United are the Champions, European Champions
21.05.2008 - 21.05.2008 20 °C
We are the pride of all Europe, the cock of the north
We hate the scousers and cockney of course (and Leeds)
We are United without any doubt
We are the Manchester boys na na na
Well it is now 4 days after the European Champions League trophy was won by United in dramatic circumstances in Moscow. I am absolutely delighted for Alex Ferguson, his reign at Old Trafford deserves more than one European Cup, his ability to mould players, bring on youngsters and his thirst for success and attacking footall is unrivalled in the modern game. Another famous Scottish manager, Liverpool´s legendary Bill Shankly once said 'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.' That may be taking things to the extreme but for supporters of Manchester United and Chelsea that quote must have rang true in the build up to, during and after the match.
Could either team handle losing to one of their fiercest rivals? I certainly could not begin to imagine Chelsea winning and then coming to Old Trafford next season and rubbing United´s noses in it. The thought provoked chills down my spine.
Thankfully, all worries were erased from my head after Edwin Van Der Sar saved former Arsenal and Liverpool player Nicholas Anelka´s penalty kick to take the trophy back to Old Trafford for a third time. For supporters of United around the globe there was sheer joy and exuberation, for Chelsea supporters it must have been a feeling worse than death. Refer back to Bill Shankly´s quote.
It was an excellent game, more open than most could have anticipated. We wathched the game at the fantastic Locos por el Futbol in Buenos Aires. A huge sports bar with massive screens and table service. Thankfully there were other United supporters in from Norway, Holland, Argentina and Manchester, including two season ticket holders in the Strefor End, Bernie and her daughter Catherine. There were a few Chelsea suporters in as well including two very mouthy Israeli´s at the table next to us.
Ferguson went for his strongest line-up, allaying any fears I had about him starting with one upfront. With Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo on the pitch United have the ability to beat anyone. Back up that forward line with a midfield consisting of the maestro Paul Scholes, an ever improving Michael Carrick, both offensively and defensively and the superfit and superfast Owen Hargreaves. Then you have the rock solid defence of Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra. A team worthy of Europe´s finest prize.
United started strongly and took the lead just before the half hour mark through a powerful Ronaldo header, after excellent work on the right wing from Scholes and Brown. United had chances to sew the game up before half time including a Tevez diving header after a breathtaking move involving Rooney and Ronaldo. Chelsea equalised before half time and it was all square at the interval.
Chelsea looked more confident in the second half, but both teams had their chances with Drogba hitting the post for Chelsea. Giggs came on for extra time and could have won it but for an excellent clearing header from John Terry. At that stage penalties seemed inevitable though and they were soon upon us, not before my most hated man in football, Didier Drogba was sent off. What a complete TWAT.
United scored their first two then the unthinkale happened, Ronaldo missed. The two Chelsea supporters next to us jumped up almost into my face and I had to bite my tongue and clench my fists to avoid a reaction. Chelsea scored to take the lead. Hargreaves and Nani scored under pressure for United, leaving the last penalty kick and the chance to win it to Chelsea captain John Terry. At this point I gave some money to Lynn to settle the bill and said that if he scored I would be making a sharp exit to get away from the Chelsea supporters. Instead it was my turn to turn to the two Chelsea fans next to me and scream ´get it right up you Chelsea´ and run to celebrate with the Norwegian reds. In the joyous scenes my glasses were knocked off and I was scrabbling about on the floor looking for them, only just getting them in time to see Anderson score the next penalty. Chelsea scored as well and then it was Ryan Giggs turn to step up.
Giggs was breaking Bobby Charlton´s appearance record for Manchester United and he tucked his penalty away. Next up was Nicholas Anelka. As if it wasn´t bad enough that this guy played for Chelsea, he has also played for Arsenal and Liverpool. Van der Sar saved and the place went nuts, with me shouting a few choice words at the Chelsea support in the bar.
We danced and sang with the Norwegian Reds and then ordered a bottle of champagne with Bernie and Catherine from Manchester. Bernie´s son was in Moscow and she got a couple of text messages as we sang United songs and had our picture taken by the local press. Bernie is 59 and she had been at Wembley in 1968 to see United win the European Cup for the first time and I had been in Barcelona for 1999, so it was quite fitting that we should meet in 2008. I am a great believer in fate when it comes to football, especially European Cup finals!
Bernie told us that her best friend was the former official photographer for the George Best fanclub. When I cheekily asked if he friend and George had ever, you know. She would only reply ´well George was a bit of a lad you know´ and wink at me.
We had a good chat about United and the history of the club and our love of it. After the champagne and a few more beers we waved goodbye and went back to our flat where I collapsed in a happy drunken heap and had a strange dream about being in a bar with my friends from the Glasgow Manchester United Supporters Club.
UNITED ARE THE CHAMPIONS, EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS, STRETFORD ENDERS SING THE STORY, OF UNITED´S PRIDE AND GLORY