Day: December 12, 2007

The Steamroller Is In Town

They might not be the most famous club in the world – that dubious honour probably lies with Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United – but they are one of the most successful club sides in the history of the game. They are a football juggernaut, with a hint of controversy about them and a record both at home and in Europe and at home that is second to none. Now, for the first time, they have touched down in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup. Can Milan become the world champions? I’ll come on to that in a minute, but first of all, a quick history lesson. The one curio about Milan that every schoolboy knows is the one about their name. Founded by an Englishman, they chose to keep the English spelling of their name, rather than changing it to the Italian spelling of “Milano”. In spite of this, the club’ name is pronounced differently in Italian as “Mee-lan”, rather than simply knocking the ‘o’ off the end of “Milano”, which would leave it pronounced the same as it is in English. Traditionally they are the working class Milan team, with Internazionale (who, as every schoolboy knows, should always just be known as “Inter” – there’s no such club as “Inter Milan” in Italian) drawing their support from the city’s more affluent areas, though this distinction...

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Six Great Football Competitions

So, I was sitting at home last night watching the Champions League match between OM and Liverpool, and the thought finally came to me. Who cares about this? Seriously. Who gives a damn about it? The Champions League is now so debased, so much of a mis-match that Liverpool, the fourth placed team in England (by fairly common assent) , can stroll through the group phases, winning matches as if they are pre-season friendlies. Never mind the fact that they put in two of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in this competition (proving at a stroke why the big clubs like this mini-group format so much – it removes so much of the element of chance), OM were so wretched last night that one got the feeling that even ITV, having spent a good half an hour hyping the match up as a “do or die night for heroes”, were slightly embabrrassed at how easy it was for them yet again. One wonders how long, in a global community with multi-channel digital access, how long UEFA, the big clubs and the televisions companies will be able to continue to pass off this charade as “premium entertainment”. It’s not football as most of us understand it. It’s not a competition. This year’s group stage has been a drawn out series of grindingly tedious Harlem Globetrotters exhibition matches. One could...

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