Yesterday, I found myself at Old Trafford, in Manchester, watching the Manchester United vs. Olympiacos match which, in case you have been stranded on a desert island for the last 24 hours, it finished with the home team beating their opponents 3 – 0.
I am not, really, a football and I am quite happy about it, but I know that Man. United haven’t been having their best season and Olympiacos have already sealed the Greek Super League Championship. Their first match, which was played in Pireaus, finished with a 2 – 0 win of Olympiacos. Right after that game Olympiacos’ performance has been going downhill. Considering that Man. Utd. was facing the humiliation of being beaten on home ground by “some Greek team” they pulled together and they played fairly OK. On the other hand, Olympiacos didn’t play great, the referee didn’t make them any favours and the ball “didn’t like them”, as we Greeks say.
So, we come to the point where the match ends with Man Utd beating Olympiacos 3 – 0 and moving on to the next phase of the Champions League. Outside Old Trafford stadium as the fans were walking away towards stations, their cars and buses you could see who was supporting Man U and who was supporting Olympiacos. I was with a Greek TV crew at the time who were trying to get Greek fans to tell them what they thought about the game. Not surprisingly, the Greeks were not in a very chatty mood.
Actually they were upset, they felt robbed and maybe they felt they should had won. They were pissed off with the referee, the team management, even lady luck. They were worried about the taunting they will get from Panathinaikos and PAOK fans. Greeks who work in the UK will get laughed at by their colleagues, too. This morning, thousands of Olympiacos fans dragged themselves out of their beds and out of the their homes, on their way to their offices, schools, places of work and in their everyday lives. These people, this morning were grumpy. They didn’t want to talk to anybody, I know because I spoke to talk to one of them. Well, I tried to and he didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t blame him. I saw people at Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens that flew for 30 hours all the way from Australia to see Olympiacos playing and hopefully winning. I am sure they are inconsolable on their 30 hour trip back home.
On the other hand, the footballers are professionals. For them it was another day in the office. OK, maybe not a productive day, not a good day but just another day. They lost the game, most probably the lost a bonus or two, but I am quite sure that they went back to their hotel, had dinner and the following day they flew home, club class probably. So, life goes on. The fans, though, will get more stick from their friends and colleagues who support other teams. And this is the problem with the beautiful game; we take it far too seriously. Actually we take it more serious than the people who are in it. So maybe we should all become footballers rather than football fans. Or, maybe, football fans should just lighten up and take it easy.