Old Trafford Must Play Its Part in Revival of Fortunes at Manchester United

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Old Trafford Must Play Its Part in Revival of Fortunes at Manchester United
Stu Forster/Getty Images

The result against West Ham was the same as against Stoke three days earlier.

If anything, it was more emphatic. But there was something missing at Old Trafford that had been there at the Britannia Stadium in midweek: the atmosphere.

The 4,000 Manchester United fans who travelled to Stoke on Wednesday night did what 76,000 couldn't at Old Trafford and made an absolute din.

In horrendous weather in the Potteries, the United fans sang from from the first minute to the last.

They sang about Adnan Januzaj, "the boy who can do anything," and about Wes Brown, the "hardest man in all the town."

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

When Darren Fletcher came on as a second-half substitute, they sang that they would be "on the pitch" if he scored. 

The United fans sang the same songs at Old Trafford on Saturday—but not with the same volume or the same passion.

The supporters who go to Old Trafford each week are capable of making a racket. It was rocking for the win over Liverpool in the Capital One Cup and for the defeat of Arsenal in the Premier League.

But while the away fans do it every week, the home fans don't. 

David Moyes was asked by the Manchester Evening News about the atmosphere at Old Trafford in his press conference on Friday. He said all the right things, but he's not yet in a strong enough position to start dishing out criticism of the club's fans:

I've never found Old Trafford nervy. I've found it a brilliant place to be. I found it the opposite. The crowd and support is fantastic. We have to get winning and score a few more goals.

He perhaps didn't know it, but he hit the nail on the head. The United fans at Stoke took it upon themselves to drive their team forward. 

But against West Ham there was a feeling that they were waiting for the players to give them something to shout about.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

There are sections of Old Trafford that do their bit, like the second tier of the Stretford End or the K Stand behind the opposite goal. But the atmosphere, in general, often comes in for criticism. 

United fans' groups have tried to do something about it, and against Real Sociedad, they tried out a singing section. The idea was to get create a small group of fans, like the one that follows the team away from home, that wanted to make a bit of noise at Old Trafford.

It was well-received, and there's talk of making it a permanent thing. But it shouldn't have to be.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Trying to manufacture an atmosphere is embarrassing for a club with a tradition of vocal support.

But it's not the fans trying to do something about it who should feel ashamed. What they are doing is admirable and, sadly, necessary.

It's the "fans" who go every week and sit in silence, sometimes moaning and groaning, who should feel uneasy. 

A football club is more than the 11 players on the pitch, and everyone must play his or her part, especially during a season when ferocious support will mean that little bit more. They can take their lead from the away fans.

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