10 April 2008
We didn't learn from last year, clearly. At the semi-final stage of the Champions League, there were three English clubs plus AC Milan. Immediately, the pundits on TV, radio and in the papers all began to predict which club was going to win.
Nobody picked out AC Milan.
AC Milan won it.
This year, it's three more English clubs plus Barcelona. Fans of the three English clubs, plus last night's rollcall of severe coaching failure (Wilkins, Hoddle and Souness) on Sky's punditry stools, all began to predict victories for Chelsea, or Manchester United, or Liverpool.
No mention of Barcelona.
English football may bask in the glory of the most progress within the Champions League, but ultimately the club which grasps that trophy is the one that matters. And although Manchester United have a better chance against Barcelona than Liverpool or Chelsea would, ultimately the Spanish giants are the team to beat.
Only two teams from England have won the competition since it became the Champions League, and each relied on considerable luck to do so. I fear that despite the progress of four to the quarter finals and three to the semis, ultimately none will again progress to the winners' podium.
(I hope I'm wrong by the way, although only Manchester United are actually worthy of the title).