As mentioned in passing yesterday, Manchester United took the away leg of their Champions League quarterfinal with Roma yesterday, 2-0. Impressive though that might’ve been, the Guardian’s Scott Murray and Barney Ronay are having trouble putting the Red Devils’ achievment into some historical perspective. “Imagine our surprise this morning at the discovery that what we’d witnessed the night before on the 64-inch Polytron round-screen was in fact a ROOMAN INVASION. And that, according to the nation’s best-selling news-scrawl sheets, Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t just ‘reduced Rome to ruins’, he was also ‘the best in the world’ and a ‘superman’.” One capable of seriously enraging his opponents, too.
Oddly, the hyper-ventilating wasn’t confined to the wart-ridden, sherry-stained gentlemen of the fourth estate. Joining the hysteria were the wart-ridden, scooter-riding, amaretto-stained, sunglasses-on-head, tanks-in-reverse-gear Italian hack pack. “Too much Ronaldo,” blared the headline in Gazzetta dello Sport, as re-interpreted through the Fiver’s 1974 Italian CSE course book. It was “a night of lambs, not of she-wolves”. Not only that, the visitors were “unstoppable”, “merciless”, “a true curse” and “a lesson in cynicism”. All of which is, apparently, good. Meanwhile Tutto Sport, a Turin-based multi-flavoured ice cream, went big on Roma’s “annihilation”, observing: “Ferguson teaches Spalletti another lesson.”
In fact, chaos now reigns in Italy. Witness news that Roma supremo Luciano Spalletti is taking his gleaming, bulbous pate off to Milan, to take over from incumbent bouffant-haired curmudgeon Carlo Ancelotti. Top name in the frame for the impending Roma vacancy? None other than bouffant-haired curmudgeon Carlo Ancelotti, who has described Rome as “the most beautiful city in the world”, no doubt having returned from a pleasant citibreak with the lovely bouffant-haired curmudgeonly Mrs Ancelotti.
And what news of the man referred to in this morning’s big-print press as RON NIL? Despite banging in a series of back-heels, 30-yard toe-pokes and, as of last night, 1950s Tommy Lawton-style net-busting headers, there still seems to be a debate going on as to whether he’s actually any good. “Ronaldo? He’s just a big head,” shrugged Roma midfielder David Pizarro this morning in assorted Italian news outlets. Which may well be the case. But then again, if the Fiver had read a series of newspaper articles comparing it to the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, George Best, Eric Cantona, Zorro, Wittgenstein, Pele, Darth Vader, Kaka and Spiderman, it might have some fairly funny ideas about itself too.