Even as a fairly recent Manchester City supporter, I'm no stranger to the club's propensity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Which is part of why I am so strongly disinclined to prematurely crown ourselves the Premier League Champions, but that's not the only reason.
It also would be the sort of behavior I've come to expect from a Manchester United supporter and I'd like to be as dissimilar to a ManU fan as possible.
My friends and I are part of a small, but growing contingent of City supporters frequenting a nearby English Pub here in Seattle. There are usually only 3-5 of us at most games, since many of us have to work on the weekends. This morning saw the usual suspects all seated happily in our regular booth, right beneath the big TV. Directly behind us, however, was a pair of new faces, both proudly sporting brand new United shirts.
Now there's nothing surprising about seeing a United supporter show up to catch a City match, especially when their fate depends on us dropping points. That being said, I can't help but smile when I hear the inevitable jeers. And razzing one's rival is part of the fun, so I generally don't mind the exchange too much.
There is one line, though, that always tilts my head a bit:
You can't buy class!
Do they suppose Sir Alex purchased his squad at a rummage sale using money from his summer job at the Car Wash?
But more than that is the underlying assumption that class is a quality that they are qualified to speak to, being the classiest act around.
Funny, I wouldn't consider shouting out your sour grapes during a match the mark of a classy fan.
It seems to me like many Manchester United supporters feel entitled to victory, as though it were theirs by right, on the merit of their club's history alone. I've seen reds squall and fuss like petulant children denied a sweet when they failed to make it out of the group stage of the Champions League, and after their 6-1 defeat at Old Trafford I heard every manner of excuse and equivocation, everything short of acknowledging United was outplayed in a fair fight.
Don't get me wrong, I've heard things from City fans that I do not approve of, Munich chants in particular are completely unacceptable. And I've certainly seen admirable conduct from United supporters, often the old guard; the type that's there every weekend without having checked the results of the match beforehand.
I particularly remember a white-bearded gentleman, wearing red from top to bottom walking over and shaking my hand when we beat them in the FA Cup semi-final last year.
That was super classy.
That was the act of a man who saw past the outcome he would have liked, saw what a huge win it was for the blue half of Manchester, and understood that congratulating a rival's hard-won success takes nothing away from your side.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that saying you've got class is, at the very best, redundant.
Form is temporary...
Class is self-evident.