Liverpool were woeful last night. Manchester United, surprisingly good. There is lots to speak about regarding the game. Lots of conversation about how badly we need a midfielder and how crazy it is that we’ve let our squad get so old, so quickly, without revitalising it from a position of strength. FSG probably are quite tight when it comes to transfers, you know.
But I’m going to write about all this in due course.
This article, instead, is about my confusion and sadness at the utterly predictable Heysel and Hillsborough chants seen outside and inside Old Trafford last night.
Manchester United fans were supposed to be protesting against their owners, the Glazers. The Glazers spend more money on their side than any club in world football, pretty much, but there are undeniable issues with their management of the club and I fully back a supporter’s right to express opposition.
But that protest doesn’t make a lot of sense when one minute fans are singing about how great Wayne Rooney is, then that ‘Joel Glazer is gonna die,’ and next, loudly proclaiming that ‘The S*n was right, you’re murderers’.
Not sure what "The Sun was right you're murderers" has got to do with the Glazer family like but whatever, I suppose.
— Daniel Austin (@_Dan_Austin) August 22, 2022
Now, sometimes, United fans try to defend the Murderers chant by claiming it is in fact about the Heysel tragedy (oh, so that makes it ok then?!) – but the inclusion of the S*n newspaper makes a mockery of those claims.
If you’re protesting the Glazers, protest the Glazers. Liverpool have nothing to do with it.
There were some high-profile United fans actually who wanted Liverpool to back the protest, as seen in the tweet below….
That becomes pretty difficult when this level of abuse is being fired our way during the protest you want us to help with, eh Terry?
Liverpool fans not backing the Manchester United protests are disrespecting the soul of Liverpool!
— Terry Flewers (@terryflewers) August 20, 2022
During the chanting before the game, a bus making its way to the stadium was pelted with bottles and cans. It was actually carrying United supporting children, believe it or not. Where’s the outrage? It’s certainly not getting the column inches dedicated to how badly Jordan Henderson and James Milner played.
If you remember when that bottle of Kopparberg thrown by a Liverpool fan hit a bus carrying Manchester City players before a Champions League game a few years back, the Manchester Evening News went into overdrive. One journalist, Stuart Brennan, had a field day – writing multiple articles about the incident – all damning Liverpool as a club and a fanbase.
Have they had a similar reaction to last night’s bottling of a coach? No, obviously. It’s mentioned in one line of a huge piece summing up the entire protest, with another single line talking about the Hillsborough chants.
It’s time United took some ownership of this. No club is perfect. Every big institution will have dickheads that follow it and embarrass them. But this is every time we play each other. Home or away. Loud, consistent chants about football disasters in which people died – and their families have to listen to it every time.
There was a big piece in the Athletic urging people to stop doing it before last night’s game. Did it help? No. It spurred them on.
It’s time United issued a statement, in all honesty. They can’t keep pretending it’s not happening.
And there is no longer any comparison with comments about the Munich disaster, which are obviously equally abhorrent.
You simply don’t hear hundreds of Liverpool fans singing in unison about Munich. You might get the odd individual who should be rightly called out – but it’s not organised and audible on the television. The Hillsborough chants are getting worse every time we play them. There are teenagers who don’t even understand what they’re singing, doing so with a big smile on their faces.
The poverty chants are depressing, but at least this criticism can be levelled at basically every other club who visit Anfield.
Only a few sing the Murderers song, and none with as much passion as United.
I know the reaction to this from many non-Reds will be, ‘Always the victims’…
Great – another Hillsborough slur. Sigh.
What can we do? Just let it happen? It shouldn’t be Liverpool fans calling it out anymore. Sky Sports can hear it. They ignore it, as it makes them uncomfortable. United obviously chose to focus on their new signing Casemiro and their excellent performance. To them, it is a minor footnote in their never-ending PR spin.
But it’s horrible, isn’t it? Why does it still happen? Can’t people do better?
Maybe. Maybe not.