STAFF OPINION: Manchester United: The theatre of pain

By Aidan Hyde | December 6, 2023 10:00am

Photo courtesy of Aidan Hyde.

First, let me tell you that being a United fan is rewarding, yet heartbreaking. Each weekend my heart races with excitement to watch the Red Devils play. Each goal we score is like a shot of serotonin and each goal we concede feels like a bullet straight through my heart. In recent years, I have been shattered by bullets. 

I first started supporting United when I was a kid. My dad, also a United supporter, grew up in Northern Ireland and most of his family supports United as well. Every weekend, my dad and I would wake up in the early morning to watch them play. He would show me videos of players on United that he grew up watching: George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes just to name a few. 

I owe much of my love for United to my dad. I became enchanted by the football they played and the history of the club. They always played with such anger, passion and fire. Most importantly, they never ever gave up.

I will never forget watching Manchester United win the 2013 Premier League title. However, I will also never forget watching United’s rivals Manchester City win the Premier League title in 2012. When I saw City lift the trophy, my blood boiled. It must have been the devil inside me. I burned with hate and anger. I realized then that I was born into a beautiful legacy of passion, fun and, above all else, winning. 

Most sports fans will understand what it means to love a team. You support them, win, lose or tie. At Manchester United, this is what we do, but there is no room for excuses. Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from managing United in 2013, I have watched them rise to heaven. I don’t see the fiery passion there once was. There is no more beauty when I watch them play. I see a deflated, flat and disconnected group of footballers with no standards. 

Who am I to judge? Frankly, I could care less about the players individually. I care how much they fight for the badge. I dream of a captain who doesn’t complain and would give his life without question for every single one of United’s players, fans, coaches or staff. I would be willing to lay down my life for Manchester United and that is what it takes to win. The current players don’t seem willing. The current manager, Erik Ten Hag, doesn’t seem willing either. I watch press conferences after losses and all I hear is excuse after excuse.

I miss the strictness of the old days. Sir Alex Ferguson did not tolerate any lateness, complaining or lack of effort. He also protected his players from the attention of the media and didn’t stand for dressing room feuds or antics between players. These are all things that the current United squad is hurting from. 

There have been large media scandals that have shaken the core of the team. There have been sexual abuse allegations, petty arguments between players, feuds between players and managers, wage complaints and the list goes on. United’s focus has never been around money or fame, but due to the carelessness of their American owners, The Glazers, the club has become riddled with controversy and debt

United needs to heal, and in order for the process to start, the owners must sell the club. Players performing under par must be sold or dropped to the bench. Sixteen year olds need to start for United again. Youth, energy and passion must be prioritized over the lackluster efforts of star players. I don’t care if they are on $400,000 or $10,000 a week, I would play for free if I could because I love Manchester United. 

The players must find what they love about United. They need to discover their identity again by reviewing the history, the wins, the losses and the pain that comes with being a United fan.

I miss the old Manchester United. I miss the Theatre of Dreams.

Aidan Hyde is a sports reporter for the Beacon. He can be reached at

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