(Originally written in 2016 on my personal blog and updated in 2021)
2012/13 was my last season as an “official” Manchester United fan. It had nothing to do with Sir Alex Ferguson retiring, I’d just grown bored of football in general. I’m now back to caring but my attention lies elsewhere and in multiple places. These are the teams that keep me interested.
Sporting Club de Portugal (NOT Sporting Lisbon)
My new official team. I watched them play Olympiakos in the Champions League in November 2017 while I was on holiday and it was an incredibly chilled atmosphere. There was the expected buzz but no nastiness or hostility. And Sporting won! The club is going through a transition period after a number of their star players handed in their resignations, including #1 Rui Patricio, who left for Wolves on a free transfer. Manager Jorge Jesus, who left for the Al-Hilal job, was replaced by Siniša Mihajlović and I have no idea how that’s going to go. But we shall see.
As a joke, I proclaimed myself a Leicester City fan when they were coasting in their Football League Championship winning season in 2013/14. I could barely name two players in the team. I got serious in 14/15 when they were close to relegation and pulled off the great escape and managed to name about 5 players. The season after was stuff of legend. Leicester City becoming Premier League champions after kissing the bottom of the league only 18 months before is the stuff of legend and just what the championship needed. I can probably name 11 players now.
The next few teams hold some form of sentimental value because that’s what football is really about, right? I have been to Nice twice on holiday and it is easily one of my favourite cities in the world. They currently lead Ligue 1 and they’ve managed to turn stagnant water to Italian wine in the form of Mario Balotelli, who has 7 goals in 8 games for the Côte d’Azur side. Fingers crossed they can hold on for the title.
A Championship Manager challenge and subsequent domination of the world lead to my attachment to the German club. It was particularly exciting to watch them beat relegation from the Bundesliga on the last day of the 2012/13 season. They’ve gone from strength to strength since and recently recorded a 1-1 draw with the champions Bayern Munich.
This is a recent following and an excuse to watch Serie A again after a lengthy absence. Like many my age, I miss Football Italia with its goosebump-inducing intro and James Richardson’s gradual loss of hair. More importantly, it was an opportunity for the British masses to experience a top flight league on terrestrial television. Live Italian football on Channel 4 on a Sunday afternoon? Roast chicken and gravy can wait.