To say that international football is less important than domestic football for Manchester United supporters is a brutal understatement. If there’s something that Red Devils faithful fear more than Steven Gerrard kissing a camera after scoring a goal at The Theater of Dreams, this must be a weekend without a proper match of their venerated team.
‘United over England’ is something most Mancunians tend to proudly sustain, something which raises some eyebrows in some quarters abroad. The reason behind this assertion, according to them, is the lack of respect shown by The Football Association towards the most decorated club in the country in a number of occasions. To name a few, a 8-month ban to Rio Ferdinand for missing a drug test in September 2003 (testers played their part according to the 33-year-old centre back), a 4-match ban to Patrice Evra for (allegedly) confronting the Stamford Bridge groundsman in May 2008 and a 2-match ban to Wayne Rooney for swearing (apparently no other player had done it before) in front of a camera at Upton Park in April 2010.
These circumstances do not necessarily mean English United fans do not enjoy cheering on their national team, but there’s a widespread feeling that they would rather win the 20th Premier League championship than the 2nd World Cup in Brazil 2014. This is particularly remarkable in a moment in time when United boast as many as seven regular English senior international players -namely Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling- and three more members of the Under-21 English team -namely Ben Amos, Nick Powell and William Keane-, something speaking volumes about how important is currently Manchester United for The Three Lions. This sentiment is not isolated within the 600-milion strong Manchester United contingent all around the globe.
When internationals disrupt “what really matter” for them, Internet social networks, blogs and forums are filled with hundreds of comments pointing towards that direction. Albeit not everything is doom and gloom for The Red Devils fans. The odd game from the Reserves or any other Academy United team can help to make the pain a tad more bearable, regardless if you are a Stretford End season ticket holder or a fan from Kathmandu, Johannesburg or Melbourne.