What a very pleasant hour and and half that was! I have no particular dislike of United. I lived in Manny for eight years and saw them as often as I saw City, but then they were just a giant club with no success and incredibly loyal fans. I remember when I was Chairperson of the Greater Manchester branch of the Football Supporters’ Association. Tiny and barely noticeable by the big clubs. However, with a month or two of becoming the United manager, Freebie and Archie Knox turned up to talk to our little band of fans about what he was going to do. From that point on I have respected the man, leaving aside the fact that he has shown brilliance in very step of his managerial career.
Last night however, he had the straw but his bricks were markedly inferior to those from Catalonia. No dishonour in defeat. I would be surprised if any commentator suggests with the perfect vision of hindsight that tactical or personnel changes could have been made that would have delivered a different outcome.
The more salient point is to wonder if Barcelona are setting out a new way of playing, much in the way that Celtic did in 1967 and England did the year before. Of course the former was positive and the latter was negative, but the effects are unquestionable. We are all used to the stats that Barcelona produce in many games: possession above 60% passes above 500. Can others take on this method and have football continue its move towards greater artistry and less emphasis on the zonal graveyard? It should be an interesting decade.