I don’t know about you, but for me there’s something wonderful about the Champions League music. It stirs up memories of the past, it stirs up the passion inside of me and it stirs something in my pants, truth be told, but let’s keep that one quiet. The Champions League music reminds me of better times, back when football was great. Lars Ricken, Santiago Canizares, Stefan Effenberg, Edgar Davids and many more – they were great players, but the rarity with which they appeared on your TV screens meant that to marvel at them on a Wednesday night was a special treat, a reward for all those Match of the Days you sat through watching the likes of Kevin Pressman and Robbie Earle.
Alas, nowadays those times are memories liberally daubed with nostalgia. United sign a 16 year old kid from Sierra Leone for £100 and a trip around Carrington for his parents and within minutes we’re being directed to videos of him on Youtube, his stats on Football Manager, the opinions of “African football experts” on blogs and so on.
I digress. My point was going to be this – the Europa League music doesn’t make me feel the same way. In fact, I’ve just had to check Youtube to make sure that the Europa League actually HAS an anthem. There it is, 30 seconds or so of dreary, non-memorable tosh, but the fact of the matter is that we’re just going to have to embrace it. In 2012, “Thursday nights, Channel 5” became a grim reality, and the week in football began with our second leg against Ajax Amsterdam at OT.
With two away goals in our back pocket I felt very comfortable about progressing through to the next round, a feeling the players clearly shared as (after an early goal from the Pea) they decided to “toss it off” as the great man would say. A 2-1 defeat yet a 3-2 victory on aggregate, it did little to suppress the anxiety I’m feeling about the next few months. As soon as the little rat Tevez said “sorry lol” and got on a plane to come back to Blighty, an uneasy feeling has popped into my head – he’s going to cost us.
I’m serious. Tevez is going to do us – either in the league game or in the Europa League final – a feeling which just won’t go away and made me look upon our victory over Ajax with a slight hint of regret. I never want United to lose, of course, but don’t give him the opportunity…I’m fatalising again. I’m the most negative United fan you’ll ever meet, sorry, and even a harmless interview granted to DJ Spoony (I’m not even joking) by the boss got my bowels going. What the f*ck do we do when he’s gone, eh? I don’t want Mourinho, he’s a snide little sh*t. How old is Guus Hiddink now? Could David Moyes really step up to our level? Questions for another day, and whilst Sir Alex is mentally & physically fit, there’s no-one else I would even consider being our manager, but the worries are there at the back of the mind. He’s still on top form, though, no question about that. At the end of the interview Spoony told the boss what an honour and a privilege it was to meet him, even though he was a Liverpool fan. Quick as a flash Ferguson replied “I feel sorry for you” and I loved him just that little bit more.
This weekend saw us squeeze past Norwich 2-1 thanks to a late winner from Sir Ryan of Giggs – who will sh*g who he wants, thank you very much – but it was overshadowed by a dramatic North London Derby and the Rumbelows Cup Final down at Wembley aka “Anfield South”, Liverpool’s nickname for a place they haven’t been to for over a decade. If you’re on Twitter you’re now bored of the Charlie Adam penalty jokes, so nothing from me regarding that one, but the hysteria that greeted their scrappy win on penalties over a Championship side was really something to behold. Congratulations to Liverpool, but there’s a reason why that final is played in February a full month before we even enter squeaky bum time. As they danced around with an irrelevant trophy, and Spurs once again made a royal mess of things just as they were looking genuinely impressive, we were left looking forward with no pressure from behind.
We are Manchester United, our manager is Sir Alex Ferguson, and we’re gunning for #20.