The security strap in front of Jamie Caplan read, ‘you are entering a red zone’. The supporter insists he saw red but did not cross a line when he started venting at the Manchester United dugout.
Mancunian Jamie, 25, was in attendance for his 12th United home game of the season and snapped when Kelechi Iheanacho headed in for Leicester on Saturday. He stood up and unloaded at those sat on the United bench.
The United technical director Darren Fletcher took exception and the pair exchanged verbals. Ralf Rangnick, stood in the technical area, was oblivious to the commotion.
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Security approached Jamie before he vacated his seat to applause from a handful sitting around him. He left of his own accord but was initially prevented from leaving the stadium and was stood on the concourse when Fred equalized three minutes later.
A self-employed architectural glazier, Jamie is currently out of work as he crashed his motorbike and suffered a broken wrist. He admits emotions were already high and they manifested at a stadium he first visited aged six.
“I’m not even bothered about the result,” Jamie tells the MEN . “At the end of the day, I care about the effort being put in and that was what my argument was about. It was like they didn’t care. The reaction from the bench was they didn’t care. The reaction from the players was that they didn’t care and that’s what I said.
“I said, ‘you don’t f —– g care’. It wasn’t directed at Fletcher personally or anything towards him. He’s the one who took offence and turned around and asked me who the f – k I was and to sit down. That’s when I went back at Fletcher because I took that very personally.
“I then went into a bit of a rage, so he didn’t say much then. And then Scott McTominay turned around. I couldn’t make out what he was saying because I was already walking up the stairs by this point.
“As a matchgoing fan. I put a lot of money into the club, I go watch them a lot. I watch a lot of non-league football, so I know the levels of them wanting it isn’t there (at United) You can go and watch any non-league team and see the difference, it’s a shambles.
“‘Where’s the f —– g fight? You don’t care.’ That’s pretty much word-for-word what I said. He (Fletcher) didn’t like it. But he can’t be in denial, he was there. He knows the standards that are required to be top-level. He was in a dressing room with Keane and if he turned around to me and say that’s a good enough United side then he’s a liar and I don’t believe him. Just look at all the old pros, they all say the same thing, it’s just not there, the desire. It isn’t there.
“I wasn’t the only one in the stadium shouting these things at the same time. When Fletcher is saying, ‘who are you?’ He’s not just saying it to me, he’s saying it to all of these people. “
Jamie was not ejected by stewards, who requested he sit back down, but he had had enough and strode up the gangway towards the exit, followed by a steward. Once on the concourse, Jamie was informed he could not leave.
“I asked to leave,” he explains. “I went up the stairs and then once I got to the concourse I was stopped from leaving the stadium. Up until that point.
“They’d actually told me to sit back down. I said, ‘it’s all right mate, I’m leaving’. Got up to leave, started walking up the stairs, and then they were following behind me and once we got down into where the bar bit is, that’s when they said, ‘you’re not going anywhere now, we’re getting GMP involved’.
“I tried to get past them to get out of the stadium, they just held me there. I had a bit of a rant again. Obviously, Fred scored and I can hear the United fans are cheering. And they all said, ‘ah look, it was all for nothing now ‘. At the end of the day, it isn’t for nothing, it isn’t a one-off thing. It’s been building up over a good couple of seasons now that they don’t care. “
Jamie was allowed to leave the stadium 10 minutes later and stresses his treatment was understanding. “They were fine with me, and we had a bit of a laugh. I said, ‘where are you taking me?’ and he said he was taking me to hell! I then walked out of the stadium and said, ‘you’re lucky I was allowed to leave and walk out of the stadium’. That was pretty much it from there. I was angry and I walked away. “
Some supporters clapped as Jamie strode towards the exit, although it was unclear if it was in support of his rant. The club has not been in touch with him since the incident and he intends to go back, just not in the mild-mannered south stand.
“To be fair, I’d lost it at that point,” he replies when asked if he noticed the applause. “I didn’t know what anybody else was doing. But if they were booing that was the only noise they made all game. I won’t be sitting in the south stand again!
“I was sat there, singing along on my own on that front row, probably a bit embarrassing. But I think that’s what the game’s about. It’s about going and venting a bit of frustration. There’s a line – I didn’t overstep any line, I wasn’t personal, so I just see it as a blowout and that’s what football’s about.
“If I’m allowed to go back, I will go back. It’s my club. I love it. I just love being there. I would go back, definitely.”
Jamie first attended a game at Old Trafford a month before starting Year 2 at primary school for the August 2002 friendly against Boca Juniors, seven months before Fletcher’s United debut at the stadium against Basel. He attended games sporadically until he started a ‘paper round at the age of 14, spending his earnings on’ going to any game I could ‘. He had a season ticket for four years that he reluctantly relinquished due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The club are open to speaking with Jamie to smooth things over and he is appreciative of some of the measures United have made this season. “They’ve acted with respect to the fans, it has been slightly better,” he says. “They’ve got fans on the advisory board now, we’ve got the singing section and the prices have come down, so they have moved things in the right direction, which I do appreciate. So hopefully that continues.”
“I would like to speak to the club and get it resolved, I don’t want to get banned but I am happy to stand up for myself and if a banning is what they decide, that’s what they’ll decide.”
“I’ve been to most of the home games we’ve had [this season]. I even did Middlesbrough at home. Burton Albion was another £ 40 a few seasons ago. I just love going to Old Trafford and sometimes the emotions do get the better of me and probably did a bit on this occasion.
“But I still don’t think I was in the wrong and I’d do it again.”