Manchester United: 2008 Was Our Year

arafat abdirahmanContributor IJanuary 2, 2009

I am elated. Celebrated Wayne Rooney’s goal like a loon.

There has been a lot of cynicism towards the merits of the FIFA Club World Cup, mostly from bitter rivals who would secretly love to have the chance to be there, but disappointingly from Manchester United fans as well. I do not know whether it is just snobbery or an insular parochial view to football in general, but it is unjustified.

We can officially call ourselves the best team in the world, a feat no other English team have achieved. Sure, you can prove yourself to be the best in your country, and the best in Europe, but can you really call yourself the best in the world when you have not proved yourself against the rest of the world, especially the best teams from the hot-bed of football brilliance that is South America?

David Gill made a good point that in 10-to-15 years, this trophy could be massive (no, not relegation zone Man City massive). And we have got our name on it.

The dismissive attitude some English fans show to this trophy has parallels with English clubs and fans in the 1950’s who showed disdain for the European Cup when it started out. English clubs did not even contest the first couple—too much hassle, not prestigious enough, apparently.

Real Madrid were cleaning up back then, perhaps benefiting from other club’s indifference to the competition, and every one of their titles won back then counts the same as one won today in the Champions League.

I saw at least one Quito player in tears at the final whistle, which shows you how much this means to them. But that should not be a surprise to anyone who understands what this trophy means to the rest of the world, particularly South America.

I remember one of Tim Vickery’s columns, where he explained how highly the competition is regarded in South America—their big chance to shine against Europe’s clubs. After winning the Copa Libertadores, the winning team will have immediately put that behind them and will be thinking ahead to ‘Mission Tokyo’ (as Vickery called it), to win the World title.

By contrast, the European (but particularly English) snobbery to this competition is unfortunate and unsavoury. But I am hopeful things will change. Back when the European Cup was treated with similar cynicism, we were pioneers, being the first English club to both compete in and win the competition. Again, we are blazing the trail for the rest of England’s clubs on the world stage. Champions of the world, and we will get a badge from FIFA to put on our shirts to prove it.

Come on United, let’s make sure we are back there next year to defend our title.