Date:Sunday May 18 2008
United take on Chelsea in the Champions League final on Wednesday - but you must have heard of it unless you are living on a far-away island in a shabby cave.
What you should know is that the build-up is all about psychological warfare. Sir Alex Ferguson is often accused with playing mind games yet on this occasion the members of the Chelsea camp were the frontrunners, keeping up this nice tradition.
Joe Cole started it by claiming Lionel Messi is better than Ronaldo - we discussed it elsewhere and it's rubbish. Then Avram Grant came up with his conspiracy theory: despite overwhelming amount of evidence against it he still stated that ref favoured United. Fergie could not be bothered and lazily shrugged off the old toad, saying he could go on about decisions but that's not the point now.
He added that he was aware Grant had been saying that with the sole aim of creating a little unrest among the United ranks ahead of the Moscow showpiece. His players are not to be left behind on this front: Wayne Rooney questioned whether Drogba's head is at its proper place - not anatomically but metaphorically speaking.
'Sometimes it seems as if his head is not quite there,' said Rooney, referring either to the temperament of the striker or his supposed and perfectly understandable desire to leave Chelsea. Nemanja Vidic quickly jumped on the bandwagon and raised the done-to-death topic of Drogba's questionable balance.
'Sometimes he goes in very strong and sometimes he pretends he is weak. He plays with your mind and tries to make the defender think about the next tackle,' Vida told The Sunday Times.
'He can pretend he fell down to win a penalty, but referees know that. The Champions League final is a big game and I'm sure the ref will know his job.
'He's a great player and he's a top scorer. It's a hard job to stop him.'
Well, it's not the best idea to wind-up Drogba - Benitez also accused him of being a diver (which he is) and the Ivorian destroyed them in response. There are better targets for a little pisstaking, guys.
The evil empire that is Chelsea strikes back though, using their lethal weapon, Petr Cech. The keeper issued a stark warning about the dangers of a league title.
'We have extra motivation because we wanted to win the title and in the end we lost it by two points.
'It will be interesting to see how both teams come to Moscow because we had a disappointment while they were celebrating.
'Sometimes celebrating can affect you more than the defeat. So we'll see how they cope with pressure.'
Well, yeah, we won't be motivated enough - who cares about that rubbish old trophy anyway? And United will be under serious pressure, after all it will be a total failure if we end up only with that worthless Premier League trophy.
The winner, though, is Sir Alex Ferguson: the boss did not hit back at Avram Grant but expressed his disbelief that there is still speculation that the Israeli might be sacked despite taking Chelsea to the Champions League final - which is a big achievement and would already be enough to earn him a ten-year contract at most clubs. I suppose Grant shouldn't bother about winning it then!
Date:Sunday May 18 2008
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