Prior to the Champions’ League final Ronaldo went on a PR crusade doing interviews affirming his decision to stay on at United. “Manchester is my home”, he would say. He even did a spoof interview, where he interviews himself with a choice selection of canned questions that journalists are wont to ask. Has his Real Madrid dream really ended?
Following our defeat to Barcelona, he went back to his old ways. “I don’t know about my future. My future is with the national team”.
There’s been this nagging feeling at the back of my head; the press had built up United to be a monster that would just walk all over Barcelona. Even many fans were disturbingly over confident over our chances. Surprisingly, a good number of English non-United fans were also fairly confident of United’s chances.
With all the hubris surrounding the game and United in particular, there was one thought in my head: everyone is building this up with a chance of a spectacular fall lying in wait. That was a thought more due to my cynicism over any unduly gushing praise; even cockiness over a side that have been demolishing everyone left, right and centre — scoring well over 100 goals this season.
One may say this is hindsight talking, but I mentioned this prior to the match. I knew we were perfectly capable of beating Barcelona on our day, but I was also perfectly aware that it was foolishness to expect United would just walk all over them.
This is the big one. Win this and we become a part of history — lose this, and while some of the shine will be lost, there won’t be too much of a grudge losing to a side that has been awesome for most part of this season.
There has been plenty of talk about how United are favourites going into this game. Worryingly some sections of the media have been debating the margin of our victory rather than whether we’ll win this or not. Always trust them to build us up in preparation for a fall.
Before Sir Alex hands over his team-sheet to UEFA officials on Wednesday evening, you can’t be quite sure on the exact eleven that will take to the field in Rome. Will Carlos Tevez be afforded his United swansong? Will Rio win his fitness battle? Will Giggs or Scholes be given the nod? These are all realistic questions that will remain unanswered for a few a days at least.
Although one man that already knows he’s definitely going to be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Messi, Eto’o and Xavi is John O’Shea and boy does he deserve it.
So forgive me, if for once, I choose to not talk about Hull and rather focus the gist of my piece on Barcelona instead.
I received an email from Craig Murray (if you haven’t heard of Craig Murray, here’s his Wikipedia page), who sent me a link to a disturbing image and article centered around Barcelona — a club, he purports, supports a fascist dictatorship. [Link — Warning: Contains an image of a dead body, might be disturbing. Read with discretion.]
It’s been quite a regular occurrence of late hasn’t it? No I’m not talking about Ronaldo whinging or even a Carlos Tevez transfer story. I’m specifically referring to Wayne Rooney, his versatility and this endearing quality he possesses to play left wing.
There was a side show — an Arsenal game, which threatened, briefly, to become a party pooper — that ended 0-0. On an ideal day we would have wanted to win the game, but a draw is the next best option. The relief on the United players faces were palpable by what ended up being a case of holding on for the last minutes.
United have played far more number of games this season than their rivals — any arguments people make about footballers getting paid a lot, and hence they should break brick walls with their heads, and having deep squads can hold only so much water — and that showed in the dying minutes of the game. The players wanted the game to be over; the relief of getting done with a long, gruelling season was rather too tempting to pass up.
Today we must rejoice as United fans. It’s a historic occasion for the club to have earned its 18 titles. Ferguson’s done something that began as a dream in 92-93 and have shown good signs of continuing. May we never rise from this slumber, may that dream go on for many more years to come.
I could talk about the interviews with Carlos Tevez, and Ronaldo, which have sort of rained on our parade, so to speak. But I think these things, as well as a more objective look back at our season are best kept for another day.
We’ll Never Die.
Arsenal visit OT after a run of brutally demoralising results against us and a Chelsea side that was gutted only three days prior.
United play Arsenal with the knowledge that they don’t need to win, but this current side, with the awareness of making things easier, by winning it today and cooling their heels against Hull, drilled into them by the manager would know better than to relax today.
Or so, one would hope.