Nepali Times
ManU in ’Mandu


With satellite and cable,the whole world is in the grip of football fever.And your favourite team need not be your small hometown club.Today, there are Arsenal fans in Asan, Juventus fans in Jawalakhel and Chelsea supporters in Chabahil.

But it is the show-biz type glamour of Manchester United that has grabbed Kathmandu fans like nothing else -all thanks to the integration of sports with global media, merchandising and worldwide Internet fan networks.No place on earth is too far to follow your favourite team 's progress through the leagues.

Manchester United is the most famous football club from the land of the craziest football fans,England.It is famous all over the world for celebrity players,flamboyant tackles and attack combinations.And Nepalis too have succumbed to the ManU bug. Patan entrepreneur Devendra Bahadur Shrestha is an avid ManU fan."I used to be a supporter of Arsenal during the \'Road to Wembley ' era but after ESPN started airing the premier leagues Manchester United got my attention.It 's one of the most well behaved teams in the game," he says.. (Road to Wembley used to be broadcast weekly by Nepal TV before the cable days.)

ManU fans are all praise for their team 's stylish and accurate passes,their offensive formations which never seem to fail."When David Beckham files a cross it 's sure that either Dwight Yorke or Andy Cole will head it in," says Devendra "I 'm sure that ManU will take the cup this year.With Sir Alen Fergusson as their head coach,ManU 's got to be the best." Many Kathmandu fans are glad that British law did not allow media baron Rupert Murdoch to buy ManU."It 's no fun if a British Club is owned by an Aussie," says Devendra,, who doesn 't seem to know that Murdoch now has US citizen- ship."The whole aura of being a truly English Club changes and besides I 'm sure it would make it more commercial and would spoil not only the name of the club but also the game."

Kathmandu fans are football purists.Sandeep Shrestha is a computer programmer and a Liverpool loyalist.He thinks ManU may be better,but Liverpool has won more than 18 premier leagues till now.He asks:"Can ManU beat that?"

Sandeep is among fans who think that ManU is too confi- dent for its own good.Players like Beckham are too arrogant and just because he is married to Posh Spice he thinks he is a star. "He 's more into uplifting his celebrity image then his game. In contrast look at Jeremy Rednap or Gary Maclaster from Liverpool.They are among the best strikers," he

College student Bishal Karki says it doesn 't matter if ManU players are equally well known off field -as long as they win."No one can beat Manchester United.It 's the best club and has always been so," he says with an air of finality "Look at Bobby Charlton in the 60s,Eric Cantona these are all ManU figures."

ManU fans are all praise for their team 's determination and never-say-die attitude.Also,they like the fact that ManU players are mostly English players, despite the induction lately of French sensation,keeper Fabian Barthez.Says Bishal:"If you watch other clubs they have all these foreign players. There 's no fun in watching the EPL if it 's filled with foreign players."

It 's not just Kathmandu men who are ManU fans.Garima Rana is a law student and thinks Manchester has been consistent over the years and has good pace.She says,"Their game is a lot more exciting and the players have passion.I 'm also impressed by the way they handle the media pressure." Garima is a sports buff,and watches cricket, women 's volleyball and football on cable.Adds Garima:"In the final analysis,what is important is that ManU always delivers at the end of the day."

Another Manchester United fan is college student Niren Rajbanshi,who thinks the team will definitely win the English PremierLeague."There are other good teams to watch for as well but the victors will surely be ManU," he says..

Fans admit that ManU gets a lot of media hype,and sometimes this can be counterproductive, but they say their team gets media attention because they play well.Fans are keeping fingers crossed for ManU, but they say the chances of Liverpool,Chelseaand Arsenal cannot be written off just yet.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)