It was such a shame that the Liverpool game had to end in defeat. We arguably deserved a point and the game ended with a feeling of frustration. However, there were a number of positives to take from the game, and Shaun Wright-Phillips was one of them.
City’s trading of Wright-Phillips to Chelsea and back again could not have worked out better. A bucket load of cash at a time when it was needed saw us reluctantly say good-bye to a hero. Most football fans felt he made the wrong move in transferring to Chelsea. He was a smaller fish in a bigger sea at Chelsea, and struggled to get the first team games he craved for his career development.
However, perhaps what was missed in all the coverage of Wright-Phillips was just how much he was learning from all of the world-class players he was surrounded by in his time at Chelsea. He has returned to City a different player. He still rampages down the wing turning defenders one way and the other. But he has added so much to his game. His link-up play with Ireland and Robinho against Liverpool was evidence that he has what it takes to dictate a game. He was everywhere in that game. It was a great performance and he thoroughly deserves his England recall. To think we bought him back for £8.5 million.
I had another great day out at the Liverpool game in spite of the result. I travelled from Brussels to Manchester in the morning and was fortunate enough to meet Vincent Kompany’s family on the flight. His Dad, Brother, Uncle and Manager were all on the flight. I hope fans don’t mind that I told his father that we think Vincent is a great signing. He’s clearly a very proud father. We were talking in French but I think I gleaned that Vincent’s (younger-sounding) cousin is at Chelsea, don’t quote me though. I kind of thought the writing was on the wall for the game when Kompany’s manager told me he was a Liverpool fan.
Anyhow, having met the family I felt obliged to back Kompany to be first goalscorer, and threw in last goalscorer for good measure. With both bets at 28/1, it would have been dreamland if he had scored. As it turned out it was clearly dreamland at half-time. I said to my mates that Liverpool would almost certainly get it back to 2-2 with 10 minutes to go, leaving the inevitable nail-biting finish. And so it was more or less. The various television highlights didn’t highlight the ref’s poor performance. The sending off was understandable but inconsistent with the Skrtel kung-fu kick on Jo. He had numerous other poor decisions on both sides.
I finished the day flying back to London on a really cheap deal I booked with BMI. I was a bit flat but by no means in a bad mood. The first half was excellent and we had managed to seriously challenge Liverpool. You could say we were naïve at times in the second half and Sky argued that we should have shut up shop. I still think we have the basis of a great passing side. Mark Hughes has a touch job on his hands building the side. Rome wasn’t built in a day. But Hughes is the man to make it happen.
What really wound me up at the airport was some yellow-jacketed idiot working on BMI’s ground staff showing off in front of a travelling young girl he obviously knew. A call came through on his walkie-talkie from the check-in desk asking whether or not a late running male with no bag could be allowed to board the Aberdeen flight. In full view of the young girl he replied smiling on his walkie-talkie like a true ****, “ahhh….that’s a negative….we’re leaving in 15 minutes.” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There was no queue at security and it would take all of 5 minutes for this poor guy to get to the gate where we were. There were also still around 15 people waiting to board. This guy would now miss the last flight back home, no doubt to his family. I had a word but it was pointless. Let’s hope the credit crunch forces people like this to serve customers rather than screw them over.
I boarded my flight to London fuming after this incident. Not least because said pen-pushing, yellow-jacketed idiot was escorting his female friend onto the same flight as me. Then they got the headcount wrong and delayed the flight by 15 minutes. “All they have to do is count,” I blurted out, as I began to realise that the match result was actually having more of an effect on me than I had bargained for.
I became aware of a smiling fellow passenger to my right. It took me a while to realise it was Dean Saunders. Spending time talking to him on the flight back, I realised that my post-match tension paled into insignificance in comparison to the stress faced by football managers.
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