May 1, 2008.
As someone who has whinged and moaned all season about an impending Champions' League final exclusively made up of bits of the Premier League East India Company, I reserve my right to backtrack and admit to a change of opinion. Perhaps its only the money and power after all, and perhaps it has something to do with the way football itself is filmed and televised, but to all appearances, the English clubs were the ones who did not blink first, and if they did, they took care to make the other side pay for their own lapse. This seems to be the basis of progress in modern cup competitions. And after having seen the first hour of an excellent match between United and Chelsea last week, perhaps it would not be out of the question to imagine that the match in Moscow will have something of the piratical and fearless about it. I didn't whinge when Italy and France went to Berlin, and I'm not going to whinge now.
Football is composed of drama. Last night there were two stories at loggerheads with each other, and Chelsea won the right to see theirs to a finish. We are all captivated on a day-to-day basis by the banalities of the teams we love, but there is arguably nothing small or banal about what is going on at Chelsea and Liverpool at the moment. Perhaps, perhaps, there is something a little less romantic [or less sordid?] about Chelsea's postmodern crisis of identity and too much being worse than too little, but for better or worse [I no longer dare say] they represent the change in English football more than any other team in the EPL, and if they - the players, the shady young oligarch, the coach, all of them - are serious about making history, then there is no better time to provide some answers to the neutrals.
I haven't been impressed with the way United have shaped up over the last couple of games, but hey, it's not like they're playing for my benefit. I do think their capacity for magnificence [successful magnificence, that is] has been unmatched this year, and as the respectful whispers about walking in the shadow of Munich begin circulating in the media, I think it would be nice to see some of that commitment to bold, beautiful football back again.
So I'm also interested in the Premier League title race in spite of myself. It would be a sour victory for my East India Company prejudices if one of them blinked now.