Ah, here we go again. From the second the words ‘I want to go back to England’ came out of your mouth, the rumour mills began spinning. The same ones who’ll publish the same story, year after year, about you coming back to United, were employed once more. Jesus, I wonder why they write so much about it. Other great players have left their clubs but rarely has there ever been this much clamour about a player returning to his old club so consistently for about 4-5 years. The ‘Will They-Won’t They’ nature of this is exhausting.
So there are two things at play here; Either, we, as United fans, are just imbeciles who believe in this epic fantasy. Or, that at the end of the day, there has never been a club that has appreciated you like we have which is why you’ll return. Given the short term memories of Madrid fans, I’ll always bet on the latter.
In 2013, you harnessed our perpetual dream to get a lucrative new contract. I get that; you got to do what’s best for your career and a move to a Manchester United without your footballing godfather wasn’t very appetising. We compounded it by appointing a wet blanket like David Moyes, who’s greatest achievement was to be included as a sample of a person sporting the ‘deer in headlights’ look.
In 2016, yet again, ravens flew, keyboards were pounded and the prospect of a triumphal return to Old Trafford was mooted. Almost mechanically, it came to naught and you secured a FURTHER pay rise at the expense of our tremulous wishes. Fair enough, I think. European Champions were a tag we were unlikely to rise to in the near future under Louis Van Gaal and you had just achieved that with Real Madrid.
Once again, rivals snickered and jeered. ‘He’s never coming back!’ they said with undue relish. Well, not undue, considering the way you’ve decimated all of them in the past. But they genuinely taunted us for our naivety, wondered how we believed in the prospect so much that we get our hopes up every single time, only to see them crushed. In short, you became our Arsene Wenger situation; Just can’t let go of the memories and you want that happy conclusion of success together.
But the problem is, we still believe (just like Arsenal fans). It was at Old Trafford that a precocious young talent was nurtured. It was in front of the Stretford End when you made us gape for the first time while Bolton players fell like trees all around you.
We knew then that you were something to be witnessed and we haven’t felt let down, even when we secretly (or not) follow Real Madrid primarily to watch you. The belief that you were amongst history’s finest was always there, even when people questioned your abilities and called you a show-pony. ‘Fancy step overs with no end product’ we heard. ‘Where are the goals?’ was another common refrain. We kept faith and were left with smirking faces. Well, 42 goals in 2008 really answered them!
Inevitably, we had to lose you the next year. There was no rancour, no antagonism. We understand that Real Madrid are the Kings of Europe. They have a pedigree there that we can only dream off and admire from the distance. It made sense; the best player leaving for the most successful club etc etc. We didn’t like it, but we had to deal with it. When you scored the goal to dump us out at the hands of your new employers, we were shattered but proud. The prodigal son comes home and did he let the occasion faze him? Nope. He got on with it and just did what he does. He wins.
We can hardly fathom the Madrid fans at times. Yes, they have seen great players. Yes, they have always had the world’s best playing for them. But like every child with fancy toys, they get bored and spoiled. They turn on their own players, calling them out and constantly living in the moment. They boo you when you don’t score, despite the fact that you’ve scored more goals for them than anyone else ever. In half the time as their previous record holder, I may add. But no, in this era of instant gratification, they all want more.
We may not have liked Wayne Rooney towards the end, but there was still the respect that the record goal scorer deserves. Do you feel the disrespect every time those indulged brats at the Bernabeau heckle you? Do you yourself wonder whether they will ever really appreciate you? I’ll doubt they will. Now they wait for Mbappe like that spoilt kid I mentioned. One injury and it will go on to the next guy. That wouldn’t ever happen at Old Trafford. Not even if you managed a season with 5 goals. (That would never happen but it has to be said). We’re glad we got to see you play and proud that we played a pivotal role in your success. Manchester United don’t buy superstars, we make them is our mantra.
Now there are tax issues plaguing your mind and the talk is on once more. Earlier this year, you said you had made an ‘irreversible’ decision to leave Real Madrid and for a brief moment, we were tempted to believe you. Yet, we have heard nothing since. If you say you want to leave Real Madrid, do it. Don’t do a Lionel Messi – Argentina U-turn. That was sad enough as it is. If you say you want to come back, do it. Hand in that transfer request and get the ball rolling. Stop trying to get yourself the best contract at that temporary situation you have. Get back home and be a part of the project with Mourinho. He has plans, the club is getting the right personnel in and the future is bright.
It can be blinding with you returning to the fold.
A Manchester United Fan