A Week In Football: Plus ça change

A Week In Football: Plus ça change

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Roughly translated, that’s “The more things change, the more they stay the same” and it’s a phrase that’s buzzing round my brain today. When I last spoke to you all, last week, we were five points clear of our noisy neighbours. Now, after all the mayhem of the past week, we’re….five points clear of our noisy neighbours.

Nothing has changed, really, but oh the drama! Oh the stories! Before we move on to the next dramatic instalment of this seemingly never-ending saga however, let’s take a deep breath and go over what we’ve seen in recent days.

T’was Easter Sunday then and on BBC Radio 5Live, Ian Payne was getting very excited. “Is this going to be the definitive day in the title race?!” he gasped breathlessly as he and his guests chatted about the mouth-watering double bill of football that awaited us. “What a load of hyperbolic nonsense” was my silent response to Payney’s question, but I couldn’t deny that something was in the air – something special – and it wasn’t that curry I had the night before repeating on me either. Home to QPR, and City away at Arsenal? It was all set up for one of the big “title race” days, and you certainly felt glad you were in United’s corner rather than the other lot’s when analysing the two fixtures. Before every United game I’m nervous, but those nerves didn’t seem to be as bad as usual when I was stuffing my face with chocolate and waiting patiently for the 1:30pm kick-off against QPR. On Sunday, everything was going to work out just fine, because I knew full well that it would.

As much as I’d like to believe that fate inspired us to prevail over our friends based down in White City however, I have to acknowledge that on the day we got very, very lucky with a decision given to us by the man in black. Who knows how good a referee Johnny Cash would have been, but you’d like to think that he would have called the Derry-Young incident a bit more accurately than Mr Lee Mason did at the time. I’m an old-fashioned football fan, to be honest, and I can’t be doing with people flinging themselves to the floor at every opportunity. I can’t even begin to imagine doing it myself, but I have to accept that it happens, that teams benefit from it, and it’s just going to keep on happening, whether I like it or not. I’m also not a fan of the whole “red card and penalty for denying a goal scoring opportunity thing” – I don’t know the exact phrasing of the law. Is the award of a penalty not making up for the lost goal scoring opportunity?

Sorry, this was originally meant to be a humorous column, so I’m going to shut up about all that. The long and the short of it all is that it proved to be a regulation win over the R’s – thanks to Perry Mason – so on we go to The Emirates. Wasn’t it fantastic? Arsenal dominance, a red card, a lacklustre and lethargic city display, a late, demoralising winner….I’m not sure we could have scripted any of it any better ourselves. Congratulations to Arsenal on the win, and congratulations to Alex Song who somehow managed to keep his leg attached and in one piece after that “tackle” from…well, you know who. So the gap moved to eight points, and not even the glee that Piers Morgan took from the victory was going to dampen that result. The “definitive day”? Not for me, no, but an awful lot of United fans soon came pouring out of the woodwork, taking great delight in goading city fans and revelling in the day’s results. Just on that subject – I wasn’t a fan of “Champ19ns” anyway, but at least it kinda made sense. What the Dickens then is this “Ch2mpi0ns” I keep on seeing on Twitter? What an absolute barrel of nonsense that is. Good Lord, stop that shit right now please.

As it is we are reigning champions and “Champ19ns” does still apply, regrettably, but that’s in the past and it’s the present we need to worry about. A wonderful Sunday was followed by a woeful Wednesday and here we are, back at the beginning, five points clear. I’m not going to talk about the Wigan game, for two reasons – firstly, running out of word count, and secondly, it was SHIT, so there we go, but it is what it is, and I knew we weren’t going to win every game. Oh, there’s a few twists left in this one yet, don’t worry about that. So, five games to go. How’s your nerves?


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