Alan’s views on the past week in football on Tottenham, Alan Hansen, Sepp Blatter and the FA Cup Final.
Alan’s 2014 Summer Diary – No. 2
Sunday May 11
Tuesday May 13
I was surprised at what a perfect choice Gary Neville was as a pundit. His work has been excellent from day one. By contrast, although clearly knowledgeable I found Jamie Carragher’s squeaky garbled voice so difficult to follow I stopped watching Sky during the analysis spots. I think he has improved for the most part but I’m clearly not the only one who has struggled. Giles Smith: Sport on Television in the Times wrote that Steven Gerrard struggled manfully at Anfield to put his feelings into words, while Jamie Carragher struggled equally manfully to put his words into questions. “So close umpire attack a biscuit canyon? Champions League baked bean in the Bernard Haitink room?” Hilarious.
Friday 16 May
Sky News reports that Sepp Blatter has said on Swiss television that it was a mistake to award the World Cup to Qatar.
Yes of course-you know everybody makes mistakes in life.
Not that sort of mistake you don’t. It was not a one–off spur of the moment bad choice by an individual. This was a vote by representatives of various FAs following a campaign. It was rank maladministration and mismanagement. Anyone with a modicum of common sense could see how ridiculous it was. The decision was taken by some people that have already been proved to be corrupt and should therefore be reversed. Blatter presided over it and initially defended it. It beggars belief that he has the cheek to stand again for election and that he has not been slung out on his ear.
Saturday 17 May
Sigh. It had to happen didn’t it? Arsenal 2-0 down to Hull in the Cup Final. I knew the goals had come too early and they would claw it back. It was like it was being played out to a script. 3 – 2 to the Arsenal in extra time with a goal of class from Aaron Ramsey. The only thing we have had over them for the past 10 years is that we had won a trophy more recently. Now not even that. Even though they are our main rivals, you have to respect the fact that they have done it by sticking to their guns (ahem) and playing stylish attractive football. Arsene Wenger managed to hold it together (just) during the darkest points of the last couple of seasons. Imagine how it must have felt after 18 years when some of the fans were calling for his head a few months ago and Jose Mourinho said he was an expert at losing. Imagine how he felt at the final whistle this evening; a winner of the FA Cup once more, with a team he built himself. Mourinho, undoubtedly a great manager was the loser this season. You could forgive Wenger for coming out and saying “who’s the loser now?” but he won’t. Too dignified by half, so I’ll say it for him. It sticks in the craw because he is Arsenal but credit where credit’s due.
What I did think was a bit much was the way the engraver was carving Arsenal’s name into the brand new cup live on TV with 5 minutes of the game to go. During that time Hull twice came within a whisker of getting a third goal. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if they had scored. Can you rub out engravings? Would you have to change it instead so that it said “Arsenal…didn’t win but Hull did”.
Sunday 18 May
They say 250,000 people came out for the open top bus parade. If that doesn’t send a message about the importance of the FA Cup from the people to the Arsenal board, the Premier League, the FA and even the government, I don’t know what will. Even allowing for the fact that Arsenal fans had almost forgotten what it was like to be winners, you don’t get an open top bus parade and a quarter of a million people out on the streets for coming 4th in the league. It is long overdue that winning the FA Cup was granted a qualification slot for the Champions League because when you win it, you are Champions.