Another week passes, and another bit less likely it becomes that UEFA will re-instate United into the second round of the Champions League, but still…
Chelsea vs Barca – What part of the TV coverage for this is likely to get extremely annoying first, the constant, ridiculous bias towards Chelsea over every single refereeing decision, and hyping up about them having Barcelona “on the ropes” every time they make it out of their own half? Or the constant need to remind everyone that Barcelona are the best team in the history of the world every time they string a few passes together? At least we wont have the repeated “victory for football” proclamations that accompanied the build up to last year’s embarrassingly one-sided Barcelona vs Arsenal tie. In fact, if Chelsea win, it’ll sort of be like someone ambushing football in a dark alley and brutally beating it to within an inch of its life.
John Terry, idiot man – John Terry has cracked his ribs. John Terry is well tough though. John Terry will play on through the pain. John Terry must also tell everyone how he’s playing on through the pain so they can all congratulate him on what a courageously tough leader he is…Guess what though John? People play through injuries all the time. Most of them don’t feel the need to announce to the world that they are doing so. Aside from not everyone being egotistical narcissists, there is a very good reason for this. Here’s a hint as to what that reason is; If I was playing against Chelsea next week, guess who’s ribs I’d accidentally elbow from every single set piece?
Blackburn Rovers fans – Do any of them actually support Blackburn, or generally know what it is they’re supposed to be doing? Judging by their usual attendance levels, about 90% of them only turned up to watch Manchester United on Monday night, and yet about 90% of them started to leave as soon as Manchester United started winning. What exactly did they turn up expecting to see then? Meanwhile, the other 10% are the ones that usually just turn up to protest against Blackburn Rovers.
Ronaldoism, with Gareth Bale – People have developed a habit of comparing Gareth Bale, often sarcastically (or unsarcastically, if they’re idiots), with Lionel Messi. I find this odd, since with each passing week, Gareth Bale looks more and more like someone desperately pretending to be Christiano Ronaldo. The diving, the attention seeking, the free kick posturing, the endless posing. It’s all there…well, it would be, except he’s missing the “score 50 goals a year and drag your team to the Champions League final” part, which is quite important. See here’s the thing. As a United fan, I could barely stand Ronaldo’s antics and posing when he played for United, I merely put up with it because he scored about half of our goals. Gareth Bale scores about ten goals a year. What does he think he’s doing? Why not just stick to being good at football instead of trying to incorporate being good at being a complete tit into the mix?
“That’s the kind of thing you would usually see in the WWE” – What, shirt pulling? Wrestlers don’t even wear shirts.
The Sky Generation – According to SkySports, United fans had to “bring themselves” to support London club Arsenal against tital rivals and hated local adversaries Manchester City. I can’t speak for all United fans, but personally, after much soul-searching, pondering and self conflict, I just about managed to bring myself to route for the draw.
Lee Mason – I know officials have a difficult job with the amazing speed of the game today and what not (this week alone Premiership football broke the sound barrier on 59 separate occasions), but was it possible to get that decision any more wrong? Not only was Ashley Young not onside, not fouled, and not about to score a goal, but Lee Mason reacted to it so quickly he actually sent off Derry about five seconds before the incident even occurred. The linesman will get stick for not flagging for offside…but how could he have when the red card was out before it was even clear if Young was interfering with play? Technically Lee Mason would have got this less wrong if he’d awarded a penalty to QPR.
Balotelli o clock – Congratulations to Mario Balotelli who, this weekend, broke the record for “most amount of times a player has made a complete twat of themselves in the space of one game” (The previous record of 9 was set last week, by Mario Balotelli). Amazingly, Balotelli even managed to make a twat of himself twice AFTER being sent off. First trying to square up to the referee, and then by taking longer to sulk off the pitch than Tim Krul takes to take a goal kick.
The great title race of 2012 – Every year, the title race is billed as being the “most exciting in years” as various teams are bigged up as “genuine contenders”, installed as favourites after racing into a 1 point lead, or hailed as the greatest side since that Brazil one from that World Cup no one can remember. Then, after Christmas, Spurs and Arsenal capitulate into a useless fumbling mess, any club who aren’t United or Chelsea crumble feebly under weight of their own self-induced expectation, and by the time the finish line is in sight, the title race has turned into the exact same two-way slug fest it has been since 2006…except this time Chelsea are so rubbish it’s actually the least exciting title race in years.
Kit watch – What’s with certain teams suddenly thinking it’s acceptable to play in orange? First Swansea, and now Newcastle are chancing their arm. This is how it works; unless you’re Holland, you’re not allowed to play in Orange. Playing in Orange when you’re not Holland, doesn’t make you look like Holland, it just makes you look like a cheap version of Blackpool. Unless you’re Blackpool, in which case it just makes you look like Blackpool.
Sir Alex vs Mancini – To be serious here for a second, I often think a lot of people (including United fans) misunderstand exactly what it is that sets Sir Alex apart from everyone else. They’ll usually point to his tactical awareness, ability to manage his squad, spot a good signing, or point angrily at his watch. Whilst he’s hardly inept at any of these, they aren’t what make the difference between good and great.
Here’s why I really admire Sir Alex and think he’s unique; He will never, ever, say or do anything to make him or his team appear vulnerable or weak. It’s all about being the best, and with everything he does or says, every move he makes, constantly demonstrating he’s the best, that his team is the best. An endless display of superiority to the pretenders who might otherwise fancy themselves to take his throne. It’s why United fans are never going to hear him complain about the Glazers or the alleged lack of funds available to him…because doing so portrays weakness. If he knows he has a weakness, he’ll address it, but he’ll never admit to anyone that it’s there. Even when he’s complaining, it’s always with the air of demanding more from his team or those around him.
Compare that to Mancini. Increasingly of late, he comes out, says something that makes him sound weak, makes you question whether he really believes in his team or himself, and then he slumps off again. He’s not alone either. Benitez was the same, only insaner. Wenger’s been routinely reduced to a quivering wreck. Even Mourinho started bleating on about the inadequacy of his egg basket. Ferguson could write a book on how to be a winner, and it’d be the best book on how to be a winner ever, because he wouldn’t allow himself to let it be any less.
This is what carries over to every Manchester United team he assembles, and constantly gives them the edge where any other team’s belief and composure would falter. I feel a bit for Mancini. I think he’s a nice guy who probably knows how to win, but he’s never faced anything like this before, and it’s making a fool of him. He’s starting to look like a man whose doctor has just told him he has a week to live…whilst driving off in a car with his wife…and pet dog.
The “was he booked for diving, or was he booked because the ref thinks he’s a racist?” award – Luis Suarez
Live on air fight with a microphone award – Alan Parry
Randomly remembered player award – Andy Goram. Not the Andy Goram who used to play in goal for Manchester United. The other Andy Goram…who used to play in goal for Manchester United. Or rather, who played in goal once for Manchester United, against Coventry in 2001. This was the same game in which Ryan Giggs scored a 30 yard curling header, which everyone reacted to as if it was a perfectly normal thing to happen. Andy Goram also played some games for Scotland and a number of other teams, probably…I don’t care.