If you visited Craven Cottage on the weekend, you would have been forgiven for thinking the game was being played at Old Trafford, as Manchester United headed towards a 3-1 victory against the struggling London club. Inside the stadium the United fans created a phenomenal atmosphere, as they saw a first half rally from their side, leading into the break 3-0 up. As the Fulham fans looked on in disbelief, they offered not much voiced support throughout the game.
But don’t confuse this as a rant of Fulham supporters; it is a criticism of home grounds across the country.
The days of terraces are far beyond us at the top level, with it sensible and necessary to choose safety over atmosphere. Rattles have been lost for similar reasons, and vuvuzelas were rightly banned as they converted passionate support to be muzzled into what can only be described as a heated traffic jam.
These different aspects being lost in English grounds has caused repercussions to the extent to whereby today, home fans are only a mumble amongst the overpowering volume of the travelling away supporters.
Stumped for chants to ridicule Manchester United’s success over the last twenty years, travelling fans have found alternatives to gain an upper hand on the 70,000 strong home support at Old Trafford. Instead of offering chants aimed towards motivating their side, away fans have now made it mandatory to criticise the Old Trafford faithful, regarding their support. Chants such as ‘You only sing when you’re winning’ and ‘Your support is f****** s***’ have become accustomed to the ears of United fans.
The ironic thing is, ask other Premier League fans around the country, and most fans who live outside the parameter of Merseyside or Manchester will probably agree that Manchester United offer some of the best away support in the league.
So it comes back to the simple question of why? How can it be that when you are in the mass of your numbers at home, support is subdued by what is always a small proportion of travelling fans. View Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and any Eastern European league and this problem would be a foreign language to them, and not just because they don’t speak English.
Borussia Dortmund, Marseille, Bursaspor, Lech Poznan – the list of greatly supported clubs in Europe is endless. And although the Premier League is widely considered the best league in the world, with some of the most passionate support, this is not conveyed to the extent of the clubs [mentioned] whose fans have togetherness between them, jumping in unison and reaching decibels that could revive the sense of hearing.