When I was nine years old, I made a friend from the U.K named Thomas. He had come from Manchester to live in the small town I’m from in Canada and brought his passion for football with him. Ever since I can remember, we would wake up early every single weekend to watch the Manchester United games. It has always been of my dream of mine to not only visit the Theatre of Dreams, but to be able to go with my mate who sparked my love of the beautiful game. This past weekend I was lucky enough to check this off my bucket list.
The day began with me & Thomas meeting at York train station to begin our trip to Manchester. The two-hour train ride gave us ample time to reminisce about old memories and talk about making new ones. There was a group of Leeds United supporters sitting across from us that we had a friendly back and forth with which helped contribute to the bubbling atmosphere of the day. After arriving in Manchester, we had just enough time to go to a local pub to have a pint, something I’m told is tradition. We made some friends at the pub who were also attending the game and decided we would all take the tram together. We got off the tram, made our way down Sir Matt Busby Way, and we were finally there. We had arrived at the stadium of my dreams, The Theatre of Dreams. Before finding our seats, we decided to look in the Manchester United Megastore, but collectively felt that ninety pounds was a bit too steep for this year’s kit and opted to keep wearing the ones we already had on. After finishing our pre-match pies, we sat down around 10 minutes before kick-off and began singing the songs. From viva Ronaldo to United are the team for me, the crowd was in full force awaiting kick-off.
The game started just how we had hoped: United held all the possession, the attack was fluid, and Bruno Fernandes & Paul Pogba were dominating the midfield. Jadon Sancho, Manchester United’s uncontested man of the match sent Ronaldo through in the early minutes. Ronaldo took it around the keeper and had a clear shot but was unable to generate enough power and was cleared off to the line. Around the twenty-minute mark United were able to get on the scoresheet through beautiful link up play between Bruno and Marcus Rashford, which then saw Rashford cross it to Sancho for an easy tap in. Unfortunately, and keeping with recent performances, United became complacent. Instead of killing the game in the first half, they allowed Southampton to regain possession and go into half-time with all the momentum, despite being down 1-0. Southampton took this momentum and capitalized in the early stages of the second half. Che Adams scored a brilliant, finessed finish that just crept in off the post. Before all the fans had even returned to their seats, the game and the atmosphere had both changed. The small pocket of Saints fans sang songs that echoed through a subdued and quiet Old-Trafford.
From this point on the game had lost its magic. Ronaldo put forward another aging performance that saw him extend his goalless drought to six in a row. Manchester United manager Ralf Ragnick struggles continued, as this was the fourth time in six games United failed to secure three points after winning at halftime. Despite one extra-time headed attempt from Harry Maguire, the fast-paced fluidity of the first half was nowhere to be seen. When the final whistle blew, Old Trafford exploded with roaring boos, as the sentiment of different day same result rang true.
When I took off my united kit, I realised that it was an amazing day despite the result. It was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with a great friend of mine and explore a new city. For anyone who has never been to a football match before in England, I highly recommend it. I would suggest however picking a team that isn’t Manchester United, as I do not wish this suffering upon even my worst enemy.