Being bemused that United are out of the Champions League shows you are not watching football that is being played by the reigning Barclays Premier League champions, or the Barclays Premier League for that matter. The cyber space is literally littered with surprise comments and stories concerning the exit of faded Manchester United and moneyed Manchester City from the UEFA Champions League. United fans are basically shuttered while their foes are in jubilation.
Taking the current season by storm, City gave people the impression to be the real deal, which they might be soon, but for now, we have seen the separation of boys from men. Football is not played by hearts and emotions. Man U have not played football in ages and I have said it a million and one times, attracting the wrath of their faithfuls. Those receptive to facts and truth will attest to these claims.
There is two types of playing badly and winning. Sir Alex Ferguson has given us both in his colourful stay at Old Trafford. Only that now United have made it a tradition week in and week out to dish out the stale stuff and the bullied teams have just showed up and donated points. This charity only lasted in the Premiership. There are no favours in Europe.
To draw the contrast, on a regular basis, Manchester United have been well below par and that is being polite, because frankly, they have been boring. There is not much to say if the team is winning. However, there is Tottenham Hotspur, who will be out of sorts and pull off a stunt or two to win the match. The difference is the genuine failure to impress because their opposition come better prepared. Other teams make it a priority to stop Spurs from playing. United play badly no matter what.
Arsenal, who qualified well in advance, had the same problem of playing badly because al else went out to make their match unplayable. In those days, they also lost matches playing well sometimes. As for now, as a very mediocre team, writing about the Gunners is a strength supping exercise. You need a very good heart to finish their story.
Arsene Wenger has done well to win it with a match to spare and he had actually predicted the hard times at Manchester in qualifying. The superstitious will feel jinxed but then, who wanted to see the boring UEFA Champions League matches in the knock out stages! Well, as for Chelsea, it was a job well done, but frankly, the jubilation is only limited to qualifying. There is no rightful fan who will be banking on their passage after their inconsistency that is rumoured to emanate from dressing room issues.
Many believe that coach AVB is being undermined by seniors at Stanford Bridge because of his youthfulness. I do not buy that. Either it is his football or the general sabotage from his backroom staff. His troubles are a shade worse than Roberto Mancini of Manchester City. While the Citizens are sitting pretty on the EPL log, I am not convinced all is at peace. Carlos Tevez is finally going to Italy and he will surely fire parting shots soon.
Leading the EPL standings is a good feat and we will be asking questions when push comes to shove. The staying power will be vital and given the false impression that both Manchesters will perform better in the league as they devote their time and undivided attention to the domestic game, that may actually be their undoing. Chelsea have the experience to take the advantage of the dropped heads at both camps. It was going to be Arsenal and Liverpool’s time to rise and shine, but they are far off the pace.
As much as I like the Spurs play, for them to have a say will need great character and an extra ordinary 4 months to win the Championship. If their game is anything to go by, this could be their time. I will not count them in but it is not impossible, but this is not about the England, but Europe.
This whole picture tells a story. The runaway leaders of the league and the reigning champions are out of Europe; the most feared teams with huge budgets. Is the league now so small? Maybe not, given that the nobodies of the league as in Chelsea and Arsenal are in with a shout.
Frankly, both will surprise me by passing through the next round. It will take a miracle. I think either England is finished or the rest of Europe is coming up. Generally, the English game has been a faded history affair since the 1966 FIFA World Cup. The national team has been near, yet so far in both the World Cup and the European Championship.
I would hate to gon political, but unavoidably, there may be a man grinning ear to ear at this strange state of affair. Recently, there has been racial stories rocking the English game and then FIFA President , Sepp Blatter of Switzerland. United lost to a Swiss side, Basel, in Switzerland, the land of Blatter.
The English FA has been accused to be soft and moving slowly in dealing with the John Terry and Luis Suarez racial issues while calling for the FIFA boss, Blatter, to resign. It sounded hypocritical but could his toasting at the trivial victory of the loss of the English team be justified? I guess he can say he is having the last laugh. Many believe he hates England and he is football enemy number one.
Thinking for a moment that United and City will have the advantage in the domestic game, or that they had diminished interest in the competition is notorious. They wanted it so bad and now that they are out, they are doomed, United more than City. Even the Europa League they will participate in will take a toll on them. They may want to use the league as a punch back for their fringe players.
The concept may work or kill the rhythm of the team. The merits of the state of affairs will be seem in not so distant future. At the end of the day, fans and foes of United seem to be feeling hurt and celebrating respectively. SAF was quoted as saying, “Of course we are disappointed. There is no other way you can feel. We had so much possession and opportunities in the last third but the finishing part of our game, you have to say, has let us down. We were careless. We let ourselves down badly.”
With all due respect, this is a very dishonest statement. The respected mentor should have known ages ago, before last season, that his non-deserved wins will catch up with him. If I saw it, come on, SAF should have known better, and not just yesterday or last year. The writing has been on the whole in flashing LED coloured flashing lights.
What is boring about this is the general observation of United’s mediocrity only now by so many. I don’t know what football the world is watching.