United 3 – 2 Stoke City

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Paul Gunning (@PaulGunning1)

‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Boo.

So it’s come to this. Booing one of our own. I’d hoped this day would never come. Presumably it’s only a matter of time before we’re all holding up A4 sheets of paper with ‘Moyes Out’ hastily scribbled on them in biro, or racing onto the pitch at half time to tear up our season tickets (well, cutting them up with scissors we’ve smuggled past the stewards, before being arrested on terrorism charges), then giving a bile-ridden interview to the Manchester Evening News on a rainy Sir Alex Ferguson Way.

What’s weird is that I could have sworn we were all laughing at Arsenal fans on the opening day of this season, for the chorus of boos that greeted their loss to Aston Villa, at The Emirates.

Not to mention the constant jeering we’ve subjected Manchester City fans to over the years, for such shows of ticket-tearing disappointment.

What’s also baffling is that it was Nani that was on the receiving end of a sizeable number of the supporters’ ire.

Granted, he can, without doubt, be an incredibly frustrating player to watch; sublime one moment, who’s-given-that-toddler-a-football woeful the next. Still, he’s never submitted a transfer request, or questioned the club’s ambition, or whinged about his team mates or sloped about like a sulking teenager.

Indeed, I would even go so far as to say he seems like a fairly nice, harmless chap. Not a great deal between the ears, perhaps, but hardly a player that naturally attracts unabashed vitriol.

The boos aimed at Nani against Stoke, on Saturday, struck me as being even more ludicrous given that the crowd had been enjoying that old Old Trafford refrain of ‘Attack! Attack! Attack, attack, attack!’ during the match. If there’s one criticism you can’t really level at Nani, it’s that he’s guilty of constantly passing sideways; that his approach is conservative, or anti-United. If nothing else, he’s never afraid to try things out, to try to entertain, which is surely to be admired and encouraged at the Theatre of Dreams.

Perhaps he’s finally paying the price for having turned up in England declaring himself to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, having demanded that United pay Sporting Lisbon the princely sum of £25.5m to form a tag-team with his Portugese compatriot. Hang on, I don’t think any of that was him, was it?

Well, maybe it’s Nani being booed because we’re tiring of his unadventurous starting line-ups and late, negative substitutions against lowly opposition, not to mention the arrogance he showed in sweeping into Old Trafford and firing the back-room staff as if they were bar-workers who’d just been caught, drunk as hobos, with their hands in the till. No, wait…

Then it must be his decision to sell the club to the Glazers, thus knee-capping Manchester United’s power in the transfer market, that has made him so many enemies. Hmmm…

The truth is, I can’t really see any justification for jeering Nani. He’s a player that tries hard and who is suffering some early season lack of form. He’s hardly on his own on that count.

It’s like coming home to find your wife in bed with another man, and kicking the dog down the stairs in response.

Using Nani as a scapegoat for United’s unconvincing start to the season only serves to make us look like the very fickle fans of other clubs we’ve spent the last two decades mocking with all the derision they deserved.

Save your boos for the referee or the opposition. Or just don’t bother turning up in the first place. Because if we start turning on our own, it’s just about all over.

Catch more of Paul’s excellent bloggings here: The Right Irreverend Blogger

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