Something For The Weekend (272)
Someone once called London the Great Wen and so I suppose the national stadium has to be the Great Wenbley - the running sore of disillusionment and the oozing carbuncle of discontent. The builder of hope, but too often the reminder of the ugly reality - the operating theatre where the vanquished are eviscerated under strong light.
So it goes.
For those of us who kept our money in our pockets and only made the short journey to the sofa, it might be expected that we would feel better than those who took a charabanc to the smoke, but it didn't feel that way. We enjoyed our TV build-up with all those nostalgic interviews, with those who had brought back the silverware but ultimately, there was no escaping the bitter misery of feeling cheated and outdone on the day.
Or was it just done?
There was plenty of bitter fruit to chew on over the week. Not least of which was Phil Dowd's genuflection to the needs of the sponsors and the world-wide audience, mostly tuned in to watch Man United, by re-writing the rules of the game rather than spoil the spectacle and of course United's chances. Eighty-five minutes is one hell of a long time for a team to play with ten men, even if you are United. What with Man United's debts and the importance of the brand, he just didn't have the heart, the honesty, or the bottle.
We might be disappointed but we understand your priorities Mr Dowd.
Of course, if Villa had built on their early lead and had not fluffed their crucial lines, the dud Dowd's decision need not have mattered and despite a reasonable performance, Villa didn't make much of a convincing case that they understood the meaning of the phrase Carpe Diem.
After the crown of thorns came the drink of vinegar and the stab in the ribs, to complete the agony, as the most painful realisation dawned, that Ferguson had once again managed to estimate Villa's capacities perfectly, as he demonstrated by playing his second-best striker and leaving his number one, on the bench. Obviously, if Dowd hadn't done the righteous thing, this was in danger of going awry but with the Ref's co-operation, the plan worked perfectly and Villa found themselves weighed and estimated to within a planck and Fergie had out-flanked them once again.
My bitterest thoughts of all, surrounded Michael Owen. There just seemed something unjust about a guy who charged Newcastle a £1m a goal, the cynical sting of all time, should be handed a medal, to throw to the back of his draw, while better Villa men went without.
If football is the sport of the people, then the fans are the sport of the gods.
So what in the world was I going to do?
You tell 'em Rory!
Ferguson was right - unless you win, Wembley is a miserable day out.
But even when you win, even though you might not dwell on it, there's no getting away from the fact that Wembley never quite lives up to the media drivel and hype. The old stadium was what might be called a triumph of biscuit-tin architecture. That is a British monument, which looks great on the biscuit tins sent out to impress the colonials but doesn't bear the scrutiny of close inspection, or experience. The biscuit-tins of the world, never did show the scrap yard which tended to detract from the romance of the much-vaunted Wembley Way.
From all the reports of those returning from their travails in the capital, things haven't changed much. The old mentality still persists and the BBC still consider it their patriotic duty to talk up the Wembley experience, in a way they would consider shameful, if they were doing any other consumer programme.
Not for them any attempt at an undercover exposť of the great Munchies fiasco , the scandal of a sick man ruthlessly deprived of his comestible of relief. Not for them the endless queues, or the disgraceful failings of the security checks. No they only ever go from the biscuit-tin shot to the dressing-rooms, which because they almost live up to the high standards of an MFI fitted bedroom, we are expected to fall down in a swoon of awe and admiration.
They don't even take a look at the pitch, or as it is better known; the national divot collection. Even the San Siro has got a better pitch than Wembley, these days.
All reports seem to suggest that even when we bring in some Germans to build a stadium for a billion quid, it doesn't mean that British management will do a decent job of running it. The FA have taken their cue (I mean queue) from British bus companies, who when people complain about lousy service, spend millions on new bus stops, so people, at least feel more comfortable while they wait for the bus that doesn't arrive.
We can look forward to the same people running the Olympics and it looks unlikely they will be in the medals.
When Brazil came to town on Tuesday, they made the wise choice of playing at the Emirates, where the divots definitely do not reign. It was all very wonderful with Ireland doing a reasonable job of not looking too overawed, even with the Villa contingent missing.
Brazil were in full diplomatic mode, as they seemed to have decided that you don't make too many friends, if you out-play your hosts for the whole game. They let the Irish lads have a kick in the first half, for respectability's sake, and then took them apart in the second, so there was something for everyone from the London Irish to the fans of the beautiful game.
I started to feel better by Thursday, when there was even more footie on the box, when mighty England took on the Egyptians. The first half was gratifyingly scruffy for England, with Lampard looking heart-warmingly bad and Rooney looking decidedly short of world-class. This resulted in him losing his temper, which because it is World Cup year, was ingratiatingly called passion. The rest of us were left with the impression that maybe he's not quite good enough to win the tournament on his own.
The game really didn't improve until the high-minded England fans, who started their campaign for celibacy and fidelity on the night, stopped booing John Terry, Carrick replaced Lampard and Crouch
replaced Defoe. It got even better when Villa's James Milner came on and he looked a very decent replacement for Gerrard, as he never gave the ball away, spread the play and set up a goal for Wright-Phillips.
At last my petrified Villa corpuscles began to thaw.
But it will take a decent performance at Reading on Sunday, to stop my lower-lip trembling.
When football lets you down, there is always tush:
Keep the faith!
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