High Expectation Blues

This is going to be different.

In the past, I’ve written about the meaning of Christmas or about avoiding gift shopping debt in my columns running-up to the holidays, but today I’m going to write about football.

The point I’m hoping to make eventually, however, has more to do with how our expectations affect the enjoyment we get from the things we do.

Here’s how the beautiful game fits in. Manchester United and Arsenal played out an exciting, 2 – 2stale-mate last week at Man U’s Old Trafford home, and I believe the reactions of the players, staff and supporters tells us what they were expecting.

Arsenal took the lead twice with Manchester levelling the score quickly both times.

United then relied on their keeper to hold onto the draw, and at the end of the match, everyone associated with the home side seemed happy with one point.

In the past, that would not have happened… at least not during the 25 years the English Premier League has existed.

During that time, United won 13 titles and were seen as one of the top four or five clubs in the world.

They are still one of the richest clubs, and they employ three of the five highest paid players in England, but they have not been champions for five years and qualifying for Europe has become a more realistic goal than winning titles.

A lot of people would say lowering expectations is bad, but I’m not sure that is always true.

I think it has been a burden to be a Manchester United fan recently, so there is a lot to be said for supporters getting enjoyment from a home draw with a main rival for Champions League qualification.

I support Arsenal, who haven’t won the league since 2004, and while I don’t have any sympathy for United fans, I can relate to their plight.

A draw at Old Trafford would have been a good result for the Gunners during the past few years, but they have been on a good run and I was hoping for more.

That means, like Arsenal players and staff, I was expecting victory.

So, there you have it. Man U supporters were happy with a home draw against a team they would have expected to beat in the past, and I was disappointed with an away draw.

If football is just a game and watching the sport is supposed to be an enjoyable pass time, then I’m the one who lost out.

Hopefully that highlights how our expectations influence our enjoyment of life.

I’m writing about this today because Christmas is around the corner and many of us will soon be exchanging gifts with family and friends.

That should be a joyful experience, but quite often it is filled with tension and disappointment.

I think that happens when gift getting expectations get in the way of the joys of giving.

So, maybe the best gift we could give this year would be reining in our expectations about what we are going to receive.

That’s not an easy thing to do, but it might make for a merrier Christmas… and it certainly would be different.

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