First and foremost, a huge thanks to Gareth and Dan for holding the fort for a couple of weeks whilst I slowly died from manflu.
So what’s been happening? The answer, annoyingly, is not a lot. I should have delayed my return till next week, quite frankly.
Let’s have a quick run through of the weekend’s football anyway…after an entertaining game at the Stadium of Shite (am I right Mackems, eh? Eh?) between Sunderland and West Brom, the games offered up to us by the television companies for the rest of the weekend all went down like three farts in a lift. Villa 0-0 Arsenal? I went out for dinner at half-time, didn’t bother watching the rest. (Just whilst I’m on this subject quickly – what exactly do KFC think of their customers? You want me to eat this…out of a bucket? A BUCKET? I’m not a savage!) Onto Sunday, and Swansea 0-0 Liverpool, which was vaguely watchable but still won’t last long in the memory. Liverpool, by the way, brought their only out-and-out striker, the ratfaced cheat, on midweek against Young Boys (careful now) before starting him against the Swans this weekend. He’s playing every game, seemingly – be careful Brendan, we wouldn’t want him burning out after Christmas would we?
“Super Sunday” proved to be a misnomer, as the 0-0 at the Liberty was swiftly followed by a diabolical 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea-City bored each other into stalemate. As witty and hilarious as I clearly am, not even I can reflect on that match with a barrel load of jokes and observations, so utterly boring it was. As it is, Mancini and City will take the point, and after a week of turbulence I think Chelsea will too. So, it wasn’t great, but at least the match was illuminated ever-so-slightly by numerous “Rafa out” placards dotted round the Bridge. As a former Liverpool manager, fair to say I don’t like the guy and his “fachts”, but “Rafa out”? Really? The first time I saw one of those signs was in the 35th minute. I know the guy who was holding it brought it into the stadium with him, but I do like the idea of him watching the first 30 minutes before thinking “Christ, this is terrible. Jan….JAN! Get the paper and marker pen out, yeah?”
So the weekend was a bit of a snoozefest – and the last thing I want to ramble on about is Mark Clattenburg and Chelsea – so I’ll have to look elsewhere in order to fill the word count up. You just might have seen that it is the 20th anniversary of United signing King Eric, and as I’ve got nothing better to talk about I thought I’d pen a few quick words on the man himself (not literally, you understand).
Manchester United have been blessed with some great players down the years. I’m not going to list them all, but a few pre-1993 do stand out. George Best – with his boyish good looks and his ability to waltz past people as if they weren’t there. Bobby Charlton – with the ability to strike a ball ferociously with either foot. Denis Law – able to hang in the air and a goal scorer supreme. Bryan Robson – Captain Marvel, the hardest man on the pitch. All great players, obviously, but for all the great players, the Old Trafford faithful had never seen anyone like Eric Cantona. I didn’t have many heroes as a kid, but he was one, as I sat in the front of the television captivated by the man with the upturned collar and the Gallic arrogance that oozed off of him. Cantona was class on the pitch, sheer class, and it always makes me laugh that even when he was getting sent off or kicking people, he still looked majestic doing so.
I’ll never forget the day I came out of school only to be greeted by my mother at the school gates, looking sombre. “Something bad has happened”, she told me. Awful things whizzed through my mind, but there hadn’t been any deaths in the family, or car crashes, or fires. Instead, the King had gone. Gone at the age of 30, to “do other things”. I cried.
My first United game was a few months later, so I was never there to see him play. I don’t usually hold regrets, but there are certain exceptions. Long live the King.