I will say it again:
Title victories I have found tend to sink in over a two stage process. There is first the week after the weekend before. That warm glow. You’ve had a day and night on the lash…the hangover…the hair of the dog…and then the return to work stinking of vodka, an overtly large Sunday carvery, and the smell of success. Through the week you chat to your mates. You rip the Scousers you know. Tweet everyone who ever doubted United..and in general start to feel ever so…..smug.
The second part normally comes much later. Almost as a flashback. In those horrible non-footballing months that someone decided to call ‘The Cricket Season’ ..you think back to glorious split seconds. Rooney’s flying overhead kick. Berba’s hattricks. Nani’s early devastating form. And of course this season…the smile of a certain Mexican. You will glow warm for weeks to come as this fuels your life source
But hang on!
The season isn’t exactly over!
Oh yes…we have a Champions League final to attend to. And were at ‘The Home of Football’ (TM) playing ‘The Greatest Team To Play Football In This Galaxy’ (TM)
Allegedly the worst team to ever EVER win a league title (as i hear as a prelude by anyone in the press when they mention us) are to face the might of Lionel Messi United and his Merry Muskehounds. If The Faithful were allowed to actually write the script as to how this last few weeks had gone…then surely this would have been how it all ended?
Barcelona play some pretty astonishing football. I grant you that. They are the modern version of Dutch Total Football. Their DNA reeks of Cruyff (Johan not Jordi) and they make Arsenal look like a pub team from Staffordshire. Never before has a club side been so lauded by so many. Ajax had such kudos in the 1970s. Liverpool were very good at getting the job done. Milan’s many incarnations showed the guile of the Italian nature. Madrid held their own reality TV show called ‘The Galacticos’. And United ourself…well we didn’t do too bad in 1999. Many clubs of excellence. But not one of them to compare to this Barca team.
Pep G has showed what you can do with a bunch of players who are barely tall enough to get on the rides at Disney. A thousand 10 yard passes. 80% ball retention. Full backs who think they are wingers. Centrebacks who think they’re midfielders. Midfielders who can score in the blink of an eye. And then…………you have…………Messi.
Is it really worth us turning up at Wembley!???
Well yes of course it is. If only so we can say we got hammered by the best team in the world.
This Champions League final may well be held in our very own country. But it might as well be held at the bloody Nou Camp….Camp Nou…whatever. We have no chance. Zip. Nada. Nothing
AND I LOVE IT!
In real terms were very much the underdog. Good. Happy with that. Outside of the usual circles I’ve hardly heard anyone give us a real chance. And I understand that I truly do. How dare we even think that WE could beat such a team of such royal heritage as the mighty Barcelona. Don’t we remember Rome just a couple of years ago? When we were duly bent over and given the most painful big match rogering in recent memory. Well…there isn’t a Red alive that doesn’t remember that night and all for the wrong reasons. One thing many forget is that on the night we were actually the favourites. Barca were missing half their defense, and many MUFC fans were completely blase. “Barcelona can attack but they cant defend”…I heard that one about 18 times a day after we had given Arsenal a spanking in their own back yard. “And we have Ronaldo…AND HE’S BETTER THAN MESSI!”…I also heard that way too much.
Anyhow….after a midfield capitulation of epic proportions we surrendered the European Cup we had won 12 months before in Moscow and we waddled off home to lick our wounds.
How things change in just 24 months….or not as it may seem!
So its Barcelona v Manchester United again. Once again we will be wearing white. Once again we will probably pit Giggs and Carrick in there against Xavi and Iniesta. And once again we are both champions of our respective giant footballing nations. The polar core difference though to the game in Rome is this. That Man Utd cant win this one. No Ronaldo. No Tevez as insurance. And a team that has a personality complex whenever it plays away from Old Trafford. There is only one winner. And it ain’t us.
This zero expectation is without doubt in my mind our biggest weapon against Barcelona. The script says that the big dog will take down the ever so slightly smaller dog. It’s not quite Liverpool V Wimbledon Cup Final preportions…but you catch my drift. Never before have I followed United into such a big game where we were the 2nd choice of almost every pundit on the planet…….
Except that is…..in 1991
The European Cup Winners Cup final of exactly 20 years ago…..
In a Manchester monsoon of rain…..against……..
It was an epic night. Robson, Bruce and Hughes proved you could beat a team that many thought was the best in the world at the time. Some thought Ronald Koeman would beat us on his own! But we flipped up the apple cart…and all of Barca’s fruit came crashing down on to the pavement below. Smashing into a beautiful scented pulp. We lifted the trophy. We hopped back across the channel. And we put English football back on the map at our first go post-Hysell. We proved that as the underdog…that we’re rather good.
So roll on May the twenty eighth. Ive never felt so relaxed about a game in all my life. If we lose 5-0 everyone will simply say: “well, that Man Utd team isn’t that good is it?”…
If we battle hard and they pip us with some brilliance, people will eulogize: “Barcelona are the greatest…but credit to this not very good Man Utd team for giving them a game”……
There will be no words
Except from us. The Faithful. As we carry home our 4th European Cup trophy.
Bring it on Barcelona. The Greatest Football Club In The World (TM) is waiting for you.
And so are we.