Wednesday, 21 May 2008

United ascend those Russian steps

Much of the best and some of the worst of what the English Premier League has to offer was on display in the Champions League Final tonight -- passion, commitment, moments of great skill and high drama; but also clumsy challenges, niggling responses and a petulant sending-off as tempers boiled. Watching Bobby Charlton lead Manchester United up to the podium at the end provided a moving recollection of a past era of tragedy and triumph: one that somehow transcends the drumbeat of money to which the modern game all-too-often resonates. Oh go, on, call me a hopeless romantic. United merited their victory for the season and their history, if not particularly for their second half in Moscow.

Paddy Power lost a cool million on the first goal, apparently. But his firm won't be crying for long. There was poetic justice, too, in Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty miss, which left him relying on his team (and particularly Edwin Van der Saar) to bail him out. He told ITV immediately after the match that he'll stay at Old Trafford. Yesterday that would have been a scoop. Tonight no-one has picked it up.* There will be few tears for Didier Drogba, either. A great player, but he pretty much announced he was there for a trophy payday before heading off (possibly to Inter with Mourinho) and ended up with a red card and a loser's medal instead. Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Avram Grant, now unjustly destined for the chop, and captain John Terry, whose slip for his penalty cost his team a win, deserve genuine sympathy.

* In this respect, ITV's News At Ten promptly missed its own story... and also implicated Law in the '68 win he didn't appear in. A characteristic performance from them.


Anonymous said...

I don't have sympathy for Terry.
I think he has attempted to cheat in the past and has frequently tried to bully referees - and less gracefully than Willie Miller at that.

Simon Barrow said...

Yeah, I have little time for his hard man stuff. But on this one I think you have to feel for him. Well, I do.