While a late William Gallas strike spared Arsenal the indignity of a Champions League opening loss at Dynamo Kiev earlier today, a pair of the Gunners’ English rivals had far more successsful first round matches yesterday, though you wouldn’t know it to hear from the managers of Chelsea and Liverpool writes the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning.
“Look,” raged Big “Phil” (above), pulling at his little grey tufts of ear hair. “We know we didn’t play well. We made far too many mistakes. “If you are sloppy, you give your opponents opportunities. We have the experience to know better,” he added, successfully working himself up into a froth over a 4-0 scoreline and a display by the visitors that carried as much lurking menace as a small slice of cucumber.
Aflame with righteous self-loathing, the Fiver then turned to Rafa Benitez’s hand-wringing assessment of a tasty 2-1 away win in Marseille. “We must do better and I know we can be better,” Benitez wailed, thumbing through his collection of motivational cue cards from the best-selling series Compete Guide To Being Better Through Pointing And Whistling. “We know we can improve, the players said that in the dressing room,” he added, offering a broad interpretation of a few muttered conversations about very expensive wrist watches.
Still, at least the new mood of macho introspection is some way from the days when an edgy 4-4 at home to the Albanian league winners would be cause for confetti-laden podium explosion. Although, there are of course those who would say suggesting that a lone second half opposition corner kick is grounds for a thorough bamboo garden stake-caning of your entire playing staff might just be up there with expecting the cream of European club football to collapse in a whimpering heap of hair gel and continental gentleman’s cologne half an hour from Fulham Broadway.
Although, at this point the Fiver found itself so confused by the modern managerial semantic it had to clear its head by slamming its foot in the fridge door and upending an entire bottle of Worcestershire sauce over the verrucca on its big toe. And then listening to another Big “Phil” tirade about not scoring enough goals. And again. And. Again. Until. It. Really. Hurts.