Fans bask in reflected Manchester United glory

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 1:54am

If you weren't already suspicious about just how far Manchester United's influence reaches, yesterday's change in the weather might have had you looking to the heavens and pleading to the big guy upstairs "not you, too?"

But as the weekend's dismal deluges gave way to a day of pure sunshine, the United faithful here on the ground took the good fortune in their stride as they turned Hong Kong Stadium - and great swathes of the city - pure red. The cynical might even say it seemed to be fully expected by the followers of a club for whom success seems to come stacked up season upon season, both on and off the pitch.

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It has long been less hoped for and more thought of as a god-given right.

Du Cheng arrived here from Changsha with eight fellow students all fearing the worst after reading about the weather over the past few days and then hearing about the state of the stadium pitch when they touched down in town.

"I have been worried that someone might get injured but I thought things would turn out okay. They always seem to with United," said the 24-year-old psychology student, who says she has been following the Red Devils for the past decade and had a pair of horns firmly fitted to her head as though to prove the point.

Asked why she had decided to support Manchester United, given the many and varied choices world football offers, she looked slightly aghast at the notion that there could ever have been anyone else, and said, incredulously, "I must be a United fan".

Nigel Lee is secretary of Hong Kong's newly minted Official Manchester United Fan Club, a group of supporters who have been gathering together in some form or another for more than a decade, but who only received the club's formal backing in February.

The 30-year-old said the attraction to United was about more than just the trophies - row upon row of trophies - it was the "aura" that surrounds the Manchester club.

"As a kid I heard the name 'Red Devils' and I thought it was pretty cool," he said. "That was before I learnt about the club's history, the attractive football, the rich traditions. There is an aura about United that no other club has."

Both Du and Lee seemed to sum up the general mood among the faithful - that the club had found the ideal replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson in new manager David Moyes.

"We were all sad to see Sir Alex go," said Lee. "Maybe it was one or two years too soon, but David Moyes is the right choice and the right man. United are looking to the future."

And for the 40,000-odd faithful last night, it's a future that - as always - looks assured.