It was a miracle the three remaining English teams avoided each other in the CL draw, sparking media hype that the “dream final” is still possible.
And whose dream would this be? Hannibal Lecter’s? Make no mistake: a United-Liverpool final in Athens would be a security nightmare, with loons from both sides desperate to mix it on foreign soil.
Put it this way. If I see a big wooden horse outside our half of the stadium I’m going nowhere near it.
I’m not sure Chelsea-United would be much better.
Add that to the thought of watching them clinch another treble at our expense, and the consequences could be severe. Don’t they have enough ruins in Greece? To be fair I came across four Milan fans in total during my three days in the centre of Istanbul so it may not be the Hieronymus Bosch picture I’m painting here.
I’d have put money on there being an all-England quarterfinal. Conspiracy theorists claim the Italian influence that always plagues UEFA wants such a final to make their own misdemeanours seem like teddy bears’ picnics in comparison.
United fans will know to roam Rome in packs if they want to avoid a knife in the leg, their fans’ perennial modus operandi.
But like every other Red I’m getting way, way ahead of myself here. No one denies there was a sigh of relief when we drew PSV, but that’s often a bad sign just as it was last season when Koeman also lay in wait. The determination to show sneering outsiders that Barcelona weren’t “all that” eventually saw us through, albeit by the slimmest margin possible.
When the draw was originally made Jamie Redknapp was on TV discussing the possibility of us winning the tie, only for Paul Merson to start cackling uncontrollably alongside him.
An unkind soul might mention his renowned lousiness as a tipster, since gambling addicts never suffer if they’re good at it, but I’m in much too good a mood to gloat. If it weren’t for Bernard’s feelings I’d be doing some cackling of my own.
If we’d lost 2-1 in Spain and won 1-0 at home that would make more sense wouldn’t it? Trust Liverpool to get it arse over tit.
For the umpteenth time this season poor finishing put us in a precarious situation. It’s baffling to listen to some of our fans when they claim the manager has been financially shackled in this area.
Gudjohnsen’s cool finish put the lie to our troubles up front being all about spending power. The intent of the team’s at the core of it all.
United will usually keep attacking whatever the situation. Already got the game in the bag? Nothing going right for the first 89 minutes? It doesn’t matter to them, they keep going.
This will be integral to Rafa’s phase two at Anfield. You don’t beat the champions of Europe if you haven’t got so much going for you, but the longer we went without a goal the less likely we were to score.
One snide journalist who detests Benitez waffled about Barca falling prey to the Galactico mentality, but there was no evidence of that in a tense second half. That was a crude, deranged attempt to deny the coach even a smidgen of credit.
Now maybe Messi had an off night in the Nou Camp. Maybe he had another one at Anfield. Maybe he was on fire in El Classico at the weekend.
But all three in a row is a bit coincidental surely? Isn’t it more credible that Rafa got his battle plan right? Regulars will know I rarely genuflect before the Altar of Benitez but some things are staring you in the face.
Carragher was immense in both games and the rest worked so hard, but it was largely a tactical triumph.
Barcelona hadn’t been to Anfield for 25 years, now they’ve played here three times in six years. The Champions League does a great job in turning the momentous into the commonplace. If we go further in the competition we may face one or even two of our compatriots. We nearly played United in 2002, Chelsea beat Arsenal in 2004, we beat Chelsea in 2005 and now look where we’re headed.
Not that anyone else seems to be jaded. I’m clearly in a minority of one. The masses roaming L4 ticketless and devastated were as bad as I’ve ever known.
The atmosphere was so good it’s in danger of being taken for granted. You wonder what Hicks and Gillett will make of the echoing silence at a league match.
As fixtures pile up for our opponents you cross your fingers and hope it will work to our advantage.
Then hope PSV don’t make this speculation academic.