Do football fans take as much pleasure seeing their rivals lose as they do when they win?

Carlos Tevez, Manchester CityWinning a great trophy or signing a class player is something that fans of any team would pray to God, the Devil and anyone in between for – well at least that was what I felt like in Munich, and if this happens the euphoria and mood afterwards is like no other. Yet how does a team feel when those dreams come crashing down around them – or more to the point, how do their bitter rivals feel? Do they get just as much joy and jubilation in seeing their arch nemesis lose and dreams shattered as they do in winning?

The season just gone in the Premier League was one of the best in recent memory for its twists and turns and last gasp results. On the final day of the season it was not just the utter jubilation that they had won the title which made City fans feel that indescribable joy, but the fact that they, in the dying seconds, had managed to wrestle the trophy out of United’s grasp and finally put to bed the ‘noisy neighbours’ tag – not to mention seeing Fergie’s face go from red to purple after the final whistle.

Likewise after Chelsea did the unthinkable and won what can only be described as an away game in the Champions League final, chants from the Blues fans in no small parts contained a rendition of ‘are you watching Spurs?’

Of course, these examples went hand in hand with the two trophies both clubs craved so much, but find me someone in the red half of Liverpool who did not take huge pleasure in United failing to win the title and I will find you a liar. In much the same vain, the red half of north London may as well have bled blue on that fateful night for Spurs in Munich such was their joy at the cruel twist of fate that lay in store for their neighbours.

Such behaviour can be seen across the footballing world – Barcelona fans taking huge joy at a Real Madrid defeat, Espanyol fans relishing the fact their neighbours had a poor season by their high standards. It is everywhere in football – perhaps more so than in any other sport.

I would be the first to admit, seeing a team you cannot stand miss out on a player or get knocked out of a competition is something to relish, yes perhaps an unsavoury quality in football fans, yet I doubt there are many of us who can say, hand on heart, when their team’s greatest rivals win and get title after title, they applaud them and look on admiringly.

Arguably, it is this need to win nature and competitive spirit that adds a special element to games – such as the North London derby, or a clash between Newcastle and Sunderland, and is what has helped created one of the greatest spectacles on earth in El Clasico. Yes, sometimes it would be better to be able to be the bigger person and say your rivals deserved it, but let’s face it, seeing their dreams shattered and them knocked out of a competition is sometimes as good as winning ourselves.