The Perfect (Mis) Match and other footballing miscellanea

A busy footballing week for those at the top table  of European football with the Champions League revving up for another season.  Also a busy week for Liverpool fans with the details of the Hillsborough Disaster finally released, a Europa  League  game in Switzerland on Thursday and a first confrontation with United at the Dipperdrome on Sunday.

Every dog and his missus seem to have had their say about Hillsborough, but I will disqualify myself on the grounds that I simply do not  possess enough information to make any credible contribution.  All I would say is that I hope that the families of the 96 poor folk that lost their lives can now get some closure.  It would be very sad to see a rash of financial compensation claims trailing through the courts and further prolonging their agony.  Time to move on if they can….

Talking of which, there have been a lot of hits on this site over the last week for a piece I wrote on last season’s Suarez Debacle entitled  ‘It’s never their fault, they’re always the victims, it’s never their fault…..’ (14/2/12), probably relating to negative publicity for some United fans who were singing that song during Saturday’s home game vs Wigan.   

Whilst I have no doubt that this song is not specifically connected to what happened at Hillsborough and is more of a general appraisal of Merseyside Attitudes, I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that the timing of its re-emergence is coincidental.     Anyway, there are strong rumours emerging from The Vatican this afternoon that Suarez & Evra have agreed to kiss and make up before Sunday’s game.  Set against what happened at Hillsborough, this would be a positive and appropriate gesture by all concerned and, frankly, long overdue.  Let’s hope it happens so we can focus on the football.

Having said that, after last weekend’s double snub of John Terry and Ashley Cole by Anton Ferdinand, I think the FA should do themselves a big favour and dispense with this empty pre-match handshake ritual immediately.

On the field of play, I would have to say that the Champions League got off to an absolutely cracking start, thanks to a tremendous contest between the old money of Real Madrid and les nouveaux riches from Eastlands at the Bernabeu Stadium last night – unless you’re a City fan, this was pretty much the Perfect Match. 

Not so sad this time; Ronny celebrates the winning goal…

City were quite clearly second best for most of the game, yet somehow led 2-1 going in to the final 5 minutes thanks to a Yaya Toure-inspired breakaway and a freakish Kolarov free-kick.  As daylight robberies go, it would have been right up there, but we were treated to 2 superb pieces of finishing; the first from Benzema, who curled a low shot just inside the post after a wonderful turn on the edge of the City area and the second from that boy Ronaldo,  who dipped a curling shot past a flapping Joe Hart with just seconds left.  A marvellous game and justice done at the end of the day, with an ex-United hero scoring the decisive goal.  Also, I have to say that there was something rather gratifying about Joe Hart’s ‘hissy fit’ post-match interview and all the City fans consoling themselves today with how far they have come to be so disappointed at losing in the Bernabeu.  Frankly, if I’d spent as much money as City have in recent years, I’d be disappointed, too.

Lastly, a word to lament the passing of sports journalist Brian Woolnough, who hosted Sky’s impressive ‘Sunday Supplement’ programme right up until May and had of course been a top tabloid scribe for many years.  I never took much notice of his writing, but always enjoyed ‘Sunday Supplement’ whenever I could get to see it.

Brian Woolnough hosting ‘ Sunday Supplement’ – R.I.P.

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