One doesn’t have to be a football fan to know about Manchester United. With 20 league titles and three European Cups, the club’s reputation precedes it. While it did have its moments decades ago, a lot of United’s success has come from recent achievements. It’s in fact the most successful club in the Premier League era and has been known for its consistency over the years. Their success didn’t come quick or easy however, it was a gradual process in which they slowly took over from Liverpool as the top English club in the 1990s. Their constant improvement meant that by the early 2000s, they had already solidified their status as one of the top clubs in English football. United soon became one of the most widely supported football teams in the world and the signing of star players like Cristiano Ronaldo raised the club’s profile even further.
However, the increase in the number of fans didn’t mean that everyone liked them. It seemed as though the more their status rose, the more hatred they seemed to pick up along the way. Liverpool fans certainly weren’t happy as United was now doing better than their team. Then came the early 2000s and Arsenal became their main rival, meaning Arsenal fans also began to dislike them. Their 19th league trophy pretty much summed up their dominance for they had now overtaken Liverpool who had 18. It goes without saying that Liverpool fans were far from pleased especially when you consider the fact that their club hadn’t yet claimed the title in the Premier League era. Thus United’s rise to the top had also coincided with it becoming one of the most hated clubs in English football. Here are the 15 reasons Manchester United are hated by so many people.
15 Theatre of Dreams
Old Trafford, which is Manchester United’s home ground, was nicknamed “The Theatre of Dreams” by United legend and England’s greatest footballer, Sir Bobby Charlton. Though not the official name of the stadium, it’s occasionally referred to in this way. However, some people (non United fans to be specific) believe that the name is self-aggrandizing and thus see it as an attempt to establish superiority over others.
United is one of the richest sports clubs and part of their wealth comes from selling club merchandise. However, they are among the Premier League clubs that charge the highest for their tickets. They also keep changing their kits constantly, causing fans to keep buying new replicas which also don’t come cheap. These factors have led many to believe that United only care about making more money and aren’t considerate towards those who struggle to pay for these goods.
13 Fergie Time
This refers to the habit of referees adding more time to matches where United needed a goal. It usually started with Sir Alex Ferguson pointing at his watch towards the end of the match and some referees would then add them some more time. What made things worse was the fact that United tended to score during this time and thus occasionally went on to win the match. This was highly frowned upon by managers and opposition players whose team dropped points due to such an occurrence. Ferguson later claimed that he did it to create tension for the opposition.
12 Abnormal Luck
United have a history of grinding out unexpected wins. They’ve been in situations where they were about to lose a match only to come back and win it or salvage a draw, sometimes at the dying moments of a match. One notable example is their miraculous victory over Bayern Munich in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final where they were losing 1-0 only for them to score two goals in injury time.
There’s also the 2009/10 season where they had 10 own goals scored by their opponents. It might not seem like a big deal until you consider the fact that the own goals happened to be their third highest goal scorer in the Premier League. It thus irked some people that United tended to get these “magic” wins on many occasions.
11 Player Infidelities
United has had its fair share of sex scandals over the years but the ones that have brought about the most condemnation are those that involve cheating on a spouse or partner. United players have been at the centre of some of the biggest sex scandals and this has brought the club some negative attention. The fact is that the people’s disapproval usually extends to the player’s club and thus United have gained antis due to their player’s behaviour.
10 Poaching of Players
No matter which club you are, you will get a lot of hate if you take away another club’s player. It’s even worse if the player was one of the fan favourites. Thus United will always be hated by Everton fans for taking Wayne Rooney, and by the Arsenal fans for taking Robin van Persie. Fans are bound to get angry when a player is lured away with the promise of either more money or a chance to win trophies and the club responsible for the departure will definitely bear the brunt of their anger.
9 Penalty Decisions
Manchester United has been awarded some of the most dubious penalties on a number of occasions and this mostly happened in home matches. It was also rare for the opposition to be awarded a penalty at Old Trafford. In a home match against Tottenham in 2009, United were trailing 2-0 at half time but then got awarded a controversial penalty shortly into the second half. The penalty was converted and United started gaining momentum which saw them win the match 5-2. Most people felt that the penalty shouldn’t have been given and considered the referee to be biased. Many people ended up disliking United because they felt that referees kept favouring them.
8 England’s World Cup and Euro Failures
1998 World Cup: David Beckham is sent off for kicking Argentina’s Diego Simeone. England is eliminated after Argentina wins the match on penalty kicks. Beckham is vilified by the English press and fans alike.
2006 World Cup: Wayne Rooney is sent off for a stamp on Portugal’s Ricardo Carvalho after plenty of persuasion from Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo winks towards the Portuguese bench and later scores the winning penalty in the shoot-out and England is eliminated. Ronaldo is thus disliked by English fans, including United supporters.
Euro 2012: Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two matches and has a lacklustre display in the tournament. England is eliminated after losing the penalty shoot-out against Italy in the quarter-finals.
While the United players were not the only ones to blame for England’s woes, they still got the most rebuke. Beckham and Rooney also happened to be their team’s star players in 1998 and 2012 thus people hated United because their players didn’t deliver in big tournaments.
7 Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson is one of the greatest managers of all time and his success wasn’t achieved by being nice, or humble for that matter. He used to lord it over referees, coercing them into making decisions in United’s favour. Those who didn’t do his bidding rarely officiated at United’s matches and even the FA was sometimes not immune to his pressurization. His confidence and outspoken nature also led to him being labelled as arrogant. Other managers might have complained about him but the fact is that most of them would’ve done the same if they could get away with half the stuff he did.
6 The Players
Footballers play a major role in how people perceive their team and if someone dislikes a certain player because of their actions, they sometimes end up disliking their team too. In United’s case, some examples include Eric Cantona’s kick on a Crystal Palace fan, Roy Keane’s horror tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland and Ashley Young’s constant diving. There’s also Gary Neville’s infamous goal celebration in front of Liverpool fans, who hated him since then. These players got some hate for their actions which only served to increase people’s hatred towards United.
5 Lack of Competition
Regardless of the team one supports, most people like to see some actual competition in the league. The league becomes boring if at the beginning of a season one can already predict who will claim the title. United dominated the Premier League for a long time and people came to associate them with winning. Thus people got tired of United’s victories and the fact that their teams were not able to stop them as this had taken the fun out of the game.
4 Team Affiliation
Some people support a team because of their parents/relatives, others due to a team’s geographical location, while some pick a team they feel they can relate to. What often happens is that once someone picks a team, they automatically start hating the teams considered to be their rivals. Thus a Liverpool fan won’t like Manchester United and vice versa.
The emergence of Manchester City as a genuine title contender has forced Mancunians to pick either of the two Manchester clubs and let’s not forget the rivalry between United and Arsenal in the early 2000s when the two were the top clubs in the league. Basically, if one’s club considers United as their competition, it makes it difficult to like them.
3 Giant Killing Mentality
People take great delight in the misfortunes of a previously successful team, as long as it’s not the one they support. The myriad of memes currently being circulated at Chelsea’s expense serves to prove this point. Fans simply love it when another team’s fortune drops a few notches and they rarely have a specific reason for this other than just wanting their rivals to suffer. Therefore, many people rejoiced when United started to falter after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson as it gave other teams a chance to topple them.
Most people will try to deny this but the hatred they feel for Manchester United stems from being jealous of them and their accomplishments. Many fans would like it if it was their club that won a treble or had 20 League titles. They thus tend to resent United for their remarkable feats because they have already achieved many of their goals while their teams are still trying to follow in their footsteps.
1 The Fans
United’s success over the years has garnered them a lot of fans. However, some of these fans are glory hunters who choose to support the most successful team. They also happen to be quite obnoxious and often tend to brag about their team’s victories to opposing fans. To make matters worse, some of them don’t know a thing about the club. While not all United fans are dislikable, those who are have certainly made the most contribution towards making people hate the club.