Football can be a force for good and a force for bad and we saw both sides last night in Stockholm.
In the pre-match line up there was respect for the City of Manchester – a football coming together with the two teams, United and Ajax, arms linked and heads bowed in a mark of respect to the 22 people who died in the Arena on Sunday.
In the dressing room celebrations, we saw united players making foul and derogatory comments about Manchester City. You will have seen the first on television and the second on twitter.
Manchester United stars slammed after singing ‘City f**k off home’ in dressing room after Europa League win
Maybe I am being a little harsh and criticising United players in their moment of victory with champagne flowing from the trophy is a little unfair.
You will all reach your own conclusions.
On the one hand, football is about winning and when you have played so many matches to reach the Final and then won 2-0 you do go a little stir crazy.
But was last night in Stockholm different because of the bomb in the Arena and different because of the pre-match mark of respect paid to the City of Manchester by the world of football led by the Dutch supporters from Ajax and the UEFA hierarchy
Was even victory an occasion to suspend normal celebration or was that too much to ask of young players who were focused on winning the Cup as much as they were focused on the tragedy of 22 Mancunians whose lives were so viciously cut short.
I would have much preferred that the United management had cautioned their players against vulgar and provocative celebration – or was that course of action not taken because United wanted to enjoy the moment as a trigger for future success? Slagging off Man City fans on the very day Manchester was the focus of feeling for everyone at the game suggests that football again struggles to give a lead to Communities.
It is not always like that and we have all been moved when there is a minute’s pre-match silence for the death of a favourite – Rocky for example.
Large numbers respecting the departed, remembering his achievements. It is a special silence.
Maybe United should have reined it in. After all, this is the Club of Munich when in 1958 not just Manchester but the whole country stopped to respect the victims of that terrible air crash especially Arsenal fans whose team just the previous Saturday had lost 4-5 to the Busby Babes. Many of whom died the following Thursday including the half back line of Coleman, Jones and Edwards (his death delayed by a prolonged but unsuccessful fight for life)
Just a comment about the Cup Final – are you feeling a little down knowing that Gabriel, Mustafi and Koscielny are all likely to be unavailable.
We do want to win – we are not going to Wembley to see CFC do the Double. We want a win/need a win, we want success and yet an understandable miss-judgment by Koscielny and an unlucky tackle by Gabriel, coupled with an injury to Mustafi may deprive us of three key players. Asking Mertesacker to play his first match in a long time is heaping pressure on him but if Holding and Monreal flank him in the back three it might work and we are due a slice of luck although some will say we had it in the semi-final v City.
Hoping for the best but braced for the worst.
Win or loose expect Arsenal Players to act with Class!
My name is Graham Perry and I have been a lifelong Arsenal supporter since 1952 when I saw the ten men in red shirts hold out heroically until the 84th minute at Wembley.
The Arsenal thing was confirmed by a meeting with Alex James during Easter 1953. As with most of us it is a family thing with my father always waxing eloquent about the Chapman years.
I am married with four children and five grandchildren. I have been a solicitor in a legal aid practice and have just stepped down after 13 years as an Immigration Judge.
Arsenal is in the blood. The goals and the excitement matter but so does the Community thing and sharing Arsenal with friends and family over so many years.
Want nothing more than to see Wenger hold aloft the Premier League Trophy again.