One of life’s more unfortunate lessons, alongside the realisation your diet has outstripped your metabolism, is that shithousery can take you a long way.
Think of bankers that fill the skyscrapers of the City of London; hardly the most altruistic of folk, but even the more genial bankers generally aren’t squeamish about doing whatever it takes to get ahead.
Or, on a more local scale, think of the person that barges ahead of you at the bar and gets served first. They don’t give a single fuck that you were there first. Their only thought is acquiring their next fix of mediocre lager.
Which leads us nicely to Manchester United. After years of (relative) struggle, United have finally turned a corner under Erik ten Hag and tentative talk of a title challenge has started to fill the carriages on the Altrincham line.
The biggest reason for this? Never mind the goals of Marcus Rashford and the emergence of Luke Shaw as United’s Napoleon in the heart of defence, it’s the sight of David de Gea baiting the entirety of Elland Road that provides the biggest reason for cheer.
United’s clash against Leeds on Sunday was the dirty, niggly and chaotic match we’ve come to expect from the warring factions of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
As the tackles flew in, and the bile flowed down from the terraces, De Gea marked his 400th Premier League appearance with a string of saves to keeps Leeds at bay.
So the release after Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho scored the match-winning goals was understandably cathartic. The away end contorted into a jubilant jumble of limbs while the goalscorers strutted away with immense self-satisfaction.
But all eyes in the Don Revie Stand were on De Gea; the United goalkeeper greeted Garnacho’s strike with air pumps, goading jumps and cries of retribution, all directed at the seething Leeds supporters behind his goal.
As De Gea whooped and hollered, stopping just short of grabbing two pistols and firing them into the air, one Leeds fan with a terrible mini-mullet cried out in impotent fury. Others demonstrated that Britain still leads the way in creative masturbatory gestures.
The Spaniard milked the moment for a full 15 seconds, causing a stadium-sized cauldron of piss to boil over. Zero shits were given. United had truly announced their return as a side worth bothering about.
— Jamie (@smithy24700) February 12, 2023
“It’s a pleasure to play in front of him,” Harry Maguire said about De Gea after the 2-0 victory had been confirmed.
“To play 400 games for this club in the most scrutinised position in world football, that just shows how good he’s been over the years for club. He’s a legend and is performing at the highest level this season and he’ll keep doing that.”
While De Gea himself, when asked by MUTV if determination and resilience were the key qualities in the match, said: “It was everything, from the beginning of the game, we knew we’d come to a very difficult pitch, but we fought until the end.
“We knew the first 10 minutes of both halves were massive, so keep a clean sheet, big for us, and then we score two goals. It’s a special game and a special win.”
United are yet to take up their option to extend De Gea’s current terms by an extra 12 months, the suggestion being that there is a lack of interest in committing to paying the stopper’s high wages for another year.
Whether De Gea should remain at Old Trafford beyond the summer is open to debate; the keeper has served United well, but many fans feel he peaked six years ago and an upgrade is long overdue.
Whatever happens, De Gea’s glorious shithouse celebration at Elland Road proved that Manchester United are finally resuming their status as England’s most hated club. Just like the good old days.
By Michael Lee