The match was a spectacle. The performance was spectacular. The result was just. The emotion was jubilation. The evening was happy. The omens, however, were not good. We beat Braga 6-0, sure, but, in the last few seasons, as we all remember, we beat Fenerbahce 5-2 in Turkey and at the Emirates Porto 4-0 and 5-0, AZ 4-1 and Slavia Prague 7-0. We have done it all before. It ends up meaning little. It’s a nights entertainment and not a season defining juncture.
If i compare Barcelona to us, well, it’s akin to watching a 120 minute 2010 Hollywood comedy farce instead of a Charlie Chaplin classic. We are the Hollywood farce. It’s entertainment but it’s inconsequential. Barcelona, often enough, are like the Charlie Chaplin classic. They play that way and have won the biggest trophy, the Champions League, two times in the last five seasons. When they don’t they are usually semi finalists. There is something perennially magnificent about the way they do it. Us, on the other hand, we are a forget a while later farce. It’s not easy to write this. We just won 6-0 and i am critical. Only i have reason, don’t i?
Perhaps a 6-0 Champions League victory in the middle of September is enough in-it-self. More pertinently, perhaps it should be. But it’s not. It doesn’t satisfy. Do i expect too much?
No. I would quite happily trade these exorbitant, unnecessary, multiple goal victories for something far more tangible at the end of it. Give me nine 1-0’s, three 1-1 away draw’s and a 2-1 victory in the final instead. I can do without these several goal victories that read like scores in the opening over of a cricket t20 international (6-0, 4-0, 5-1). Or rather, keep winning by several goals, only this time win the trophy at the end too. Like Barcelona do. Unless Jose Mourinho is there. Or Paul Scholes. But that’s another matter. Barcelona aren’t perfect and i dare say if it wasn’t for their existence we might actually be the most popular team on the planet (at least in terms of aesthetic enjoyment) but they do know how to manifest a good style into one which produces trophies.
Let me put it this way. We won’t be having an open top bus parade in May because we won a game in September 6-0. We would, though, (or at least be more likely to) if we won plenty of other matches with a more cautious approach. Not that i am advocating a cautious approach now. No, far from it. After all, it works every season in the group stage, let it keep rolling, but i want the team to develop a defensive solidity about them, an appreciation for a tight victory, that is arrived at, typically, by repeatedly winning games when you really don’t deserve too. As Manchester United and Chelsea do. There is something beautiful in that too, i remember.
It’s not just about winning 6-0. It’s about winning trophies. We want Charlie Chaplin classics, sure, but if we can’t have that at least let’s have some Only Fools and Horses. Very very very good even if it doesn’t translate that well and isn’t really great. What i’m really saying is let’s just drop the Hollywood 120 minute farce. Because winning 6-0 in September is nothing but exactly that if there is no worthwhile reward at the very end.