My Dear Q,
I MUST tell you that since my last letter to you, I have received more emails from both friends and foes; some making comments about the political crisis now threatening British democracy, others making observations and correcting me on some few grammatical errors, and a few challenging my opinions on British politics but never the less, welcome the opportunity to read me every Wednesday and a small number of emails requesting that I focus on politics in Sierra Leone today.
Indeed, an email which came last Saturday, suggested that I write about Sierra Leone’s Parliament and explore whether there are lessons to be learnt from what is happening in Britain today, I must say that this came as a great honour because of the originator. And that it is a very tempting suggestion to a wounded leopard. But whether it would be appropriate for me to go down that road has given me some thought.
I ought to add that there were emails about sports as well, especially about football. Well, talking of football, by this time tomorrow, depending on which side you belong, you will either be celebrating or, wondering what went wrong on the “night of magic in Rome”, to quote Sir Alex Fergusson of Manchester United.
We have negatives in the game that surface every year in all different ways,” reflected Alex Fergusson recently, relaxing before training at Carrington. “When we get a game of football that gives the real story of football then we are all lifted by it. Football always needs a boost. Manchester United and Barcelona can do that in this final”, the Manchester United Manager told Journalists before getting down to the serious business of football training.
Across the Channel, the Spanish too are looking forward to a night of beautiful football. According to the President of Barcelona, Joan Laporta, the final between Barcelona and Manchester United tonight is the “dream final” the world of football has been waiting for all these years. Well, as a die-hard Liverpool supporter, that statement is debatable.
Indeed, whilst we Liverpool supporters will want to debate the merit of that statement, my local football team supporters would disagree outright. Indeed, it is my understanding that Chelsea supporters still believe that they were cheated out of the European Cup final.
And what do you think were the reactions of Real Madrid supporters, when they heard about the “dream final”? Rubbish! One told me the other night. Fantasy – another supporter whispered in my ears. What we are going to witness on the 27th May 2009 is a “farrago football”! A lady friend on our table shouted.
Hey! Don’t ask me, I had to re-visit my dictionary that night when I got home to look up the word “Farrago football”.
But just to help you, I am told that it’s an Italian football commentator’s slang in the old days. So lets fast forward to the digital age; its means you might witness some magical and beautiful moments from the likes of Ronaldo, Berbatov, Messi and Iniesta or even from Anderson and Samuel Eto. These are all players with the killer instincts to inflict serious pain on their opponent.
Then there will be moments of endurance to persevere from the likes of Park, Smari Gudjohnsen, Ryan Giggs, and Toure Yaya. But again, My dear Fellow, dreams can come true when you have players like Thierry Henry, Tevez, Rooney or Seydou Keita in front of goal, and the poor defence chap is so worried, that he loses his sense of direction or gives a penalty out of fear that his team is about to go down.
Almost by genetic default, these men have the magic and grace to confuse, disgrace and inflict pain on each other… I ought to mention that tonight; Park Ji-sung, Manchester United’s tireless South Korean midfielder will become the first Asian player to play in the European Cup final.
What about the likes of Ferdinand, Vidic, Mendes Campos or Alves da Silva, you may ask. Don’t trouble yourself, I haven’t forgotten them. These are the guys who play with such raw and unrefined determination to interfere with the beautiful game of scoring that it troubles me to even mention their names.
As a Liverpool supporter I hope you will understand what I am talking about because it was my team that defined the beauty of football in Europe and at home in England. As you may know, we have won the League championship 18 times, European Cup 5 times, FA Cup 7 times, and of course the League Cup 7 times as well.
Yes, we failed miserably to win any trophies this season. But that is football. Looking back, we missed out on the Premier League this year because we dropped points at home to Stoke, West Ham, Fulham, Manchester City and Hull.
Indeed, one commentator noted that 2008/2009 we will be remembered as the campaign in which Rafa Benitez produced a Liverpool side cast in his own image, a workaholic, formidably strong, devastatingly effective team almost impossible to beat. Yet, to the championship starved Anfield faithful, like my good-self here, it will be remembered more as the year that we learned that, that was not enough to win trophies. Not any more.
Many of my fellow supporters are optimistic about Liverpool’s future in the coming years, but the team management needs to go on a shopping spree to bring in players who can break down defensively minded opponents like the ones I was talking about just now. This is to avoid the waste we suffered this year
Talking about failures and waste of money, we should not forget that this season will be the third in a row that Arsenal have finished fourth and that their fans are running out of patience. The supporters are angry, disappointed and feel terribly let down by those who are running the club in North London.
Arsenal, once known as “The Invincibles”, has a very formidable record in the English Premier League; there is the historic run of; played 49, won 36, draw 13 and lost none.
Like Manchester United today, the Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger built a team that was solid in defence, unbreakable at the midfield and wickedly brutal up front. But today, it’s a different story at the Emirates stadium.
Talking to journalists just before their last match with Manchester United a few days ago, Arsene Wenger said that he has been left feeling like a murderer following the critical response to the club’s fourth consecutive season without a trophy.
“When you look at people assessing the situation of the clubs, it has become ridiculous”, the Arsenal Manager said. “You sit here, you are in the last four in Europe, and every day, you feel you have killed someone. If you do not take a distance with it, you think what kind of world do you live in?
“We lost against United who have 10 times more resources, they are the best in the world. In sport, you have to accept that. It’s like they are ashamed to be fair”. The Arsenal Manager concluded as he left the Manchester United grounds for London to start preparing for next season.
For some days now, I have been trying desperately to conjure spiritual powers that will enable me to communicate with the Roman gods; I wanted to find out if the gods have decided who will be taking the trophy from the Eternal City tonight. I almost made contact with Jupiter, the King of them all, but somehow, they discovered that I was a Liverpool supporter, so they broke all contact before I could reach them …
With Sir Alex Ferguson admitting that there is very little to separate Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the big question now is; can Manchester United equal the record of AC Milan to win the European Cup in consecutive seasons?
Well, I am not knowledgeable enough to predict the outcome for tonight, and I have not been able to make any contact with the gods of Rome … but we all know there will be so much quality on the pitch. It is the world’s best team of last year-winners of the European Cup, the World Club Cup and the English Premier League-against the side that many consider the world’s best this year.
Meanwhile, back in London, a new crisis is brewing over pay for footballers in the Premier League following recent changes in British tax laws.
According to the Arsenal Football Club, one of their players, Andrey Arshavin, has demanded a renegotiation of his contract after being “unpleasantly surprised” at his income tax bills which in his native Russia were only 13 percent.
Football insiders have warned that the move by the Arsenal player is expected to lead to a wave of similar claims by other top players in the English Premier League. The new British High tax rate of 50p is a big issue amongst top earners including my poor self and it is in danger of driving away many people overseas.
“What we are afraid of is top players like Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, or even Wayne Rooney and Robinho going to Europe to enjoy lower tax rates”, a Premier League spokesman told me the other night over the telephone.
My Accountant has told me that Cristinao Ronaldo of Manchester United – who earns a reputed £125,000-a-week- would face an increase of about £670,000 a year in his tax bill under the new rate of 50p in the pound. Others who would be affected include Chelsea Frank Lampard, who earns £140,000 a week, his team-mate, John Terry (£135,000) and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (£115,000) per week.
Old Boy, I am in the wrong job, so just in case you do not hear from me next week, I will be in the gym trying to lose weight so that I can go and help Alan Shearer bring Newcastle United back to the Premier League next year … I will be negotiating for just £100,000 per week, what do you think, good idea or bad for my health?
Finally, I hope you will enjoy the game tonight and may the best team win. The European Cup will go to the team that entertain us with beautiful football tonight-championship belongs to great footballers-just as houses belong to those who live in them and not to the builders….
O bella, ciao! bella, ciao! bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
O partigiano, portami via
Che’ mi sento di morir
Someone will be singing this song tonight, trust me.
Winston Ojukutu-Macaulay Jnr