If money is the disease afflicting football then this was the week when the symptoms seemed to turn terminal. With the World Cup now promised to oil rich nations until my children finish school I now return to club football to get my kicks. FIFA are certainly just a vessel for Sepp Blatter’s powerplays and I wondered on the way to Old Trafford if UEFA were any different.
This game was worth a few quid to the Champion’s League, various television companies and the clubs. The fans were less than enthralled. The stadium wasn’t full. It felt at kick off as though the entire sport were coughing and hacking its way to an inglorious end. Then a game of football broke out.
A bit of a dank first half was followed by a robust reminder of what a robust beast this sport is. Not for the first time this year, United needed to go behind before they remembered how to play. Carrick can accept the blame for their goal on account of his dithering in the middle of the pitch.
Rooney’s industry throughout counterbalanced that nicely and some real dynamism entered our play when he was involved. Were it not for the crossbar he would have had the goal his efforts deserved. In much the same way that financial pheromones seduced the World Cup, Rooney’s head was turned recently by riches elsewhere. He has stayed though, and that makes all the difference.
However, it was Anderson who impressed me the most in this match. With him and Nani coming on as they are, I am allowing myself to be optimistic about what is to come. Not least because we won’t be facing the Barcelona crushing machine in the next round.
Monday sees Arsenal and myself head to Old Trafford for the big match, presumably hoping for different outcomes. You would hope the crowd can put in more effort than they did on this cold Tuesday night. As far as this season goes, there is life in the old dog yet.
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