Some things are worse than defeat

They say that what doesn't kill you, make you stronger. But this postponed game is killing me

I can think of only few things that worse than a postponed football game. It is easily worse than defeat. Every fan – be it of the most successful clubs – knows how to deal with defeat. Because defeats happen. But this postponed Chelsea-United game is pure despair.

These disturbing feelings teach us something about our life as football addicts. Some of us may be glory hunters. Others prefer the comforting notion of loyalty to clubs that are less than successful. Some may be hooligans causing a nuisance at stadiums while others prefer their footy with a beer in the surroundings of a friendly pub.

One thins is common to all. Football provides them with some structure in life. There is game day, and then a day to reflect on the results. Then follow a few days to analyze and assess the upcoming fixture – the tactics, the lineup. Etc. Then 24 hours of slightly unbearable tension. Finally, it is game time, the time to discharge your increasing anxiety. But what are you supposed to do with this anxiety when the game was called off?

Defeats are easy. You can overcome a loss with the excuse that “it was mere bad luck”, or “these things happen” or even the gratuitous “hats off for the way they played, they deserve the win”. You can restore your sense of psychological balance by blaming the referee or his sister.

But a postponed game is hell. A toxic mix of anxiety and emptiness.

A postponed match against Chelsea is doubly worse. Two weeks ago United’s game at Blackpool was called off, but somehow I managed to cope. How come? Because something did happen! United gained the desirable Game in Hand.

This was an important addition to the debate. If things went down you can always use “but United have a game in hand”. And if things are looking good – they are even better: “top of league, two points clear, and a game in hand!” A sense of optimism. It is like asking a girl at a party to come home with you and enjoy uninhibited all-night sex. She doesn’t agree but  smiles back at you and hand you her phone number.

But a game in hand against Chelsea, the number two contender for the EPL title? Nothing has been gained, nothing won. Nothing was accumulated – other than snow.


I live in a fourth floor apartment in a European city. The neighboring building has a steep tiled roof. A man is standing there, clearing the snow with his spade. If he slips on the frozen surface he will fall 20 meters into the street. Then he will die.

I am staring at him and the tension is killing me.

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