Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Modesty Manchester-style

Never let it be said Alex Ferguson and company are sore losers. So they got dumped out by having to play a superior AC Milan team in the second round. Well, if they hadn't noticed, they were playing in a cup competition! That means that you can get knocked out. The competition has already been expanded beyond recognition to make it all but impossible for most top teams to qualify - and indeed, has reinforced the hold of top teams on the domestic competitions due to the huge levels of funding given to qualifying teams. If you can't put the product on the pitch, you don't deserve the help from the money you get.

Arsene Wenger's comments are a sad indictment on sport nowadays:
"You can't afford to have Real Madrid and Manchester United -
big clubs who invest so much money - going out in the last 16.

You will have a revolt if it continues like that. "

Why? Why on earth should it spark a revolt? The whole purpose of sport is to see competition on as level a playing field as possible; so that the better team on the day wins. Not to reward clubs with huge commercial empires; not to reward clubs with a great history; but to test ability in the here and now. If it had been held fifty years ago, the financial benefits given to clubs such as Burnley or Blackpool may have seen them maintain an unfair advantage. Quite simply, times move on, and the amount of money invested in a club or the amount dependent upon Champions League performance should have NO bearing whatsoever on the organisation of a competition.

No-one was weeping for Leeds when they ran into the wall after gambling on continued Champions League qualification. And rightly so. No sports team has a right to succeed ahead of any other. The only test is that of ability. Manchester Utd have had their nose put out of joint because they are no longer the pace-setters in England and competitive in Europe. The responsibility for that lies with their board, their manager and their players, and no-one else. Rather than whinging about not being up to scratch, they should respond the way all good teams to - going out and winning last year. The name Manchester United does not bring success automatically. It has to be worked for. Whingers should be given no respect.