I had just got home after an evening out with friends, celebrating my birthday with a couple of Pimm’s and Lemonades. I unlocked my phone to see a few more lovely messages waiting to wish me a happy birthday. Always welcome. One of the messages read “Hope you’ve had a good birthday weekend. Although, just saw the club sold Alex Greenwood, so…”
I thought this was a pretty nasty joke to pull. I looked on Alex’s Twitter – nothing. Phew. Disaster averted. Then I checked the club’s official account. Oh. Disaster confirmed. This is not how I expected to jump back into writing about women’s football and Manchester United.
I thought I might write about the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 but never got the time or creative spark to get me going. I thought about writing a piece detailing how I think or believe we should line up in our opening match against Manchester City next month. Sadly, I was jolted back into writing about something I never expected to write about ahead of this season.
I have trouble recalling ever being so shocked and disappointed about a Manchester United player leaving. Cristiano Ronaldo? We knew he was going at least a year before he actually left. David Beckham? Sad, for sure – but inevitable after the falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson. Roy Keane? Shocking the way it happened but understandable and as he was nearing the end of his professional career, that lessened the blow. The only one coming to mind now takes me back to when I first became a Manchester United fan.
I started following just so that I could give my dad updates over the phone about scores while he was at work. My first memory of watching a United game is telling my dad that Eric Cantona had scored the goal to beat Newcastle United at St James’ Park at the end of the 1995/1996 season. My first full season as a growing Manchester United fan was the following one, when ‘The King’ gave us one final title before bidding us adieu. As this is the end of my first full season as a women’s team (if not women’s football) fan, I can’t help but notice the similarity, a captain leaving us when you least expect it.
I wish Alex the best. She deserves it, which is why I believe she is leaving us. I’m convinced that manager Casey Stoney talked with Alex who signalled to her that she wanted to leave and that’s why we have accepted the bid for her. I don’t know if this played a part in her decision, but I bet she was very disappointed not to be selected for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. Maybe it’s in her mind that to be the best you have to prove it at the best club.
Lyon are the European champions. Manchester United are in their second year of existence, recently promoted and preparing for their first year in the FA Women’s Super League. Alex is 25 years of age and an opportunity like this may not come knocking again. Those are the facts.
Beyond the facts though are the feelings. I would like to think that Alex, and indeed all of the women’s team, have never felt the same kind of love, affection, connection and support as they received in their inaugural season as Manchester United players. Personally, I am deeply saddened that I won’t get to see Alex fight with us in the FA Women’s Super League and maybe lead us to a few more trophies in the future. I understand her decision though.
Best of luck, Alex. Thank you for leading us from the FA Women’s Championship to the FA Women’s Super League. Thank you for being our captain. We love you and we will miss you. Adieu.
By Jack Morris (@ripper48)