The year is 1945.
The place is Dresden.
“The Florence of the Elbe”, they called it.
This eastern German city had been virtually untouched by the horrors of the Second World War, probably because both sides wanted to preserve it, or possibly because it was of no military significance whatsoever.
A city so vibrant in art and culture, that it beautifully, almost poetically, captured the height of European cultural might.
With its signature medieval architecture and its art galleries that attracted many westerners, this city was a refugee center during the war. It was a city that need not have been bothered with the war at all.
Yet, on the 15th of February, 1945, the city was bombed indiscriminately.
In a matter of hours, centuries worth of culture and tradition was set on fire. The byproducts of inspired medieval engineering were transformed into piles of rubble. The serene sight of beautiful cathedrals were reduced to nothing but shattered glass. Smoke and Fire, born out of the contents of culture, painted nature’s canvas, turning the blue and white of the sky to black and red.
Fast forward to the year 2022.
Next year, it will be 10 years since Sir Alex retired and Manchester United are no closer to winning the title since the tenure of David Moyes.
We are burning, and while Old Trafford’s roof leaks with water in rainy weather, allow me to say that Manchester United is being set ablaze.
But you know what? I can understand that a rebuild takes time, more than one would have thought. I can understand the players’ attitudes, I can understand the managerial conundrum, I can understand the owner-related issues and I think that at the end of the day, I can accept and digest the fact that my club is in trouble.
But the thing that bugs me, more than anything else, is the fact that United is not only a source of some less than ideal feelings among its own fanbase, but also that it is a source of controversy for no good reason.
We are trying desperately to spring back into action and challenge for trophies. But one particular obstacle, one incident among players and manager - that I firmly believe no one identifies as a major hindrance, like a magnifying glass fitted inside the dressing room hell-bent on creating unnecessary controversy with their "reveals" – is the English media.
I’m not just talking about football websites and phone applications here, I am talking about everyone. From the hosts of pre-match studio shows, to ex-players who have now become pundits, to the players who had a less than ideal time at United, to even the commentators.
Sometimes, it almost feels like they don’t just root for our demise, but actually play a pivotal role in the day to day outbursts that the fans have, you know, to drive engagement on their socials, after all, that's what's more important than football these days, isn't it?
It’s come to the point where five years on, Paul Pogba’s £89 million price tag is still debated despite him having his career best season at United, but Jack Grealish’s £100 million transfer to Manchester City is not talked about simply because he doesn’t play for United:
It’s come to the point where Chelsea, who were title contenders weeks ago, are now choking but somehow the news of Manchester United’s draw with Aston Villa takes precedence over that simply because Chelsea’s colors are not red.
It's come to the point where Jadon Sancho is criticized for not adapting to the Premier League when he just moved here six months ago but the combined failures of Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech are conveniently forgotten simply because they are not Red Devils.
It's come to the point where Angel Di Maria's and Romelu Lukaku’s rather outspoken comments about their “miserable condition at United” is still bigger news than Harry Kane’s unprofessionalism in the pre-season, simply because the news doesn’t belong to the red half of Manchester.
I personally am of the opinion that this is not merely banter. This is not just a media effort to increase their readership, views, clicks and the works; this is a systematic attempt to disregard the culture of this great club.
This is also the reason why I didn’t equate Old Trafford to Normandy or Berlin; because those attacks were justified, but the ones on us, just like the ones on Dresden aren’t.
To wrap up, all I’d like to throw some light on is that they can try and try and then try some more. But, at the end of the siege, the legacy that a bespectacled old man from Glasgow worked nearly 30 years to build, will endure and stand strong long after the dust settles.
Manchester United truly are made to look like England's Dresden!
Written by – Parth Tiwari, MUSC RDNCR
Instagram – mancunianwire