Let’s hope Norwich City enjoyed Old Trafford enough to fight for a return

Old Trafford - Yes it's often painful, but it is still the place you want to be. Picture by Paul Che

Old Trafford - Yes it's often painful, but it is still the place you want to be. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It is always something special to go to Old Trafford – even if the result is probably what most of a Norwich City persuasion fear.

Perhaps at times there is too much acknowledgement of how distinguished the club is – the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ often appears to be built on a weighty superiority complex that the silverware can probably hold up.

“We’re Man United, we’ll do what we want,” they sing. And they mean it too.

As someone who spent most of last week convinced Norwich City were arriving at the best possible time to take on United, it was a strange feeling to see such a strong starting XI for the hosts.

And then a strong list of substitutes.


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In the end I settled on the fact I had completely underestimated what Sir Alex Ferguson has at his disposal – that, and the weighty expectation that comes with being a true football beast.

As one of the staff led me through the corridors of Old Trafford, we chatted out the 90 minutes that had just gone.

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Sadly he wasn’t helping me with my plan to stow away somewhere until Tuesday night, with a hope of catching United’s clash with Real Madrid.

But he did answer my curiosity over why Ferguson risked all his big guns for a game the United boss called “mundane” before kick-off.

“They fear City,” said the helpful man – City in this case could easily have been Norwich of course, given what happened at Carrow Road. It was obviously those noisy neighbours.

I doubt the success Sir Alex has cultivated over one of the most successful managerial careers world football has ever known was built on an attitude that would either:

a) allow a team below you in the table, who humbled you earlier in the season, to get away with even contemplating doing a Premier League double;

b) resist the temptation to not only put right the perceived wrong of losing your top-flight crown to those rich relatives next door, but annihilate those rivals in the process of retaking it.

Maybe the relentless nature of Manchester United this season is built on fear of losing out again – but more likely, it’s about restoring what they would see as the natural order in a northern metropolis.

Either way, the Canaries couldn’t compete with them – even though the score was close for most of the game.

But what I do hope is that the City faithful revelled in their weekend trip.

Maybe a few decades ago, when the playing field was more even, watching your team play at Old Trafford could’ve been just another away trip. But the field is now as even as the Pennines.

United are a behemoth, while Norwich’s top-flight status rests on other results – simply to secure another Old Trafford visit the following campaign.

“You’re nothing special, the scousers got five,” was the chant to prove why City’s fans are worthy of pride – being on Old Trafford’s 2013-14 fixture list should boost the City self esteem too.

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