, and has had a lot of work to it. It is building for the future. The BBC & ITV both have moved part of their organisation there. If we had plenty more time we would have enjoyed an extended visit.
There is so much to see and do. As a travelling fan, we only get glimpses of the stadium’s surroundings and area. The same applied when I visited Real Madrid, Dortmund and Juventus last season.
After dropping Hanna off at Park Royal (she took a tube home) I managed to get to my daughter’s to pick up Gilly (my dog) and get home by 4.30.
When you win and at the same time have a long journey the distance doesn’t seem that long, but lose, and it can be very torturous.
One other note, which might sound a bit nitpicking (and, yes, it is), their outsized programmes can be very annoying when you are collecting programmes and fitting them with your more normal sized ones (which obviously you can’t do). Their programmes never used to be like that.
We ended that week in Second place, behind Liverpool, but on goal difference. Capacity was 74,400.
Before the kick off I spoke to a couple of United supporters, but from Brighton, and they told me that the way they – United, not the supporters – were playing they couldn’t see them beating us.
But what matters is that we won and won convincingly. Our next match will be against another team that is currently in the top four of the league, Watford. They also have a 100% record and are only below us on goal difference.
In fact, only four teams have 100% record: Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea and Watford. Our next match after Watford will be Liverpool, at Wembley.
As I said, a great day and a great all around trip. More on the next one.
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