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Waiting for a Bus

By | 27th April 2009

spurs-unitedIt’s always this way, isn’t it? You wait forever for one bus and then four or five come along at once. After a fairly drab season by Premier League standards, it’s all gone frigging loopy as the fight for European and domestic dominance reaches its final stretch. A month ago we (well mainly I, but I’m sure you, too) were bemoaning the lack of really exciting games from the 08-09 Premier League season. The only real stand out effort was the 3-2 between Aston Villa and Everton back in December.

All of a sudden the top four have sprung into action with a veritable feast of football over the last month. 3-2s, 4-4s & 5-2s. Comebacks, drama, intrigue. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and United have all been involved in dramatic and exciting games and it may not be over yet. Best league in the world?… Pah! Did you ever doubt it?

Hollywood has nothing on football, which is generally why all attempts to make ‘soccer’ films have failed so miserably. It’s not that they’re unrealistic. It’s that they’re too realistic. Oh – so the poor young teenage nobody with a checkered past and a dying crippled black lesbian midget mother comes on and scores the winning goal in the last minute does he? Pah! Seen it a million times. The best thing Hollywood could do is take their scripts from real classic football matches. But then there’s a fair chance people wouldn’t believe them!

For their part, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs did their best to remake an old classic this weekend. If Spurs had got their act together and scored a third in the first half it would have been a pretty faithful rendition of the classic 5-3 encounter between these two at White Hart Lane in 2001.

But as with all remakes, the director had to mess around and add his own little stamp on it. I’d be tempted to say that Sir Alex Ferguson was the director in this particular analogy, and the introduction of Carlos Tevez, shuffling onto the pitch at half time like a leprechaun who’d fallen into a deep fat fryer, was certainly an important scene. However, the truth is that the real director, the man pulling all the strings in this match, and indeed the title race itself was a Scouser. And unfortunately for Liverpool, not of the red variety.

Spurs’ part in this match will probably be relegated to the wicker waste basket of history, but in the first half they had the better of United. I don’t know what it is about the effeminate duck footed road-runner that is Aaron Lennon, but whatever it is seems to strike terror into the heart of Patrice Evra. Maybe it’s the go faster stripes on his eyebrow? Maybe its the fact that he looks like he’s carrying a handbag or pretending to be a glider whenever he runs? Evra was murdered by him in the first half, and even at times in the second.

And this is a common theme when these teams play. With this happening out wide, United’s Terrible Twosome of Rio and Vidic looked around whenever the ball flew over their heads, and Rafael played so high up the pitch he had to stop and sort out his nosebleed whenever he was forced to get back (or simply foul the person he was tracking). There was a genuine feeling Spurs would score every time they attacked. Their first goal was a bit fortunate with Darren Bent (played on this occasion by man attending a fancy dress party as Mr. T) taking advantage of a mix up, but their second was woeful from United’s perspective in its complete lack of marking or closing down. Lennon and Corluka were running riot on the right and putting in some sumptuous balls that a defense who looked as solid as they come for the first third of the season couldn’t seem to cope with.

That said, they weren’t without their fortunate moments. With all the talk likely to be about the controversial penalty decision (no, it wasn’t one in my book) it’s worth noting that Howard Webb let Spurs off big time midway through the first half. Wilson Palacios lunged wildly at Ronaldo, with both feet off the ground in the sort of action a break dancer uses, and would’ve sent him flying if he hadn’t done a Georgie Best and skipped the challenge. He may not have made contact but the intent was there – it was a clear red.

Then the penalty happened. It wasn’t a penalty, no, but I don’t agree that Spurs would have won had it not been given as (un) ‘Appy ‘Arry does. The real turning point in this game came with the introduction of Carlos Tevez and the freedom it gave Wayne Rooney. Within two minutes of being on the pitch he had chased down five different Spurs players like a demented puppy forever chasing that elusive stick, and with him doing that Rooney was free to concentrate on the angelic side of his game rather than the demonic.

There are times when all the rhetoric and nostalgia that surrounds the (original and only real) Holy Trinity would lead you to believe that every Manchester United scoresheet in the 60s and 70s had only three names on it. This is what happens when history is written and time passes, and it’s what will happen when people now in their 20s and 30s are telling their grand kids about the United team of the late noughties (maybe they’ll be called the naughty reds…or maybe not).

Every era has it’s heroes from the Preston Team of Tom Finney and the Blackpool Team of Stanley Mathews through the Dutch & Argentinian teams of Cruyff and Maradona to the United team of Cantona. It’s completely unfair and inaccurate to discard the contributions of all the other vitally important players of these eras, but legends are legends and are remembered with a certain rose tinted degree of awe that sets them apart. They are the ones that stood up in big matches and the ones that seemed to have that extra bit of class when their team needed it most.

Right now, this particular United era is being shaped by two young men whose future sprawls further out in front of them than their pasts do behind them. One of them isn’t even particularly liked by a section of his own supporters and the other hasn’t yet reached the heights he was always prophesized to. The only decent comparison I can think of is the Madrid team of Di Stefano and Puskas, because when the history books are written, despite the invaluable contributions of Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs, Carrick, Tevez, Evra et al., this Manchester United team of 06-09 will be remembered as the Rooney and Ronaldo team. The penalty helped, Tevez helped, even Berbatov helped, but this game was rescued and won by the same two players who seem to rescue or win every game United really need them to. World class players do as World class players do.

I’d like to end today’s lecture on an unusual note. There’s something I’ve noticed over the course of the season and it’s something that I think requires deeper investigation. Hull City have had, to put it mildly, an interesting first season in top flight football. However, their manager, Phil Brown, has managed to stay cool, and more importantly, suspiciously brown, throughout.

At the beginning of the season I assumed, as we all probably did, that he was simply enjoying the glow of a summer holiday abroad. But as the season has gone on, Hull have risen, fallen, risen again sightly, fallen again, stayed still for a bit, and Phil Brown has remained the same odd Ronseal Quick Dry and wood stain colour. The whole issue is pointless, however, because no matter how cool he looks with a bottle tan it’s all undone by the fact that he insists on wearing a head mic, thus permanently looking like an embarrassing dad trying desperately to be cool at his teenage daughters birthday party. Oh Phil, when will you learn.

Has Oscar gone mad or can you not get enough of his witty analogies? Tell us in the comments section below!

Reader Comments

The below views are those of our readers and do not reflect the opinions of Premiership Talk or its employees.
  1. Maggie says:

    So nice to hear an honest and amusing account for a change this guy knows his stuff and what a lot of us are thinking! More please

  2. Geordie Jim says:

    Oscar is my hero.

    i like him

  3. Brian says:

    Couldn't agree more, Steph. Another brilliant article by Oscar. Keep them coming!

  4. Steph says:

    Brilliant piece. This guy's really original. Love his sense of humour. Interesting anologies, let's hear more!

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