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Dry your eyes mate!

I do hope Sir Alex Ferguson has recovered this morning from Manchester United’s exit last night from the Champions League – too “distraught” to face the media apparently, the purple-nosed one declared himself to be “in no fit state to talk”.

They were beaten by Real Madrid in the second leg, having been reduced to 10 men after the controversial sending off of Nani in the 56th minute and there has been the usual outcry from United fans about the unfairness of the sending off as it changed the game entirely.  Up to that point they were undoubtedly the better side and it looked likely that they would definitely proceed to the next round.

In  any game of football, however, a player is asking for trouble by connecting with an opponent’s midriff.  Nani’s boot was definitely raised with painful consequences, accidental or not.  That said, there was still palpable shock when the red card was brandished.

Nani's high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa that earned him a red card.

Mourinho’s decision to bring on Luka Modric straight away was a masterstroke and it was then Ronaldo, until that point largely subdued, reminded Old Trafford why he is such a formidable destroyer of defences.  Both players scored within three minutes of one another and, however impudent it was for Mourinho to shake Ferguson’s hand and set off for the dugout with the final exchanges of stoppage time still to be played, the truth is the game had already been won.

At the final whistle, with one manager unable to bring himself to talk and another contemplating another pulsating Old Trafford victory for his collection, what we are left with is the whining of the United fans who feel they were robbed of the chance of further glory in this competition and a Turkish referee who will have probably needed a police escort leaving the stadium, before a swift flight back to Istanbul this morning.

But at the end of the day, it is just a football match – no-one died.  So I leave you with the chorus to this well-known song by The Streets, [adapted to suit the gender change!]:

Dry your eyes mate
I know it’s hard to take but [his] mind has been made up
There’s plenty more fish in the sea
Dry your eyes mate
I know you want to make [him] see how much this pain hurts
But you’ve got to walk away now.

Ferguson crying

Give us a smile … you’ve won!

This morning Andy Murray is $1.9m better off after [finally] winning a Grand Slam and in doing so has ended Britain’s 76-year wait for a male Grand Slam singles champion with an epic victory over Novak Djokovic in the US Open final.   Murray, 25, emulated Fred Perry’s 1936 achievement, winning 7-6 (12-10) 7-5 2-6 3-6 6-2 in four hours 54 minutes in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York.  Beating the world number two and defending champion makes him the first British man to win an Olympic gold and the US Open in the same year.

It was incredible that Murray served out the championship 76 years to the day – on the same court – that Perry won the first of eight major singles crowns but I should imagine the 4 hours and 54 minutes that it took were the longest of his life!

Murray had plenty of noteworthy fans in the stands cheering him on, including a pair of Scots who crashed his news conference after his semi-final: actor Sean Connery and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.   Also spotted in the crowd were Patrick Stewart and Kevin Spacey.

For the last few points everyone was on their feet, desperately hoping that they were just about to witness something special and for once they weren’t disappointed.  As Andy sank to his knees, the relief on his face was palpable and I swear there was just the smallest hint of a smile on his face.  He did say in his post match interview that he was “smiling on the inside” but as usual it didn’t quite make it to his mouth!

A fabulous end to a great summer of sport for the UK and a belief that maybe, just maybe, we’re getting better at this sport malarkey!

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