NEIL BONNAR: United's Schadenfreude for Liverpool is more than for City

First published in Sport
Last updated

AT the time of writing I have no idea how Manchester United went on against Bayern Munich last night, but I hope with all my sporting heart they lost.

I have little or no time for United, never had, never will. There’s no point pretending there is any possible scenario that could persuade me to want them to win.

If they were playing against the Devil’s Xl just give me a scarf with the guy with the horns on his head.

Some people call it bitterness, others jealousy.

I have no doubt it is irrational, and yet I would argue just as strongly that it is perfectly natural.

It is called Schadenfreude: the pleasure one gets from another’s misfortune.

Rather aptly, we have to use a German word because the English don’t have one. One-nil to the Germans then... hopefully the same as last night.

While I have no qualms expressing my own personal Schadenfreude, I’m hardly alone. There are millions probably who have a team they want to lose.

And where would we be without it?

It’s part of what makes the football world go round. It’s called rivalry.

And don’t bring logic into it, guff about wanting the English teams to do well against foreign clubs and supporting local teams etc. All that does is create confusion in a world where instinct rules and should be respected having been developed in a fan’s mind during years of mockery, taunting and rivalry.

It was a funny week for Schadenfreude this week. Man City fans wanted Man United to lose last night, but United fans want City to win on Sunday.

But that’s only because they are playing Liverpool in a game that could go a long way towards deciding the Premier League title – and United’s own Schadenfreude is greater for Liverpool than it is for City.

Ex-United player Gary Neville – a self-respecting member of the Schadenfreude club who is typical of many dyed-in-the-wool United fans in that he doesn’t like either City or Liverpool – summed it up perfectly when asked whether he wanted City or Liverpool to win.

“It’s like having a choice of two blokes to nick your wife,” he said.

And the bitterness spreads far and wide. This week I spoke to a long-time Everton fan who admitted he doesn’t know whether he wants his team to beat City when they meet shortly.

Surely he should be desperate for his team to win, this season more than any other as they are storming towards a spot in the top four and a place in the Champions League.

You’d think. But that would be to under-estimate the power of Schadenfreude. He’s in two minds because he’s worried if Everton win they would hand the title to Liverpool.

To some this will sound crazy, but it is all perfectly normal in the weird and wacky world of football rivalry.

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