Ah, Champions League Tuesday. I could get used to this…Admittedly it’s only the qualifier, but this is still Europe’s premier club competition. That music still blares out at the start, and the nifty, starry football logo is still sewn into the shirt sleeves. After all these years of hurt it feels like Moses finally making it to the promised land (if the Israel of biblical times were full of the best footballers in the world, and plastered with obscenely-priced advertising hoardings, and admittedly if Moses hadn’t died just beforehand).
We ought to be quite capable, on paper and indeed on grass (or synthetic fibres, or whatever it is tonight), but with Daws’ shaky England debut last week still fresh in the memory, it seems conceivable that nerves may play a part tonight. Of our current mob Gomes and Crouch have CL experience, most of them toddled off on various UEFA Cup trips in lilywhite a few years back and just about every one of them has played internationally – but this is a different kettle of fish. Still, even if things go a little awry tonight, over two legs we ought to prevail.
Sod The Scoreline – Enjoy The Moment
While every man and his dog are aware of the importance of begging, stealing or borrowing our way into the lucrative™ group stages, I reckon I could happily die tonight just as soon as I see our lot march out to that Champions League theme tune. Given that we’re not going to win the entire competition (although after reflection last night I reckon we have a better chance of winning the Champs League than the Prem), tonight I plan just to relish the moment. Years and years of false dawns, kamikaze defending, managerial changes and incessant baiting from gooners have all been leading up to this moment. Where Blanchflower, Mackay and Greaves first went, back in the ‘60s, now it’s the turn of Dawson, Bale and Defoe. Absolutely ruddy marvellous.