Another week has passed in the unpredictable world of Association Football, so what has gone on this week, and what has the world’s favourite sport taught us? Let’s look back now and pass a sage eye over the comings-and-goings and the to-ings-and-fro-ings in the soon-to-be regular feature, 5 Things I Learned About Football This Week.
1. If you’re going to make predictions, get ready to take the flack when they don’t come true
I was wrong. I admit it. On Wednesday, before Arsenal’s victory over Barcelona, I got up on my high horse and loudly proclaimed that the Gunners would not beat Barca – in fact I gave 5 reasons in explanation of my supposedly water-tight theory. Oh dear. Arsenal won 2-1; cue laughter, vitriol, abuse, mickey-taking and all the other fully-deserved comments you might expect.
I have to admit, it was fair enough – you raise your head above the parapet, you’re going to get shot and I accept the flood of comments. I’d just like to share a few of my favourites with you though:
“Hahahaha arsenal beat Barcelona so you are wrong hahahahahahahaha”
“Ha! Ha! Ha! Give me five reason WHY “ARSENAL” won. To tell you what? I have never been prouder to be a fan of “THE GUNNERS”.
“would u like to put some tomato ketchup on on your boots…make it more enjoyable to eat?….”
I like the succinct nature of the first comment; short, to the point and accurate. All I kept thinking about when looking at the second comment was the use of speech marks… if that is their “REAL NAME”.
And as for the final effort, I don’t understand it, but that sure as hell doesn’t mean it’s not bizarrely brilliant. They’re all classics, I’m sure you’ll agree, so thank you all. Anyway, to summarise, Arsenal did it, they beat Barca. Well done. (But they’ll get turned over at the Camp Nou!)
2. A 59-year-old Scotsman with glasses is harder than a 33-year-old Italian athlete
Everybody in football had something to say following the ugly incidents in the San Siro on Tuesday between AC Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso and Spurs’ Assistant Coach Joe Jordan; but amid the disgust and head-shaking at Gattuso’s outbursts, there was another running theme… Joe Jordanwould have Gattuso in an actual fight. Now, as terrifying as the sight of the toothless Glaswegian, nick-named ‘Jaws’, was in 1978, and even if he’d maintained that aggression, Jordan would surely struggle against a 33-year-old Italian bulldog with a blood-lust?
But, on the other hand, maybe Graeme Souness (Prediction: Jordan win within 5 mins) and Henry Winter (Prediction: Jordan win within 90 seconds) are right; perhaps Jordan could take that little upstart Gattuso? After all, if he gets in early, it might just take one swift blow to the muzzle to end the contest…
But enough of all this talk of disgraceful violence, let’s just hope they can sort their problems, Glasgow Kiss and make up… oops.
3. The FA Cup hasn’t lost its unique charm
Every year we find football writers anxiously wringing their hands as the FA Cup’s latter rounds approach once more. Oh, how can the competition continue when the big teams don’t care, they put out a third-string side, they care more about the Champions League and the Premier League, oh, what is happening to the world’s greatest cup competition? Blah blah blah.
Firstly, the FA Cup competition is not the exclusive preserve of the Big Four/Five/Six, there are plenty of games to play before that final in May – and every one offers the opportunity for a spectacular result, be it an unexpected mauling, an extraordinary come-back, or the most heralded of all, a giant-killing.
Secondly, only in the FA Cup do we see match-ups like the one witnessed yesterday at Old Trafford – Alex Ferguson’s mighty United took on Essex’s finest, Crawley Town of the Blue Square Premier. Despite being 93 places below their illustrious opponents, Crawley were brilliant. They gave a fantastic account of themselves, should have had a draw and earned the club £1million in TV rights – a great day for a small club and something which highlights the positives of the competition.
The FA Cup will never lose its special ability to shock and entertain and instead of worrying for its future, let’s embrace what’s great about it and continue enjoying games like yesterday’s.
4. Never have Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch as your two post-match interviewees
5. UEFA have an interesting view of what constitutes an ‘overpriced’ ticket
While we live in the age of the billionaire-owner and the mega-rich player, we the fans are, unfortunately, somewhat more limited in our means. This hasn’t stopped UEFA from announcing that for general sale tickets at this season’s Champions League final at Wembley , the cheapest price you can expect to pay is a staggering £150, PLUS an inexplicable £26 ‘administration fee’.
Hilariously, UEFA spokesman Giorgio Marchetti explained UEFA’s ‘generosity’ as follows “We don’t think that the Champions League final is overpriced. We do not want to squeeze every single penny out of the market.” He went on to explain that the £26 administration fee was in place because there are “costs involved”– presumably then the tickets are printed in gold leaf and couriered to fans by super-sonic jet-bike?
With this announcement, the price of the cheapest ticket for a Champions League final has almost doubled in just 2 years – when Manchester United lost to Barcelona in Rome 2009, a category three ticket was a relatively paltry £80. With the money already being pumped into football at every turn by the game’s dedicated fans, this level of pricing is a slap in the face and an unacceptable imposition by UEFA.