Paddy Kenny’s return to Bramall Lane on Saturday made me think long and hard about the welcome we give to players on their return to former clubs.
Should we make our feelings known as to why they left even though we probably only know half a story, or should we thank them for their once loyal service and put aside our feelings of being seemingly let down?
Fans tend to have long memories in football, John Terry and Ashley Cole will testify to this.
However, the hoards at down town Bramall Lane did not have to wait too long for Kenny’s return after the fixtures were announced.
Bramall Lane can be an intimidating place at the best of times for any opposition or fans but to be returning in only the second game of the season, and the first home match, could not have been scripted better, or worse, depending on where you stand on the debate.
In truth, for Kenny, this has come far too quickly and the rawness was still plain to see. These games are those that the player in question wishes would come and go in a flash. Kenny is no exception.
The now QPR manager, and former United boss, Neil Warnock signed Kenny from Bury in October 2002 and he went on to become a firm favourite with the Blades fans.
He had his personal problems, which were highlighted in the press, but his performances for the Blades were very good and nobody doubted his wearing of the number one shirt. In total he made over 250 appearances for the club and earned seven International caps for Ireland.
However, these memories have been consigned to the past by 'Unitedites' as if they never happened. Only what has happened over the last couple of month’s matters to the United fans attending this game.
Any faint hopes that Kenny might be welcomed back to the Lane were soon dashed as he appeared from the tunnel in to a hostile atmosphere.
In stark contrast, Warnock was welcomed back as an icon in United’s history. Kenny’s abuse continued for some time but luckily for him United’s dismal first 25 minutes, finding themselves three goals down, led to the crowd turning their anger on Kevin Blackwell and demanding his head rather than continue venting their hatred.
Paddy Kenny’s circumstances are no different to most other footballers who move clubs.
Let’s not forget his tireless fundraising for Bluebell Wood hospice. This to me says more about Paddy Kenny as a person that he would give up his spare time to do such a thing. He could easily have just sat in front of the Playstation or frittered away his earnings by gambling.
What good then is gained from booing players? Are we not just booing them because we feel as though our club has been rejected and the player feels as though they will be better off elsewhere?
Paddy Kenny has left, we must wish him luck, but above all we must be united now as a club and look to the future with our new manager and pushing for our rightful place in the Premier League.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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