In times of domestic unrest, leaders of nations and peoples have often used war to bring unity to home affairs…
Patriotism is a powerful phenomenon. No matter how much one group of people or a nation dislikes or mistrusts its leaders, as soon as there is an external threat, there is a common enemy, and a common goal, it suddenly becomes us versus them.
Synonymously, nations and governments across the world and throughout history have utilized the ‘common threat’ card to their advantage, to reinforce their own power – it doesn’t take a great historian to observe the trend of civil unrest met by the trigger of a demonized other or enemy to bring the people together.
In Stalin’s Soviet Union, the common enemy was Hitler’s Germany, in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, it was Argentina, in the present political landscape, it’s often terrorism – it can be an individual, a group of people, or even an abstract concept but whatever it is, it has the power to bond together even the most fractured society.
Football is something of a microcosm of society. David Moyes may not be a political leader and Manchester United is not a country but the effect could well be the same. The club is the most popular British club in the world and one of the richest superpowers of the modern age and tonight they face the first battle against the biggest superpower in Europe in Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich.
There is turmoil at Old Trafford, there is unrest, concern and division, there are planes flying anti-Moyes propaganda, there is the pro-Moyes banner adorning the stadium, there is, in effect, civil war on the verge of mutiny and even whispers of a coup d’état but tonight Old Trafford will sing.
Win, lose or draw tonight, David Moyes can use the visit from the Bavarians to reignite the passions of Red Devils’ supporters across the globe to forget, for 90 minutes at least, the troubles and failings and get behind the team, united. If he’s smart, he’ll use this tie and especially this first leg to whip up the pride, the equivalent to patriotism, the belief and the faith of yesteryear. If he fails, it doesn’t matter; the morale and the mood will have shifted for the better and, at the very least, he’ll live to die another day.