Europe is saved but George needs a bailout

A spectacular week of European football reminded us of many things.

That there is no more engaging scenario in the game than the conclusion of a two-legged tie with the home side on the chase. That the gentle freewheel through the ‘Sunny SPL’ that Barca and Real supposedly enjoy is grossly overstated, if Bilbao are any barometer. That Manchester United’s miraculous climb to the top of the Premier League is another testament to the might of Alex Ferguson’s will rather than any indication of his players’ brilliance. Basel’s defence, before Bilbao’s attack, nailed that one.

We learned too that JT is back in charge at the Bridge and we also had it confirmed, as if there was any need, that Richard Keys will never truly get it. Imagine, with more than five minutes left of as compelling a cup tie as Roy Race and Agatha Christie combined could dream up, tweeting this: “Job done Chels. Well played. Bed now — planning for tomorrow.” But, above all else, we got final, irrefutable evidence that away goals are George Hamilton’s kryptonite.

A scholar he may be; a linguist, a pianist, a sophisticate; a spinner of delicate metaphors and, in my book, the best commentator we’re exposed to in these parts, but if two sides share any kind of mathematical proximity, in a tie where the away goal rule is employed, George will not, cannot, tell you who is winning.

In his defence, it should be said that Ray Houghton is no help to him whatsoever, a hindrance maybe, like Chippy persuading him Goran Ivanisevic smashed the winner.

But it is still a curious failing in a smart man.

Perhaps — during these rabbit in the headlight moments — George needs that famous suit of armour only two precious away goals can bring.

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