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Fergie fouls up

Robbo Robson | 12:33 UK time, Thursday, 28 May 2009

It was a bit of a disappointment. We neutrals were looking for a football feast and although we got a spicy little starter through the Portuguese Prancing Horse it all went quiet after Etoo's sorbet-cool finish. After that it was a kind of tapas medley that never quite filled you up.

The Blue Bell wasn't buying into the ABU brigade. But then again we weren't exactly warming to United in the build-up either. All this on the threshold of history rot.

There's Fergie talking up matching Real Madrid in the long term. There's Ronaldo saying how he is a winner and nothing less will do. There's David Gill saying how he hopes they can keep hold of Tevez 'cos football is littered with players who feel a bit second-best after they've been at United. Gerard Pique springs to mind.

Cristiano Ronaldo reflects on Champions League defeatThere was a sense that the Red Devils had it coming. But it was a shock how rubbish they actually were. That midfield always looks a bit lightweight without Scholes and latterly Fletcher.

I've had people argue the toss about Anderson with me before. Just 'cos he's Brazilian doesn't mean he's not average. He's Nicky Butt with dreadlocks if you ask me. Giggs was... I was going to say peripheral but that suggests he was on the pitch and I didn't spot him out there.

I heard Tyldesley say that Carrick can pass the ball as well as anyone in a Barca shirt. Right. That's like saying you can go just as fast in a Mondeo as you can in a Ferrari. I actually don't know anyone who can shift a ball around a park better than Xavi and Iniesta. Carrick doesn't even make it into the same continent as them two lads.

Fact is Ferguson got it wrong. (Hooray! Makes a bleeding change!)
First of all he should have made sure he got some less comfy seats to sit on. There were times when he looked like he was sat at home going through his Morse box-set rather than watching his team on the threshold of history.

Second of all, the tactics were wrong. You can't out-pass Barca. Hiddink showed him the way. Get into them when they've got the ball and attack them hard on the break.

Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez have terrified better defences than the re-jigged one Barca were forced to put out in Rome by playing that way. United's midfield looked like panto dupes as they pursued a ball that was being pinged about them while the Catalans cat-called 'Behind you!!'

Ronaldo was guilty of trying to win the game on his own sometimes but then at least he was a threat. No one else was. It was billed as a battle between the Tumbler and Twinkletoes and although Messi's header will be forever remembered, there's no doubt that the ghostly Iniesta was the star of the show. He's so effortless, that lad, that at one point I was convinced he was wearing hover boots.

United will return stronger and narkier if Ferguson's post-match petulance is anything to go by. He could wind his neck in sometimes. He's bound to get questions about his hunger. Everyone knows as you get older you tend to pick at your food. Still he was gracious enough to acknowledge that the better team won.

There's much to admire about Barca but excuse me if I don't wrap meself in blue and red and call meself a Catalan. Yes it's brilliant that they give money to Unicef, that the fans own the club, that they play that pretty way and won't compromise, that the stars of the side came through the club structure. They're a joy to watch.

But there was a lot of glib and sentimental claptrap being thrown around the morning after the night before. There are grown men bleating about how every club should be like Barca. They're grumbling that their team is just a victim of Premier League greed and the fans should run it.

Well go ahead. Sort it out. They tried it at United when the Glazers took over. Not enough fans were bothered. United haven't done half-bad since the Yanks came in, have they?

Fans don't whinge if there are results on the pitch. There's not been a single Chelsea fan complaining about Abramovich. I doubt there'll be an anti-Abu Dhabi lobby at Eastlands either. I don't want to belittle Barca - the players are already little enough, bless 'em - but the charm of the club is that it's a unique set-up.
Michel Platini congratulates Lionel Messi
Pundits have even been asking what United can learn from Barca. Not much. The Old Beetroot knows plenty and another big reason why they lost was that his players were pretty damn feeble on the night. The trophy cabinet's still heaving, so to be fair, it's a pretty hollow gloat I'm enjoying.

Fergie'll know it's the end of the road for United's homegrown '99 vintage. Scholesy could've left the piece with a trademark volley but instead went for the trademark runaway shopping trolley tackle and inevitable booking.

Giggsy's swansong was a whimper and I hear the Man U shop have a new set of backside-warmers for cold benches called the RedNev Collection coming out in August. Good lads one and all, but it's time to grab a well-earned cosy job upstairs at OT and let the little lads do the talking.

The only thing that really annoyed me, apart from that ridiculous spewing forth of gold paper that they do when the trophy's lifted - so much of the damn stuff you can't see the players celebrating - was the old 'I won't wear my runners-up medal round my neck' nonsense.

I was brought up to think that if you came second you didn't have to pleased with it but you could accept it if you were a grown-up. Keep the thing round your neck even if it feels like a bloody great millstone. It's a sign of respect I reckon. Just make sure it's a different colour next time.

Still it's the Cup Final Saturday. That'll be a thriller. Chelsea, 2-0. Robbo, an afternoon kip. Lovely.


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