Thursday, May 22, 2008

Congratulations Manchester United!

Bet you didn't expect to hear that coming from a Leeds fan eh?
Well whatever, I watched perhaps the most exciting European Cup Final match of modern times last night, and loath though I am to admit it, the best side won. They were only just the best side though, by a whisker, but I felt they deserved it.

High points and low points?

Ryan Giggs, whom I've always admired, breaking professional misery-guts Bobby Charlton's club record number of appearances, when he came on late as a sub. Nice one Giggsy. If only you'd been English instead of Welsh, what might have been...sigh...

Didier Drogba blaming everyone but himself, every time he cocked up, and typically play acting outrageously, feigning agony every time someone made a bit of physical contact with him. This from a huge man, built like an oak tree.

John Terry's heartbreak at losing Chelsea the match when he slipped and blew his penalty. I felt genuinely sorry for him.

Carlos Tevez, playing like a terminator, unstoppable and determined, for me the man of the match, for all Ronaldo's flowery skill.

Ronaldo literally dancing round opponents, seemingly touching the ground only fleetingly, as though he weighed no more than a feather. Love him or loathe him, you have to admire him.

Wayne Rooney's anonymity throughout almost the whole game. What's happened to the British Bulldog Chewing a Wasp? Where was he? The boy wonder of Everton and his early ManUre appearances was worryingly (from an England perspective) ineffective.

Joe Cole's head-slapping histrionics when the linesman failed to award the blues a (deserved) corner. Ho ho.

The ManU players applauding the Chelsea players as they trudged up in the belting rain, to collect their loser's medals and crackerjack pencils.

Avram Grant standing in the deluge, hugging a disconsolate John Terry, his suit darkening as the rain soaked into it, looking like a man comforting his own son. Touching.

The mediaeval style crimson and gold painted executive seats, which resembled the sort of throne-like seats rich robber barons and suchlike might have sat on at major jousting tournaments in the 14th century. Roman Abramovich was sitting there.

There were loads more; the certainty that Nicolas Anelka would miss his penalty. You just knew it, as he stepped up to the ball, his body language that of a man who didn't believe in himself.

One last point: when Chelsea, and then Man United, all trooped up to shake hands with Michel Platini and the rest of the UEFA bigwigs, and to collect the trophy in the latter case, there was, strangely and slightly mystifyingly, a young woman, in beautiful national costume, standing in the row of football and Muscovite dignitaries. The players and club officials mounted the platform and shook hands with, hugged or spoke to, every man along the line of suits. The girl stood there, applauding the players, smiling bravely, as every single one of them ignored her completely.

It wasn't as if she was stood at the back, or right at the end; she was right there, prominent in the line-up. Her costume was magnificent, and made more so, flanked as it was by drab, if expensive grey suits. She herself was stunningly beautiful, so much so that the oversized, vulgar trophy that is the European Cup was completely outshone by her proximity. Not one of the players even looked at her, or offered a comment on her fantastic costume, or even acknowledged that she existed. Football eh? It's (still) a man's world.
Of course, the media this morning is predictably full of photos of the players gurning and waving their giant silver phallus at the crowd, but the invisible token girl proudly wearing her national costume can just be seen in this image (below) over on the far left...

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