Can anyone explain quite why UEFA needs to deliver the lavish method of drawing the various stages of the Champions League when me and my mate can do it at home, on our own, after watching Barcelona destroy Chelsea?
With their Stretford Darlings consigned to the recycle bin, devastation swept through UEFA HQ as the Faceless Hotballers of Nyon set about securing the 2018 Champions League futures of the two clubs that frighten them most, notably Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
It is with some amazement that they skilfully negotiated ensuring that Bayern, Real and Barcelona remained separated while the returning “old kids on the block” were paired with the “new kids on the block” in order to eliminate at least another part of the “English threat” at the earliest opportunity. You could almost see them loading four balls into the microwave while keeping the remainder in the freezer.
Not only did they achieve that, but they somehow contrived to arrange for the said Bayern and Real to be drawn away in the first leg, presenting each with a favoured opportunity to repair any damage in front of their own fans. Too add insult to injury, Liverpool and City have to play each other twice in six days either side of their local derbies. True Liverpool and Everton is little more than a weekly exercise for the real mighty reds, but the City-Stretford affair may well have the Premier League title hanging on it, before City go again three days later, to try to secure a place in the semi-final.
My mate and I looked at the eight teams left on Wednesday night and predicted how the draw would manifest itself more or less to the letter, except that we had the Liverpool-City fixture the other way around to reduce City`s chances as much as possible.
On the plus side, at least both teams are still in the competition for now. United performed yet another Mourinho Masterclass, straight of the Porto book, but this time to no positive effect. They were not even as good as dire. What has happened to them? Mour money isn`t the answer Jose. The answer is to get something out of the footballers you have. The Pog seems to have died a death, Sanchez looks like a pub player, even the mighty De Gea, for three seasons your best players, looks as though he`s chucked in the towel and can`t wait to get back to his beloved Madrid on the first available easyJet. You have murdered Rashford who, if properly coached, could become something similar to Sane with possibly more goals in him. At Sold Trafford he will stagnate before following the Phil Jones, Smalling et al to the exit chute. Whereas the two mentioned will probably end up at West Ham or something like that, at least Rashford could find his way to something more in line with his ambitions.
Both Klopp and Guardiola would have preferred avoidance of each other, but paradoxically they will both be secretly relishing this contest, which gives each of them the chance to right some wrongs. City with their woeful record at Anfield must make sure that they play the match and not the occasion as the home of the five-time winners of the competition will be rocking to the rafters as they once again belittle themselves by booing Sterling, who in my opinion should be absented from this match.
One forgets that City only lost 4-3 at Anfield this year. The commentating and pundit world seems to think that time stood still at 4-1 and that City`s two late goals were goals of a consolation nature. They forget that Aguero came within a whisker of equalising and of the match had gone on for five minutes more City would have won as their midfield bottlers lost control.
It will be one of the most interesting weeks in the whole history of Manchester City and one that we can`t wait for.