Champions League scandal
It's been a breathless two nights of football and we have ended up with Manchester United and Barcelona in the final of the Champions League. United won at a canter against Arsenal while Barca squeezed through with an injury time goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, their first shot on target. But, should it have come to that?
Uefa like to boast that the Champions League is the best of the best, la crÄ‚¨me de la crÄ‚¨me. Whilst this might be true with regards to the teams playing in the competition, the same cannot be said of Wednesday night's official.
Tom Henning Ovrebo is from Norway and more used to officiating games involving such football power houses as Viking Stavanger, Rosenborg, Molde and Tromso. Now you tell me, how does that make him the right man to oversee a Champions League semi final?
Of course, it’s not his fault he was appointed. Who wouldn’t, in that profession, want to take on such a massive encounter? But the simple facts are these. Chelsea had four claims for penalties, three of them nailed on certainties. All of them were waved away.
How many pens did you miss ref? By the way, this is a picture of a hand.
Dani Alves was fortunate not to concede a spot kick in a wrestling match with Florent Malouda that started outside but continued into the area. Eric Abidal’s tug on Didier Drogba’s shirt wasn't seen and handballs by Gerard Pique and Samuel Eto’o also went unpunished after the break (Eto’o’s probably unintentional though his arm was way above his head).
All of which will mean the conspiracy theorists will be out in force. Uefa didn't want another all-English final, they will say, so appointed a referee to ensure they got the result they wanted.
Whilst this is probably wide of the mark, Uefa don't help themselves do they? If this was the most important match played in Europe last night, why wasn't the most important referee assigned to it? A top Italian or German official, used to performing at the highest level, at that pace and with the kind of players on show at Stamford Bridge.
Of course, we'll never know as Uefa never admit that they make mistakes.
Didier Drogba chats to the ref after the game.
Meanwhile, Barcelona will also point out that Abidal will miss the final after he was red carded for a non-existent foul on Nicolas Anelka. As the TV pictures clearly showed, Anelka tripped himself up. No question. So Abidal, like Manchester United's Darren Fletcher, will sit out the big game in Rome through no fault of his own.
How, in this modern age, can this be allowed to happen? Ask Uefa, but don't expect a straight answer.
When boots go bad
If you believe some of the guff that is written on the web, then you'll be of the opinion that the only reason Ji-Sung Park and Cristiano Ronaldo scored on Tuesday night was because they were wearing Nike football boots.
I'm sure that as Ronaldo lined up his first half free kick he thought to himself: Ĺ›I may be 41 yards from goal but I'm going to have a dig as I reckon the Flywire technology in my Superfly's gives me a real chance.ĹĄ Or then again, it could be that he has unshakeable belief in his own ability.
This type of positive spin is all well and good in itself provided you understand that it's being written for one reason and one reason only – to sell you the football boots in question.
Apparently, Park’s lung busting display was down to the comfort of his Tiempo’s. Well, my Mum’s slippers are comfy but I doubt she’d be able to put in that type of display. No, you need some talent and an awful lot of fitness for that. Comfortable boots can assist a player, but they can’t turn him in to something he’s not.
Indeed, later on today, you’ll probably see a few pieces which will suggest that Barcelona have reached the CL final purely because Andres Iniesta happens to wear the Total 90 Laser II.
The boots wot won it. Iniesta’s T90’s.
But of course, they never report the down side do they? It's as if this part of the game just doesn't exist. So, in order to provide a balanced approach, here's the other side of the coin.
Kieran Gibbs fell over on Tuesday and presented Manchester United with their opening goal.
Gibbs wears the Nike Tiempo Air Legend II.
Didier Drogba had Chelsea's best chance of the night against Barcelona but failed to roll the ball in to a half empty net or chip it over a prone goalkeeper.
Didier Drogba wears the Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly.
This is not a dig at Nike. They didn’t write the articles concerned. Merely a request that if people ‘big up’ a boot in one instance, they must surely highlight the bloopers in another.
You know it and I know it. Shame some football boot writer's don't.