Last night’s Europa League final saw a collective release of passion.
From the fans unable to hold back the chants of “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester” during the pre-game minute’s silence, to the various tributes from the United players after the final whistle. There was also cross-town union in the form of the poignant message posted to social media by Manchester City.
— Manchester City (@ManCityMAS) May 24, 2017
It all felt right.
The move to postpone Jose Mourinho’s Tuesday press conference was the right decision. The club cancelling the planned staff party on Wednesday was the right decision. And the way they went onto the pitch to fight for the city was exactly the right note.
United went into the match with the city behind them. A reminder that the spirit of Manchester won’t be broken. The ethic of hard work embodied by the famous bees would stand firm.
The world’s eyes were watching. The stadium announcer declared “tonight is all about Manchester”. The host city itself was still reeling from its own devastating terror attack.
Taking place at the appropriately named Friends Arena, the United players went into the match under enormous pressure to perform. And perform they did. It may not have been the most romantic of wins. It was tense, cagey, and a typical Mourinho strategy. But as is the way with typical Mourinho game plans, it ended with a win.
And the result felt so right.
For Manchester. pic.twitter.com/UgWP5eLQyi
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 24, 2017
Sport and football especially is often heralded as being more important than life itself. The events of this week truly put that notion into perspective. But what sport does have is the power to unite, to bring people together and, ultimately, bring joy.
United’s midfielder and fans’ player of the season Ander Herrera said: “When you think about life and football, you have no choice.
“The manager told us that the only thing we could do was win this for them and that’s what we’ve done.
“It’s just a football game, it’s just a trophy, but if we can help or if we can support them with this just one per cent it’s enough for us.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 25, 2017
Both Manchester clubs have since come together to pledge £1 million to the We Love Manchester emergency fund.
Football and football fans will always have their important role to play in our great city. And rightly so.