WELCOME to our weekly round-up of British sport where we’ll be reflecting on the big talking points and looking forward to the next big clashes.
By BARBARA DOUGLAS
I’D HAVE paid good money to see Ed Woodward’s face when Manchester United drew FC Rostov in the Europa League.
Russia has the same sort of reputation for football hooliganism that we had in the dark old days of the 1970s. So what do FIFA do, why give them the next World Cup of course!
Jose Mourinho’s men laboured to a 1-1 draw on the ropey turf but it was off it where the real concerns lay.
The very fact United fans who had braved the trip to the Russia/Ukraine border town were warned not to wear clubs colours or draw attention to themselves is wrong.
If you can’t play nicely, you shouldn’t be allowed to play at all.
Highly organised groups of Russian ‘fans’ – we’re talking hooligan training camps –fought English supporters on the streets of Marseille during the last Euros.
I say fight but it was more blood-thirsty part-time soldiers ambushing drunk, out-of-shape middle-aged men. Hardly fair but they seem unaware we have moved on and still consider us a ‘scalp’.
A Russian minister recently suggested that hooliganism should be legalised and made into a spectator sport. No really!
Igor Lebedev it seems loves a scrap and actually said of his 20-a-side idea that ‘Russia would be a pioneer in a new sport’.
I’ve met a lot of pricks in my life but you sir are a f***ing cactus!
SPARE a thought for Arsene Wenger.
For years the football purist has been trying to craft a team in the mould of Barcelona.
Finally this European campaign he matched the Spaniards in terms of skill and scoreline.
That’s right, the night after Messi & Co were thwacked 4-0 in the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain, the Gunners lost by a four-goal margin themselves, a humbling 5-1 at Bayern Munich.
Then to add insult to injury in the second leg this week Bayern battered them again 5-1 to go through 10-2, while Barca showed exactly how to overturn a four goal deficit in scintillating style.
The Catalans’ 6-1 victory was the stuff of dreams. After Luis Suarez scored after three minutes the hosts stormed into a 3-0 lead – just one behind on aggregate.
The Nou Camp was jumping – then silenced when Edinson Cavani scored PSG’s away goal meaning for the second time in one evening Messi & Co needed to score three times.
Barca were still 5-3 down overall in the 88th-minute and all hope looked lost. But one man – and for once it was not the magical Messi but Neymar – never gave up.
It was his sumptuous free-kick, cool penalty and sublime chip for Sergi Roberto’s injury time winner which saw the stadium explode.
So Barca fans were treated to one of the best European comebacks of all time, while Gunners supporters were mercilessly trolled and twitter almost melted down with apoplectic #wengerout tweets.
There is no doubt Le Professeur has been brilliant for Arsenal Football Club.
He revolutionised them from top to bottom from the moment he arrived in England in 1996 as an unknown from Grampus Eight in Japan.
The Invincible year is woven into the club’s folklore as are the six FA Cups and three titles won under his management.
But it is 12 long years since the last Premier League crown, the natives are getting restless, time and football have moved on and overtaken the 67-year-old Frenchman.
And after this latest giant clusterfart of a campaign even his staunchest supporters are now thinking ‘off is the general direction we’d like you to f*** this summer’.
AND finally the Six Nations returns this weekend.
Eddie Jones has done the unthinkable and made millions of English rugby fans fall in love with an Aussie.
And if he masterminds victory over another of our old enemies – the Scots – on Saturday we’ll all love that wry, cheeky grin a little more.