As a self-confessed sports addict, it’s probably easier to list the sports I don’t like and don’t enjoy watching rather than those that I do. I don’t like Formula One, that’d be the sport at the top of my list. If I wanted to watch noisy vehicles polluting the atmosphere whilst driving in a line I’d go and stand on the motorway bridge just by my house. I don’t like horse racing much, either. Not necessarily because horses can get hurt when competing, but because I lose an extraordinary amount of money the rare occasions I do go to “the races”. There are a few others – rugby league isn’t my thing, squash, gymnastics – but that’s probably the end of the list, which is why this past weekend I was enjoying the drama of golf(!), and an incredible Ryder Cup.
Wasn’t it marvellous? The undoubted star of the show was Colin Montgomerie, who gave an absolute master class in talking about himself at every opportunity. I’m serious – every opportunity – the zenith of which was the conclusion of Sky’s broadcast when he actually said goodbye to the viewers on behalf of the great Butch Harmon. At the time, I thought Monty’s chutzpah was extraordinarily arrogant, but a few days on, I’m re-thinking things. Maybe to be a top sportsman and a competitor like he was, you have to have the ego, the self-belief, the attitude. Maybe you have to be steadfast in your opinion that you’re the best at what you do, and that if you’re playing a team sport you’re still contributing and helping the cause. Thinking about it a bit more, maybe this isn’t just Colin Montgomerie. Maybe it’s also Ryan Giggs.
Because it’s painful to watch Giggsy nowadays. I’m sorry, but it is. Anyone can have a stinker – even Messi, Ronaldo et al – but it wasn’t so much the Welshman’s nightmare performance which was the problem on Saturday evening, more the fact that it was so staggeringly predictable. With Young and Valencia injured, and Nani on the right, we needed someone on the left hand side and Giggs was asked to “do a job”. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se – Ji Sung Park made a career out of “doing a job” for us about 10 times a season for 5 years – but when the guy you call upon to do the job is lacking, it’s a tough decision to defend. I would have had Kagawa on the left, but Sir Alex went with Giggs alongside Carrick and Scholes, a selection which I think we all knew was going to backfire when put up against a pacey and mobile Tottenham midfield. So it proved, as we went in at half-time 2-0 down. Giggs didn’t appear for the second half.
One thing or another is happening here. Either Giggs knows he’s done, and he’s picking up his paycheck every week without giving a toss (which I don’t believe for a second, by the way) or he’s in Montgomerie mode – still believing that he has something to offer, his self-belief and ego clouding his judgement. You would hope if it was the latter, someone would perhaps gently tell him that it’s time to call it a day, but then I remember Gary Neville’s last few performances.
Against West Brom and Stoke, if I remember correctly, Neville could/should have been sent off in both, and he looked utterly lost out there on the pitch. Yet nobody at the club said “Mate, come on now”. Instead, the finest right-back we’ve ever had made the decision for himself, and it was the right one. I’m scared the finest left-winger we’ve ever had isn’t going to be doing that anytime soon, however, and it’s a very depressing thought. Doom and gloom, I know, but we always feel like the world is going to an end after a defeat, particularly one at Old Trafford. As it is, we always start the season slowly, so I’m not too worried yet, though the midfield is a permanent area of concern nowadays.
Onto tonight, where we play a side called Clunge, or something. I’m not a connoisseur of European football I’m afraid, so I don’t know anything about our opponents, but it will be an interesting game. I love the Champions League, and last year was bloody awful as we had to sit and watch other English teams progress to the knockout stages, so hopefully we don’t muck about in the group stages this time around. Enjoy the game (ignore that if this is published after full-time, ta) and I’ll see you all here next week for another week in football, when I’ll hopefully be feeling/writing a lot better than I am right now. Tatty-bye!