They’ll never sing alone again at Manchester United

Old Trafford adopts the rhythm method


You only sing when you’re winning: the poor dears at Old Trafford have been concerned for a while about the lack of audible crowd support for their expensively assembled XI. Their core fanbase (stockbrokers from Surrey who want to know if the prawn sandwiches are lo-fat and salt-free) are lacking somewhat in Va Va Voom when it comes to home support. And that’s not good for the brand.

The club have just taken the extraordinary step (extraordinary in that it really shouldn’t be necessary for any self-respecting football club) of opening a “Singing Section” at Old Trafford, which will make its debut on October 23rd at the Real Sociedad match. A grand total of 1,400 Man U fans who like to sing will be corralled into this area, where they will run through their breathing exercises and practising scales (or something) before kick-off.

This is on the back of a report by an “acoustic engineer” who found that the only way to increase home fans noise levels was to get the fans singing – loudly.

Football banter, whether humorous, egregiously offensive or just a plain Delia-style “Let’s be ’aving you”, is an underestimated part of the game – as in the more general role of music in football.

How often do you see Premier League footballers alighting from a coach with their Dre Beats headphones clamped to their ears? How often do interviewers ask players who’s in charge of the pre-match dressing room “motivational music” selection? Even if the answer is always either R Kelly or Snoop.

Scientists have now proven that music can increase a team’s performance on the pitch. A team from the University of Hanover (German efficiency) looked at how players reacted to receiving the same music at the same time, as opposed to different players receiving different music at different times, as opposed to receiving no music at all.

The team who all heard the same music at the same time played more passes, passed more accurately and scored more goals than the other two teams in the study. Hearing the same music at the same time “had a medium to large effect on the footballers’ performance” concluded the wonks.

The point here is that music can be vocal, ie the mass singing emanating from home fans (as long as it’s the same song and different sections of the ground are more or less all singing in time). A number of top footballing coaches have already expressed an interest in the Hanover study (as in: where do R Kelly and Snoop fit into this picture?) and the study is believed to be the reasoning behind the new Manchester United “Singing Section”.

There is also evidence to suggest that a team who practise while listening to synchronised music will develop an optimal footballing rhythm. If this is rehearsed often enough, the players should be able to replicate this rhythmic style of play even in the absence of that music (away games, poorly attended home games).

There is life beyond Eye of the Tiger being blasted out on the Tannoy system as the teams run out. With so much at stake financially for clubs these days , it will be out with the head shrinks and the demented Eileen Drewery types and in with the music experts explaining rhythm in some detail.

You only win when you’re singing.

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