It’s bad out here, folks.
Manchester United’s 2021/22 season took a big ol plummet in terms of form and vibes early on. Exactly how early may vary depending on your outlook on a few topics, but everyone is probably at least a little bit correct, and the plummet occurred nonetheless. Even now as the football has gotten somewhat better the wins are still hard to come by, and unfortunately in this business the results matter regardless of how you got there.
So to (hopefully) assist in combatting the post-disappointment misery, here are some tips from someone who has spent his first season as editor of Manchester United constantly trying to carry on despite the results, bad news, and relentless toxicity. I’ve had to take a step back from it all on multiple occasions, and I hope my methods are helpful to you.
Unplug from Twitter and other toxicity for a while after a loss
Even though that’s where we all are during and after a bad loss, it’s really not a good idea to soak in it for too long. Especially when you start seeing the kind of opinions that make a loss that much worse. The toxicity really boils over and it’s best not to feed the machine. Let things die down, maybe even wait a day. Occupy yourself with something that makes you feel better about things if you have trouble taking a step back. It really is just a game, and the club doesn’t have to be everything to you even if it is important, and it’s not worth losing it over something completely out of your control (and that goes for the game itself as well as Twitter toxicity).
This goes for other social channels as well, and especially United YouTubers like The United Stand. Apart from the fact that most of them are insufferable attention seekers, none of what they say is productive. It’s all reactionary, and thus feeds that part of you that seeks to blame or praise.
Listen to Beach House
It doesn’t have to be Beach House.
Listen to whatever music calms you and understands you. For me, that’s usually Beach House, a band who’s music is basically like a psychedelic. It provides the perfect mood for introspection in a way that doesn’t induce anxiety, panic, fear, etc., and anyone who is enveloped in Manchester United enough to be reading, or indeed writing this article could almost certainly do with some of that.
Personal favorites are Wishes, Walk in the Park, and Dive among others. Of their newest album, Sunset has already entered my regular rotation. If you’re new definitely check out how you vibe with their more popular songs like Myth and Space Song, generally fits the rest of their stuff and they are very worthy of being their most popular tunes.
Here are some of my other post-United loss artists and/or albums:
Better Oblivion Community Center
Courney Barnett- Tell Me How You Really Feel
Arctic Monkeys- Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino and Suck It And See
Freddie Gibbs- Alfredo
Get outside, go for a walk
A little fresh air never hurt anybody.
Go for a walk, find a park, go for a hike, or even just sit outside for a bit and read or listen to music or something. Separate yourself from wherever you just watched the game and find somewhere you can enjoy a simpler view. For me it helps re-establish my mind in the moment when it’s otherwise been racing thinking about matters from another place or time. I even do this after a good performance/win, it’s a habit I developed early in Covid lockdown and I’m glad it’s one I’ve stuck with.
It’s worth noting, I live somewhere that’s not very crowded, and my “city” (if it can be called that) is pretty close to nature. I hope for everyone that isn’t the case for you can still find somewhere to take a nice stroll safely, or at least a place with a good view.
And another part of this, go and hang out with those close to you. This might seem obvious, but spending time with friends or family you’re close to can really help whenever you feel like you’re in a bad spot. It’s hard times even if you’re not a Manchester United fan, and maintaining a healthy social circle that you can escape with even for just a short get together goes a long way.
Do something you’re good at
Play a favorite video game, build a model kit, do a puzzle, cool a favorite meal, play piano/guitar. Do something that you are in control of.
When sports make you mad it’s easy to fall into the trap of hindsight. Of course the lineup/approach could have been different. Pretty soon you’ll be spiraling back in time to the start of the season, the many post-SAF failures, The Rock of Gibraltar, all the way to Martin Edwards and the start of the Premier League. Instead of soaking your brain in what could have been, focus it on something in the present. Something that you can build towards and see measurable progress in, or even just something that soothes and brings a sense of familiarity.
I went to the store and picked out a Lego kit for the first time in years after a loss a couple weeks ago, and building it was surprisingly therapeutic. Just putting something together and seeing a finished product was a nice way to spend my time. Maybe one day when I can afford to drop $300 on a Lego set I’ll even do the Old Trafford set.
Playing FIFA or whatever PES is called now can help sometimes, but getting away from football has been helpful for me in times of frustration. Something I can play with friends is especially helpful.
If you really want to break down performances, find the right material
If you really want to read/listen to/watch content on what is happening on the pitch there are plenty other writers and content creators who put actual work into analyzing the game rather than those who rant and slander players for the sake of subscribers. Tifo has some great videos on YouTube, Graceonfootball has an excellent Substack page, people like Aaron Moniz, Kees van Hemmen, Rahul, and Maram among many others are always posting about tactics and analysis, not to mention our own writers like Suwaid and Pauly. There are so many writers out there that are putting in the research and producing really good stuff on the modern game.
Even for those skeptical of diving too deeply into stats or analytics, I guarantee there’s something that you’ll at least find interesting out there. Please avoid the hate and negativity out there and find content that has meaning to it.
It’s helpful to break down the game and understand the moving parts at play in each performance, but it may not always quell anger and frustration. You should still be aware of when you need to disconnect and take care of yourselves and avoid the toxicity.
I really do hope this was helpful, I know with how much I’ve written about United this season and what problems I’ve seen that a lot of you probably don’t see eye to eye on those things, but ultimately my goal this season has been to keep some perspective and not get bogged down in the unfortunately dreadful state of things at the club I support. And if any of you have suggestions or tips for dealing with the bad times at United I’d love to hear them.
Like I said, it’s bad out there, and it’s good to take a step back and take care of each other and ourselves.