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Should We Ban The Banter?



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With the North-South Derby not kicking-off until Monday, the press has prodded at anything they could to stoke up the fire between the Manchester United and Arsenal supporters.

Whether it has been Sir Alex Ferguson urging the United supporters to stop chanting the Arsene Wenger song, or the comments made by Patrice Evra, the media is doing a fine job in their valiant attempt of giving the North-South Derby more of a cutting edge.

However, the often-dividing debate about the abuse that is constantly being whirled around stadiums by both sets of supporters in attempts to rile the another one up, has been brought to the forefront, because apparently Sir Alex thinks it has gone a bit too far.

As long as the verbal jousting, which is almost never done tastefully, is within context, is non-offensive to a certain race and does not disrespect any unfortunate deaths of innocent victims, then it should not be seen as such a negative thing.

Yes, there will always be a fine line in everything we do in life, and oftentimes we get completely tangled up – almost to the point of strangulation – but that is what makes life interesting.

Manchester United, and their enamored supporters, who pay good money for their seats inside Old Trafford as well as other memorabilia that the club throws their way every year, are constantly subjected to Munich chants, or some other disgraceful song sung by the opposition in the away end.

What some fail to realize is that passionate feelings normally lead to animosity, or hostility, towards your opposition – a team, a player or a manager – which makes Old Trafford an ideal setting to play a match at.

On the rare occasion, Sir Alex has stepped out of line with a verbal spasm about this or that, and this constant point about the chant about Arsene Wenger has to be one of those times.

The United manager should not expect, or ask, the United fans, who are inside Old Trafford, to sit back and take it on the chin, while the opposing supporters cast insults about the club and players we love and support.

Sure, some will say that, “two wrongs do not make a right,” but two negatives do equal a positive, which means that there should be an electric atmosphere at Old Trafford for when these two teams meet up.

Would Sir Alex prefer to experience another boring, morgue-type of an atmosphere at Old Trafford – like the one during the 1-1 home draw against Valencia this past week?

On numerous occasions, Fergie has openly urged the United supporters to get involved and get behind the team, because the team can become inspired, and, unfortunately, that sometimes comes at a price.

Some critics say that none of the disgraceful chants inspire the players, and they would be right, but the players should not be listening to the words of the chants on the field, but feeling the emotion and hearing the noise that is being project in those chants has, should and will motivate them.

In an ideal world, everyone team would get a trophy, every supporter would be able to wear their team’s colors in the streets without fear, all because they would clap and cheer for both sets of teams, because no one deserves to lose.

Seriously, wake up – it has never been that way, is not that way and, frankly, it never will be that way.

Trying to prohibit the fans from doing EXACTLY what the Arsenal, as well as other club’s, fans do to him by either labeling him as either a “drunk,” or poking fun of his nose is quite contradicting by the United boss.

One would think that Wenger being referred to as a paedophile should be on the same tasteless wavelength as being called a “voyeur” by a fellow manager, but Sir Alex has probably never condoned his good friend, Jose Mourinho, about that one, though.

Can’t you just see the often-disparaging Arsenal manager saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your names will never hurt me,” though?

Just because Sir Alex sent a peace offering to Wenger, and now may be all chummy, chummy with him now, which is is completely his choice, but that does not mean the United supporters, or players, need to be as well.

Paul Scholes, who was needlessly ridiculed by Wenger for allegedly having a “dark side” to his game, or Gary Neville, who has also been saddled by his bad-mouthing on several occasions throughout his career, would more than likely chuckle at Ferguson’s comments and side with the fans this one time.

This is the same manager, who allowed his players to physically abuse Ruud van Nistelrooy following the final whistle after a heated draw at Old Trafford, right? Oh, and let’s be sure not to forget the infamous “PizzaGate,” either.

Everyday, and on every non-United-based message board, there is the habitual use of that dreaded “Man U” term, which is a known derogatory insult towards the club.

Until the use of that word, and the Munich Air Disaster songs come to a halt, the United supporters should sing every single one of their anti-opposition, or manager in this case, chants with extra emotion.

With all things said, Manchester United and Arsenal have one of the greatest rivalries in the history of English football, and we should not go and ruin the North-South Derby by foolishly suggesting some ridiculous restrictions as to what the supporters can and cannot chant.

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"The United Religion: A Manchester United View From Abroad," www.theunitedreligion.com, is a blog that delivers an American perspective on one of the world's most successful football clubs. Since I have an opinion about anything and everything, I decided to put many of my off-the-wall ideas as well as passionate feelings about the ongoings of United into words. In my writings, you will discover that I do my best to back up all of my outlandish opinions, and finicky analysis with statistical and/or factual evidence. If you wish to publish any of the articles, or have any questions, please contact me directly at theunitedreligion[at]gmail[dot]com.