Alex and Carlos
Anyone else surprised by the comments of Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlos Queiroz after Manchester United’s defeat at Chelsea on Saturday? No, thought not. It was all the officials fault you see. No mention of course of the ultra cautious United line up or the fact that the club’s leading scorer started on the bench. Oh no. Quieroz claimed that for United to get a penalty, one of their players would have to be shot. Strange that. I don’t remember any Barca players brandishing a Smith & Wesson or sub-machine gun at the Nou Camp last week. And in that game, United got a penalty in the second minute. As it happens, Ronaldo was only mugged by Ballack at the Bridge, but tussles like that, particularly at corner kicks, are 10 a penny in any game. As for Chelsea’s winning spot kick, Sir Alex would have us believe that Michael Carrick “couldn’t get out of the road.” If that’s the case, he must have the reactions of a geriatric tortoise on Valium as he was a good 10 yards away from the ball when it was crossed. The truth of their demise lies closer to home. Defensive team selection, poor first half display.
In the two Heineken Cup semi finals at the weekend, both the underdogs, London Irish and Saracens punched well above their weight before being undone by Toulouse and Munster respectively. In the Premier League, even more can be said of Birmingham, Fulham, Reading and Bolton. All of them had tricky games but none of them folded. Indeed, none of them got beaten. The relegation dog fight has been extended for another week at least. Painful for their supporters but great, if not slightly morbid entertainment for the rest of us.
A man has been arrested after the owner of Mansfield Town was attacked following his side’s defeat in a crucial League Two relegation match against Rotherham. Police confirmed they were called to the club’s boardroom just before 5pm on Saturday after an alleged attack on Keith Haslam. He suffered minor head injuries and was released from a local hospital following treatment. A 45-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of assault. He’s probably basing his defence on the fact that he’s the only bloke from Mansfield who got any shots on target the entire afternoon.
You know when an event has serious problems when the UK’s top football writers take a collective pop at it. And that’s the case surrounding the Champions League final. The brilliant Martin Samuels of The Times is the latest journo to take umbrage with the chosen venue of European football’s showpiece club game. Why? Well, here are a few reasons for a start.
1) The names of all fans attending the game must be made known to Uefa within 48 hours of the completion of the semi finals. A logistical nightmare.
2) All travelling fans must have a visa. These will have to be processed, along with travel and accommodation details, in just 9 working days. And if Manchester United prevail to make it an all British final, that’s 43,000 visa applications going through one embassy. Get the overtime payments ready comrade.
3) Standard chain hotels are charging up to £5000 for a 3 night stay.
4) The city has only 35,000 hotel rooms and a cost-of-living survey has rated it the most expensive in the world two years running.
5) As all direct flights are full, the best way now of getting to the game involves a 15 hour train journey and 2 days of travelling each way.
Moscow, of course, follows Athens and Istanbul as recent CL final venues, the capital city of countries that have provided how many finalists in the last 52 years? One.