Friday, September 15, 2006


Hold the front page! For once, a match hyped up in the press actually managed to deliver the goods! Manchester United vs Celtic is never going to live in the memory in quite the same was as the Leeds United vs Celtic semi-final of 1970 (such is the the nature of the current bloated version of the European Cup), but it was an excellent match. Terrific entertainment. Because it was such a great match, I'm inclined to think that neither Manchester United or Celtic are likely to do very much in this year's competition. United had a hatful of chances, largely caused by Celtic's more-or-less non existent midfield, but there were sufficient gaps at the back for United to ensure that the result could have gone either way. Rio Ferdinand was having one of his staring of into space moments for the first Celtic goal (which is great news for England), and the injury to Ryan Giggs, who has been their best player so far this season, should make things more interesting at the top of the Premiership for the next couple of weeks, at least.

Arsenal, meanwhile, ploughed on with a 2-1 win in Hamburg, though playing against 10 men for eighty minutes did help them out considerably. I stand by my belief that they won't be any great shakes in the Champions League this season. They don't look good enough. Neither, I should add, do Real Madrid. I spent the majority of Wednesday night flicking between the United match and the match between Lyon and Real Madrid, and, my goodness, Real were wretched. They lost 2-0 and it should have been five or six. Fabio Capello has made a great show of the end of the Galactico era, but there doesn't appear to be much on offer to replace it at the moment. Coupled with this, the great players that they need haven't been brought in. Van Nistelrooy still looks out of sorts up front, and Beckham still flatters to deceive. They also could be in for a long, difficult, winter.

Finally, a quick word about Barcelona. For the first time, Barca's famous red and blue striped shirts will now have a big logo across the front of them (pedants take note: I'm disregarding the Nike swoosh for the sake of argument here), but the sponsorship has been spun on it's head here, as Barca will be sponsoring Unicef to the tune of just over £1m per year and carrying the charity's logo on their shirts for the next five years. There have, of course, been dark mutterings. Are they doing this to get supporters used to the idea of carrying a corporate logo on their shirts in a few years time? Are they doing this to increase the sales of their shirts? I'm not going to join the conspiracy theorists. In answer to the first question, since when did football clubs care about getting people used to the idea of something. In any case, Barca are a supporters owned club, and voted in favour of allowing shirt sponsorship several years ago. Secondly, they must be the biggest selling club in the shirts market in any case. I don't think that it actually will increase their shirt sales. I think that it is a massive gesture from a club that could quite easily have made £50m per season from sponsoring their shirts, and I think that it is striking to see the difference between this move and the recent behaviour of certain clubs and individuals in the Premiership.


discostu said...

Wow. Like you, i'm massively impressed with Barca, and would applaud any other club that decides to follow suit. Even Villa.

Chris Taylor said...

Now call me a cynic, but surely Barca are allowing unicef on their shirts merely as a way of introducing the idea of sponsorship to the fans? Once they see unicef on the shirt, they'll be less likely to kick up a fuss about any potential sponsor.

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