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.
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.
Following on from my last post, it seems that ‘Fergie Time’ has made it into the Urban Dictionary with the following description:
‘Fergie Time”: Any amount of time, in any football (soccer) match, which has been added on, in addition to the added time (injury time) that had already been prescribed at the end of the 90 minutes. Any amount of time that a match is played after the said amount of added time, is referred to as ‘Fergie Time’. (Added time of 3 minutes has been announced, play carries on after 93 minutes, player scores on 95 minutes).
I was also interested to see another entry in this section – ‘Fergie Watch’ which is a timepiece that runs contrary to the laws of physics. If your football team is winning after 90 minutes your watch actually runs faster than the referee’s. The other team’s coach has a watch that runs slower and the referee runs like the clappers whether you’re winning or losing. This is Fergie’s Watch.
Another exciting week in the world of football!
For those who thought it was a joke that Arsenal were turning to Henry, well, the old ones are the best. So much for the legacy being tarnished. So much for him losing his touch in the MLS. It had to be Henry scoring here, recording his 227th goal for Arsenal. The script was written, the stage was set. It just needed Henry to rise from the bench, replacing the disappointing Marouane Chamakh, whose shocking form was another reason why Arsenal need the man on loan from New York Red Bulls. No wonder Arsène Wenger wants to extend the loan to the maximum eight weeks.
For those lovers of symmetry, Arsenal’s No 12 struck his 12th goal in 12 appearances against Leeds 12 minutes from time. At the final whistle, as a fourth-round tie against Aston Villa was secured, Henry almost did not want to leave his field of dreams. The Leeds centre-half, Tom Lees, requested his shirt, but Henry was not in the mood for giving away such precious souvenirs. This was one for the private collection.
Jason might not stir the imagination like Thierry Henry but the veteran forward can expect an enthusiastic welcome on his competitive return to Wimbledon 11 years after he left south-west London.
So what about the latest headlines where it has been claimed that Eric Cantona is in the running for the French presidency? Even as the news was announced, igniting hope in his fans and a host of bad jokes, it felt like a dream. In the end, it was a sort of mirage.
Cantona had written a letter in the French newspaper Libération which seemed to state his intention to gather 500 signatures, the symbolic number needed to launch a campaign for the presidency. He described himself as “very much aware of our times” which he argued offer “limited opportunities” to the young and generate “violent” and “systematic” injustices. It sounded like the perfect platform from which a man most famous for a swift piece of retributive justice – that kung-fu kick – could launch an equally fiery and passionate campaign to unseat the current French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
It prompted much excitement and some excellent comments on Twitter, including many along the lines best expressed by the BBC presenter, Jeremy Vine, who tweeted: “Cantona wants to be the next president of France. Oh yeah, and Thierry Henry is going to play for Arsenal again and score the winner on his debut.”
But then the excitement crumbled just as rapidly as the current Manchester United frontline in the second half against City last Sunday. Cantona had played a blinder, sold a dummy, feinted in front of goal: pick the bad football pun of your choice. The paper’s deputy editor explained that the letter was not a presidential bid as such, but rather a call to get 500 mayors to sign a petition about the French housing crisis for the charitable Abbé Pierre Foundation.
Despite being voted as Manchester United fans “Player of the Century” last year, this is surely a stunt too far. Whatever will we see next? Beckham for Prime Minister or maybe even Sir Alex as Scotland’s next First Minister? Stranger things have happened I suppose.