Were Manchester United unfairly targeted by the media this week?

Author: Doron

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As a United fan, anything I write about Liverpool is often judged before it’s read. Fans of both teams know what they want to see written and as such, I tend to write with caution so those that do actually take the time to read it will judge me for what I’ve written and not who I am. It’s therefore with a feeling of trepidation that I attempt to write some thoughts about the reaction to the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report; and in particular to the somewhat unfair or unnecessary targeting of Man United as a club in the immediate aftermath.

It goes without saying that Wednesday 12th September 2012 will go down as a dark and sad day in British history. A cover-up of gargantuan proportions was publicised and answers about the truths about the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989 were revealed. You don’t need to be a football fan, let alone a Liverpool fan to understand the importance of what was found. There is a human side to all of this where football becomes irrelevant – when families have to wait 23 years to find out what really happened when loved ones died, and were told lies during that time, it’s impossible not to feel pleased that they now have answers.

The attitude towards football and the footballing infrastructure at the time has leant towards the feeling that this could have happened to any set of supporters. It didn’t though, and while Wednesday was a day for football fans to unite, this time now is for the families – they deserve privacy and respect rather than attempts from fans and clubs to appear to be making the biggest statements. Things should now be in motion to start to bring justice to those who committed errors. The findings were long overdue and and whilst those connected to Liverpool will continue to be vocal, there is no need for someone who isn’t, like myself, who’s pleased with how it’s turned out and respected the admirable fight shown by the Independent Panel, to do so in what would be a faux manner.

What place do these thoughts have on a Man United blog?

Soon after the findings were made public, from certain corners of the press, there started some moralising. I’ve nothing against ‘putting things in perspective’ or wise words, but on a day that was all about Liverpool, and specifically justice for those who died, Man United had nothing to do with it. A quick Google search will indicate that various online versions of newspapers have run stories about United and Liverpool fans singing crude songs and the need for them to stop.

True enough, the chants on either side aren’t pleasant but they’re not mainstream and they’re not sung by the majority of football fans at either club. Whilst the point of the stories written is important, they are somewhat misguided and disappointingly reactive – simply looking to ‘score points’ with readers. The fact that it took for the results day of the inquiry for some journalists to write that the chants were unacceptable says it all. These kinds of stories get written at least once every season and are always reactionary. Is it not an important message to be spreading at all times of the season?

Clearly, Alex Ferguson agrees that the events of this week shouldn’t be used to treat the Liverpool-United relationship any differently. Talking at his Friday press conference, he said:

“It shouldn’t need what happened this week to change things [between United and Liverpool supporters]. Two great clubs, ourselves and Liverpool, should understand each other’s problems. The fact we’re playing them after the findings we’ve been reading about in the last few days does brings a focus to it. Both clubs have suffered such tremendous fatalities through football. Maybe it’s a line in the sand now in terms of how supporters behave towards each other. The reputation of both clubs doesn’t deserve trouble. You hope supporters of both teams support their club and that’s the end of it.”

The pleas of a few journalists will not change the thought processes of a few (drunk) idiots in the crowd, they never do. Chants about Munich and Heysel will be forever sung by small groups of people, if not the next time the two teams meet, then the time after. The high-horse reporting when it comes to chanting is well-trodden ground and arguably can do as much damage as good. Liverpool’s next home game is against United and before fans are even into the ground, press are speculating about what might happen, only fueling the fire.

This is of course not a club vs club issue and shouldn’t be. United have been unfairly dragged into something that was nothing to do with them. One could even argue that the most repugnant of fans to visit Old Trafford in recent years have been from Stoke, not Liverpool. Fans of many teams sing chants that could offend and yet it’s United’s supporters who’ve been singled out. If changes are needed within football then they’re not exclusive to the fans of Liverpool and United – it’s a wider issue.

Don’t misinterpret this either, I am not advocating the chants – merely I think it’s sad that not only have United and Liverpool fans been singled out, but that in the immediate aftermath of something as important and sensitive as the Hillsborough inquiry findings, Manchester United have been vociferously dragged into something that has little to do with them. Understandably, in the days before United travel to Liverpool (next week), both clubs (and it’s their responsibility) will no doubt put the right messages out to fans as they have done in recent years. However, don’t be surprised if songs about Liverpool are sung this weekend, as they always are.

Expect the press pack to be listening closely on the 20th October when Stoke fans visit Old Trafford with their arms spread as they mimic planes. You can bet that it’ll be overlooked because it just doesn’t make for a story. Moralising is fine but in the immediate days following the inquiry results, when people are at their most sensitive, turning this into a club vs club battle (which is what the said articles and comments by the press have done) is one of the more preposterous things that could have happened.

Justice for the 96 – hopefully the families can continue their fight to ensure that those in the wrong are brought to trial.

Any offensive comments by fans of any club will be deleted.

10 Comments on Were Manchester United unfairly targeted by the media this week?

  1. ‘The fact we’re playing them after the findings we’ve been reading about in the last few days does brings a focus to it.’

    Journalists are always going to report on topical issues. For any reader with a brain, I don’t think an article on the chants in the context of the club rivalry is likely to paint ALL United (or Liverpool) fans in a bad light.

    ‘Maybe it’s a line in the sand now in terms of how supporters behave towards each other.’

    Let’s hope so.

  2. Im a Liverpool fan and I think yes. I was a bit surprised at how much the two clubs were mentioned throughout all this – this is not about Liverpool and United, it is about what it is about – justice for grieving families, a cover up that is only to do with football in so much that it was at a football match.

    Talkshite even had a phone in about it – about United and Liverpool – on wednesday night! Horrible chancer bastards.

    Virtually every united fan I know and dont know – personally and online – has been extremely respectful over this and why should they not be. Every Liverpool fan I know is respectful to your club when it needs be. The media just have to sell papers, as if the subject matter were not enough on its own, eh?

    Im sure this will help the recent darkening of the bad blood, and we all appreciate how much the world seems to be behind us on this. The only vocal united fan ive seen being a dick, again, is scott the red with his #nevertheirfault hash tags and such. But, ive come to the conclusion that whilst hes a superb blogger, hes a twisted bitter old soul.

    This is not about our clubs, and i totally agree with your blog post.

  3. Great article. Spot on. The revelation made regarding Hillsborough disaster makes a difference if any, only to the family and friends of those who lost their lives. Anyone else claiming this revelation makes any difference to them are just looking for point scoring and nothig else. MUFC vs LFC has got nothing to do with it. As far as the journos are concerned, do they have any sort of credibility these days? No one with a piece of brian should give a fuck to what some journos say. Sadly, the piece of brain seems to be missing in fuck loads of people these days.

    Hope the families affected find closure.

    Roll on the next week, lets beat the fuck outta those bastards. Any MUFC supporter showing sympathy to LFC as a fan knows fuck all.

  4. The answer to your question is YES, Manchester United fans were unfairly targeted by the media in relation to the calls for the end of sick chanting in the wake of the Hillsborough panels findings. I am a Liverpool fan and do not miss a game home or away, Yes some fans of MUFC have taunted LFC fans with H’Boro chants, but the same can be said of some of our fans in relation to the Munich air disaster, and whatsmore its not only the MUFC fans who have chanted H’Boro taunts but fans of a host of other clubs including Chelsea, Millwall, Leeds, and even Everton. The Chelsea fans could not even bring themselves to respect a minutes silence at the FA Cup semi final this year chanting “murderers” and they were playing Spurs for f***s sake. Everyone knows the rivalry between our clubs but at the end of the day thats what happens when you have 2 richly successful teams who have won 37 titles and 8 European cups between them and are situated 30 miles apart. This weeks findings will not immediately repair the damage done by both sets of fans over the years, but hopefully it will make people realise that we do not have to behave like animals and put an end to the sick chants. And as a result if there is only 1% more good will shown to each other in future, then its a start.

  5. Personally – I’m a Liverpool fan, by the way – I think it’s the press trying to deflect attention away from themselves and the part THEY played in the cover up. They’re still trying to turn it into ‘just’ a football issue. They neglect to mention that Sir Alex was the first rival manager to phone Kenny Dalglish and offer whatever help he could and that he arranged for some supporters to travel to Anfield on that Sunday to lay a tribute.
    Make no mistake, Liverpool fans that know about that will never forget it.
    I live in Birmingham these days and, in terms of hatred, Man U/Liverpool has nothing on WBA/Wolves or Villa/Birm City – it’s like being stuck in the 70s here – but you don’t hear about it nationally, because… well, who the hell are they anyway? It doesn’t sell papers. Liverpool and Man Utd do.
    In my experience, with regard to Hillsborough, Man Utd, City, Everton, Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic, Rangers, ALL football supporters of opposition teams that I’ve met have been gracious and 100% supportive.
    All clubs have their share of d***heads attached – to our great shame, the whole world has seen some of the morons that have accessed Anfield in the past twelve months. Whilst I’m not particularly comfortable with the ‘hatred’ side of the Utd/Liverpool rivalry and I find the chanting distasteful, it would be a great shame if that rivalry was diluted in any way.
    Football is football and Shankly was wrong. It isn’t more important than life or death.
    As supporters, I would hope we still stand apart, but as human beings, we should always stand ‘united’ in times of adversity.
    As a sadly missed friend of mine, and Man Utd supporter, used to say –
    “Stay Alive”

  6. My brother made it out of Leppings Lane that day but his friend did not. We remember seeing scarves and shirts of all types placed at Anfield in the days shortly after. Many United fans made the trip. This touched me then, and it’s still appreciated to this day. There are always a few people (from all quarters of the country) who enjoy the type of chants being discussed here. Where there is rivalry the masses on one side feel justified in retaliating against the idiots on the other side. We fall back on our prejudices. Can Hillsborough and Munich chants be left in the past? Only if we concentrate on keeping our own houses in order.

  7. In the few years after Hillsborough, the Munich chants disappeared altogether. This was acknowledged by a ‘fingers-on-lips’ response from our United counterparts. Sadly, the chants have started to return in the last few years, as (sadly) too has a rowdy element of our away following (mainly when we are getting beat!!!).

    In my experience, the majority of the more distasteful singing happens well away from the grounds (unless you are at Chelsea or Millwall where they delight in performing their full repertoire). Whenever I go to OT, I never wear colours and (until recently) used to drink a few cans in the road between Lou Macari’s chippy and the pub(not sure the name of it). It was always here that some of the more moronic element tended to hang out and chant their bile, and hurl cans at the coaches. I even saw some skin from Northern Ireland pinballing his way down the road telling anyone who cared to listen how he was going to “kill a Scouser today”. Guess it’s a good job I kept shtum…!
    My point is, the songs will always be there, mainly fuelled by drink and bravado, but as soon as the fans are in the ground they tend to be a bit more sanitised. To really eradicate them, could the coppers not nick the nobs before they get in the grounds? Just a thought…

    RIP the 96, and the 39 (before someone mentions it).

  8. Im a manc, but a big liverpool fan season ticket for 14 years, gave it back 2 years ago. In 14 years i never heard a song about munich at Anfield, and i dont even know the words, however i did see the arms out wide from our fans near the away end. In Istanbul 2005, 3 young fans, who were drunk were singing a munich song, about 5 scousers and me rounded on them and told them to shut it. In 2010 i went to my last Liverpool v Utd game at old trafford, I vowed never to return, i was in hospitality and for the full game below me, there was non stop singing, murderers and kill your own fans, it made me feel sick and angry, my UTD mate i was with was embarrassed and shocked. Ive stopped going to local pub to watch football as some of the local lads who also singing the songs, if liverpool were playing or even when they were not, i now only watch the games at home on Sky. Ive got other examples, some friends of mine have mentioned the odd thing over the years, i also asked them if they read the Taylor report, they obviosuly had not, to be fair every time they apologised.

    There are horrible, great, ok, people from Manchester and Liverpool, people are people and to mock the dead from Munich or 89, is just sick – how would they feel if it was thier son/daughter/dad/mum, it doesnt bear thinking about.

    I live in a great City, Manchester is one of the best,they have had the best football team, and played great Football for the last 20 years – unfortunatley we have some morons, just like Liverpool – im going next weekend, i have to, and i just know that the fans will not be singing the disgusting songs, or holding thier arms out. The way the UTD fans have been this week has been outstanding, akin to the quality of thier football lets make sure we all keep it up.

  9. i can still remember the chants in the united road from lfc supporters in the 70,s early 80,s,then it went away after hillsborough/heysel.it is perfectly understandible for these events to make people stand up and actually think about the larger ramifications of these horrendous times in the history of our great game,recently the derby game with city at O.T on the 50th anniversary of munich was beautifully observed by the vast majority of blues fans,very emotional moments like these give us hope for the future of the game and hopefully this will be reflected next week at anfield,then again like has been said before some drunken inbreed will shout his alcohol fueled hatred at either supporters,let us just hope that silence that was ot o.t that day of the derby can be observed next week.i watched that semi final in 89 and was shocked to the core as indeed was the heysel tragedy,also the bradford fire.families,loved ones will never ever be reunited with their beloved from these terrible tragedies,let us hope we can shock again and mourn with dignity next week.35 years born and bred red/genuine football fan.

  10. Some great points above.The media will look for angles this week for sure- but it’s at the home grounds where I think the action can be led.I’m sorry to say I’ve heard some grubby chants at Anfield & OT from home supporters.. and just throwing Leeds & Stoke into the mix as well.The other home fans can see what seat numbers they’re in + it’s all on CCTV. Shop them & if they’re not banned go public on it.Re : United specifically I’ve also seen it from ‘corporate seats’, so it’s not always regulars/locals.
    Also sing louder !!! Drown the muppets out- & back each other up when reporting to stewards or authorities.. great thread to bring it out in the open. Thanks

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