Will Manchester United’s new singing section strike the right note?

Posted: October 23, 2013 in football
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Will United's singing section strike the right note?
Impressive on the road, Manchester United fans are not known for their singing at Old Trafford  (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester United’s clash with Real Sociedad will see the beginnings of Old Trafford’s designated signing section in a bid to improve the atmosphere at the home of the champions.

Whilst Manchester United’s away fans are widely regarded as the best in the country, always taking up the full allocation at every ground and making sure they are heard throughout the 90 minutes, the home fans have been on the end of some criticism.

This was famously sparked initially by former captain Roy Keane, whose comments about the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ will go down in Premier League folklore.

Keane famously criticised the Old Trafford crowd after United’s 1-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev in 2000.

‘Our fans away from home are as good as any, but some of them come here and you have to wonder do they understand the game of football?’ he said.

‘We’re 1-0 up, then there are one or two stray passes and they’re getting on players’ backs. It’s just not on. At the end of the day they need to get behind the team.

‘Away from home our fans are fantastic; I’d call them the hardcore fans. But at home they have a few drinks and probably the prawn sandwiches, and they don’t realise what’s going on out on the pitch.

I don’t think some of the people who come to Old Trafford can spell football, never mind understand it.

‘I don’t think some of the people who come to Old Trafford can spell football, never mind understand it.’

Whilst United have benefited massively from the emergence of the Premier League and Sky Sports, one of the drawbacks has been the impact on the home atmosphere.

With United drawing in millions of fans from across the world, a trip to Old Trafford is now a day out for some people, a tourist attraction, with half and half scarves being sold outside the ground as a memento.

On a weekly basis there are fans sitting in the home section who aren’t even United fans but who are there for the experience, or people who don’t go regularly and don’t know any of the songs.

Whilst this is not a problem exclusive to United, with Anfield and Stamford Bridge amongst many stadiums that don’t generate the noise you would expect, it is a problem nevertheless.

In a bid to bridge the gap between the quality of the away support and that of the home support, 1,400 fans will move seats this evening and sit in the South East quadrant of the ground, which is the area where travelling supporters usually sit.

Will United's singing section strike the right note?
Will Real Sociedad’s players experience a louder than usual Old Trafford? (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

This area was chosen after realising the acoustics in this part of the ground were better.

The fan initiative has been led by supporters’ groups Reclaim United and Stretford End Flags as well as fan Pete Boyle, and it has received the backing of fanzines Red News and United We Stand.

‘In recent years, some fans have complained about the noise levels, but rather than moaning ourselves, we’ve decided to do something about it,’ said Pete Boyle.

‘This is only the first step, but I’m confident of its success and I’m sure it’ll create a better experience for all.

‘A great atmosphere lifts the team and is easy to create within a group of like-minded Reds; just listen to our away support, it’s incredible.

‘Understandably, some fans will be reluctant to leave their seats for sentimental reasons. It was a tough decision to leave my own, but I wanted to stand up and be counted. We have an opportunity to improve the stadium and I hope other fans grab it with both hands.”

Whilst rival fans may mock United fans for needing to initiate a better atmosphere, surely only positives can come from this for both the fans and the team. In the programme notes for tonight’s game, David Moyes has called for an ‘incredibly intimidating’’ atmosphere.

Let’s see if the singing section can help create one.

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