I realise to some of you, that might seem like a daft question, but I don’t think it is. I know the simple assumption, particularly in the media, is that because United are an english club, all of it’s fans must be England supporters. However I know this is not true!
I remember during the pre-match entertainment for Alan Shearer’s Testimonial there was some sort of competition, might have been a penalty shoot-out or something, and the guy on the mike was saying “Newcastle fans cheer for the english lad and Celtic fans cheer for the scottish lad” – and I remember thinking “it’s not that simple mate!”
For a start, there are a lot of fans come down to the match from Scotland. I remember having a drink with some Hibs casuals when I was working in Edinburgh and they explained that there were a lot of Newcastle fans in the Edinburgh area – who started supporting the Toon as their “English Club” because it was the first stop down the east coast line! And it’s not just from Edinburgh either, there are United fans all over Scotland, even if it’s their “second team”.
A quick check of Newcastle Airport at certain times will also confirm that there is a sizeable contingent of United fans who regularly fly in for home games from Ireland – then straight back for the home flight after the game!
I also think there are a number of English born United fans who are totally disaffected or couldn’t give a monkeys about supporting England for various reasons. The likes of Terry, Rooney, Ferdinand, Gerrard etc have all been in the media for the wrong reasons at times and are hardly role models who encourage folk to support them. Then there’s Ashley Cole and his alleged treatment of “Wor Cheryl”.
Add to that the suspicion that for a north east player to get into the England team they have to be a world beater, whereas if they played for a London club they’d be a shoe-in. If Steven Taylor played for Tottenham or West Spam would he have more caps? I think so. And in the last few days of course, there’s the treatment of Fraser Forster. Fraser had hoped to land a Euro 2012 call-up when Norwich City keeper and ex-Motherwell ace John Ruddy had to pull out after suffering a broken finger in training. But new England coach Roy Hodgson opted to call up 19-year-old Jack Butland, who spent most of last term farmed out to League Two minnows Cheltenham and hasn’t played a single first-team game for parent club Birmingham.
Compared with this kid, the 24-year-old United keeper has made 90 appearances, including in the Champions League, in a 2 season loan spell at Scottish champions, Celtic, keeping 24 clean sheets in 44 matches.
Then of course there’s the french connection! Cabaye and Ben Arfa are two gifted United players who have been selected for France in the Euros. How many United fans might just want to see France turn over England if those two got on the score sheet? Personally, as an english-born supporter of the Republic Of Ireland, I can’t bring myself to support France after “Handball Henry’s” blatant double hand ball cost us our place in the World Cup!
Naturally, just to put things in perspective, I think it’s safe to assume that most United fans are indeed England supporters. However, how do you feel about England? Comments welcome below.