You’re Not Trying Hard Enough, Europe.
Let joy be unconfined. It’s Manchester United against Chelsea in the European Cup final. Actually, I’m going to try to not be too down-hearted about it all. If you strip away all the hype from them (and suspend your loathing of the current owners), the fact of the matter is that there are few teams in the world that are better to watch at the moment. It would have preferable for them to have been playing Liverpool or Arsenal (both of those fixtures still have the veneer of the genuine edge of rivalry, as opposed to Sky-created, testosterone-soaked nonsense that seems to surround Manchester United vs Chelsea), but I’m starting to come around to the idea that it might not actually be that bad.
In order to sustain this feeling, it might be necessary for me to not open a newspaper, switch on the radio or television, or overhear what other people say while I’m waiting for the bus to work in the morning. The biggest problem for me in upholding all of this happiness is going to be the hubris surrounding the match. We can expect many more statements in the style of the BBC’s Jonathan Pearce, who ridiculously tried to claim that over 1bn people were watching the Premier League between the two sides last weekend. The Independent yesterday argued that this is the “most important match ever played between two English sides” (which is true in one respect but misses the altogether more fundamental point that only supporters of Manchester United and Chelsea really care about what happens), and this is the tip of the iceberg.
You see, this is what newspapers want and need. An FA Cup final between Cardiff City and Portsmouth confuses and angers them. Where’s Avram Grant, with his strange, toad-like face? Where’s Alex Ferguson, shouting and pointing while his nose turns purple? Who are these players? I’ve never heard of half of them! The end of the Premier League season and the European Cup final returns them to altogether safer terrain, where the cliches fall like rain from the skies above, and they can put inconveniences like research to the back burner and concentrate on the important issues, such as do Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack really hate each other and, hoo, that Cristiano Ronaldo, eh? Who’s going to stop him, hmm?
So, the best way around all of this is going to be to avoid the media at all costs, though there’s a good chance that I won’t be mentioning it too much on here. Oh, and if you are watching it on ITV, you might want to keep the sound switched off during the match. Play one of those CDs of whale noises instead. If you can get through all the hype, there might just be a decent football match going on.