Tuesday, October 29, 2013

HELL IS ALONE



Cort McMurray gets to grips with what it must really be like out there on the pitch all on your own, with everyone staring at you, with people waiting for you to drop a clanger....

Nothing is worse than being a goalkeeper.


TS Eliot writes, “What is Hell?  
Hell is oneself. 
Hell is alone, the other people in it merely projections.”  
TS Eliot understood goalkeepers.  

In every way, the keeper is kept in a grassy rectangular Hell: he spends most of every match alone, watching while other men sweat and struggle and strive, his heartbeat rising with each thundering foray past midfield, and falling as the anticipated onslaught fizzles. In a maddening instant, he is In The Thick of It, expected to contort himself at impossible angles, with superhuman speed, not so much to ensure Victory, as to forestall Defeat.  When he fails and the ball ends in his net, it’s the goalkeeper on his back, or face down in the mud, or tangled up in the netting like some unfortunate sea turtle, silently watching the victors cavort like Jacobins at a guillotining.  His teammates abandon him, drifting toward midfield, heads down, hands on hips, where they practice looking solemn and silently plot marketing strategy for the launch of their new line of men's casual fashions.  

The goalkeeper is a stranger, an Other. He doesn’t even wear the uniform of his teammates, dressing instead in some garish contrasting color that makes him stick out like a poisonous South African tree frog, the bright markings telling the rest of the world, “Stay back.  You don’t want any part of this.”

It is no way to live.  We are born to be free, to run, to kick, to score, and if not to score, to feel the deeply satisfying whoosh of air and the low, almost reverent murmur of the crowd as we put a well-placed shoulder to some high flyer’s chest, leaving him flattened and twitching. There is something deep within us that yearns for the approbation of the throngs upon the terraces.  We want their admiration, or at least their fear.  We want run to the stands, arms outstretched in blessing and expiation, and feel the adoration, to know a little of what it’s like to be Omnipotent.  Gods are creators and destroyers; they aren’t deflectors.  

Strikers are gods. Remorseless holding midfielders are no worse than Avenging Angels, terrifying and awe-inspiring.  Keepers are more accountants or air traffic controllers, one lapse in judgment away from ruining everything.

So if your dreams are haunted by the sight of poor Joe Hart, a helpless half-mile out of position as snakebit Fernando Torres for once had something go his way, if you feel the sick burbling at the back of your throat remembering Mr. Mourinho, working the Stamford Bridge crowd like Eva Peron on an sugar high, buck up.  It’s a long season.  Norwich is coming.  Our Joe will crawl back down into that maddening solitary pit, and he will stretch and bend and do something more amazing than our dulled brains can process, saving the day so we can cheer Kun or David or Edin for leading us to triumph.

Or he could drag us all to Hell with him.  This is City, after all…       


You can follow Cort on Twitter here

Monday, October 28, 2013

GLOVE STORY

40 years ago Manchester City embarked on a season that would see them use three different goalkeepers and, at one time or another, each one would be pilloried by the press and/or by the supporters. First Joe Corrigan, then Ron Healey and finally Keith MacRae would attempt to stem the flow of goals being shipped at the wrong end by City that unstable year.

Healey quickly disappeared into the nether regions of a low profile career at Cardiff, whilst MacRae eventually drifted to the other side of the Atlantic to escape his detractors. Corrigan, however, fought back. The big man had been horribly overweight - he was of naturally heavy build, usually clocking an average weight of around 14 and a half stone - and seemed to put on excess weight with some ease. In those early days of season 1973-74, he looked cumbersome and ungainly, neither a trademark any top class keeper would attach himself to willingly.

Eventually the fans got on his back. He made more mistakes and the vicious circle was complete when he was dropped to the reserves, where he broke his jaw in one of his matches. From this miserable position, looking up at his new rivals from between long blades of grass, Corrigan had an important decision to make. Only with the will power of the semi-demented does one come back from the edge of the precipice and find your niche once more. Only with the mind cleared and your priorities reordered does it become clear what is to be done.

Corrigan had been around at City for several seasons before this dramatic fall off in his form occurred. In fact he had already completed four seasons of more than 30 appearances each and was well beyond 120 City appearances when this slide in form began. Corrigan had had dips in his career before, famously letting in a goal from Ronnie Boyce on a mud pudding pitch at Maine Road, when slowly returning from making a lazy, low-slung clearance, only to find Boyce had whipped the ball back full on the volley and into the City goal.



The goal was the sort of thing Corrigan was beginning to make his name for, although that Maine Road pitch - part pantanal swamp, part trifle - would have been the death of many a good keeper. It was around this time that Corrigan admitted he dreaded playing at Maine Road in front of the critical noises and audible whistling. There were even rumours that he might retire, but the big man battled on, blocked out the catcalls, recovered from his injury and set about reclaiming his place in the City first team.

MacRae, bought from Motherwell for a then record fee for a goalkeeper (£100,000....) did not start well at City, making a blunder on his debut at Sheffield United. Although he kept his place and would play in a League Cup Final against Wolves that first season, MacRae was injured the following year and a new look Corrigan - slimmer thanks to the wired jaw and hungry for first team action - stepped back into the spotlight to claim his place.

ZERO TO HERO

Joe Corrigan played a total of 592 games for Manchester City, was voted man of the match in the Centenary Cup Final v Tottenham, went on to play for England at a time when the national team already had Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence and in 2004 was deservedly inducted into the Manchester City Hall of Fame. From the abject mud-spattered anti-hero seen in the video above, Corrigan turned himself into a goalkeeping giant capable of saves like the one below, made at Leeds in the 5th round of the FA Cup in 1977.




Joe Hart may never know what it feels like to be as low as Joe Corrigan was in 1974. A young man to whom the game's riches and good fortune have fallen easily and early, Hart is already England's number one and the holder of various baubles to attest to his position at the back of the team that won the 2011-12 Premier League, amongst other things. 

Hart's fame and agility have brought him in a few short years what Joe Corrigan fought an entire career's length to get close to. And it is perhaps here that the Joe Hart story is threatening to go in an unscripted direction. Public life is littered with examples of those to whom life's good times came too early. How these young stars - whatever their field of excellence may be - handle this unwieldy situation is critical. Let it go to your head - as many have said Hart has done - and you will find yourself on the slippery slope. Let it consume you and the same may happen. Allow it to teach you and continue to challenge you, allow it to make you grow in stature whilst remaining humble and aware of the pitfalls, and you will survive to display your skills at the highest altar.

For Joe Hart, the critical moment of choices is fast approaching. He may share a name with Corrigan, but only time will tell if he shares his destiny too.


You can read a match by match account of the 1973-74 season at City, including Joe Corrigan's fight for the green number one jersey here 



Monday, October 21, 2013

THE CONDENSED READ: WEST HAM away

Tiny darting poets in football boots put Bubbles Eleven to the sword. 

We never win away.

Sam Allardyce a placid bull who has just seen a large insect fly fast and straight up his massive wet hooter; Alvaro Negredo a raging bull going for a brisk trot through a field of daisies. His shot to the bar a piece of venomous beauty that goes unrewarded. Bu there will be reward in another world.


Silva, Fernandinho dance the foxtrot, but way too fast for Messrs Nolan and Noble, the Haircut Brothers. Home defenders manage same level of intimacy with City's pacy, elusive strikers as this correspondent has with Natalie Portman. Chase chase chase and end up panting.

Aleksander Kolarov strutting around like Field Marshall Josep Tito in one of his most coherent periods. I shall go to High Society Plzen to be with Liza Spuner and to see Manchester City in the Champions League!

All around tiny darting poets. They are speaking softly to us in rhyme and verse. Believe in us, they whisper, for there is magic in the air.

We sometimes win away.

For what really happened (almost) read on here   


Links and tributes: 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

MORRISSEY: THE LOST EXTRACTS

But for a father's whim, young Steven could have been a Blue

On Childhood heroes....
"It had been insufferably warm. The flow of sweat I could feel dribbling in rivulets down the arc of my spine. My father had taken me along to Maine Road, that ancestral edifice of my childhood dreams, a place held together by shirt-drenching shrieks and own goal heartbreak. We drifted up those relentless stairs and into a tunnel as dark as it was dank and, as I emerged into the harsh sunlight and clapped eyes on the unmistakeable figure of Barney Daniels, doing a stunningly lop-sided version of keepy uppy, I fainted...."

On youthful exuberance....
"It was in the late seventies that I began to frequent the Kafkaesque drinking dens of Rusholme. One night, as misty as it was putrid, I was relaxing alone in the City Social Club, sipping non-alcoholic creme de menthe and acting enthused about Colin Viljoen when a dark figure walked in. His muscular build, framed in the craggy doorway, fair left the room without light. I was momentarily stunned by the weight of his presence. Taking another sip to steady myself, I became woosy, the air clinging at my shirt and tightening in my young lungs. I felt cold and clammy. "Ahoy there...," the figure carped. "I am hated for loving and I am haunted for wanting, but at least I'm here!" I squinted through the half light at this intimidating giant and felt the earth shift gently beneath my feet ..."  It was Bernard Halford with our tickets for the League Cup tie at Chesterfield.

On noble beasts....
"They are no more these great noble beasts of the dark continent. Soon we will only see Rhinos with their small tales and batty eyes, in Whipsnade Safari Park. An overwhelming loss of words hits me and I find myself momentarily catching my breath. No snakes in the jungle, no brave polar bears on the wafer ice sheet. My heart beats for these noble beasts big and small. And it's not because of global warming or shrinking habitats. It's Steven Ireland and his snakeskin stack-heel creepers...."

On meat is murder....
"We were all there. Mikey, Reve, Johnny, The Florist, Big Kev and Shades. We all, in varying states of ignoble quiffishness. Gitanes with Baileys and Vimto at the ready in small plastic cups with our names written roughly on the sides, like a bunch of gypsy kids waiting for the charabanc to set off. The air was wet and heavy, the wind carrying in riplets of rough shouting from a distant alley. Karma Chameleon or some such drastic, mind-numbing dross. Then it hit us. I was the first. An acrid pall of smoke, the deathly mist of burning bodies. I turned half gagging and shouted as hard as my voice would carry, "I hope it is humans you are cooking on your death grill, your hell's kitchen!!! Or better still, the Prince of Wales and his fat-buttocked imperial offspring!!!". As it turned out, it was Jimmy with his hamburger trolley, peddling disease and nausea to the denizons of Moss Side. I took up the guitar immediately, driven on by a thirst for the untenable, but was taken ill before I could strum a good note...."

On hero worship....
"Here I am, Steven Patrick Morrisey, of noble heart and medium build. I am but a young man, but today I feel the years of old Albion across my poor tired shoulders. Picking up a copy of Time Out magazine before our soundcheck, I was surprised to see they had quoted me in full. Must have been short of copy. At least the dear boy who they had sent to interview us had got his zeds arranged correctly. All I had said to the lad, who resembled a startled young ferret on a bromide diet, was that "I am deeply fond of Jimmy Frizzell as long as he doesn't open his mouth."

On tank tops....
It had been a good gig. Most of the boys were happy with what had transpired. Mike thought the
Reeves: maroon tank top
drums a bit tight and I had had to suffer some idiot transgender throwing daffodils at me throughout, but the gig was done and the clamour was mercifully dying away like the waves on Southport seafront. I sat down and poured a britvic orange and alkaseltzer and waited. The tension of a moment that should only have brought release and freedom from fear. The door slid open and in walked Kevin Reeves in a maroon tank top and slightly scuffed brown office shoes. "To me you are a work of art," I shouted through the cigarette haze, "and I'd give you my heart if only I had one.". If it hadn't been for the toe ends of Johnny Marr's winkle pickers, upon which my glistening hero stepped, to the mirth of all around, I would surely have been in a dishevelled heap on the cracked wood floor that raging night...." 

On Bobby McDonald....
As I looked at the prone body, hooked but flat on the wet crimson gravel, chest pumping in and out in and out, as if the very lifeblood of it was heaving itself out from between those bent shoulders, one eye, muddied and strange, opened and looked at me. I smiled, for it was the unmistakable face of Bobby Mac. "Artists are not real, as you are not," I said. "They are 40% papier maché and in your case possibly quite a lot more.".






Wednesday, October 2, 2013

THE BAYERN WE LOVED, THE CUP WE CARED FOR

An everyday footballer scene
Between 1974 and 1976 Bayern Munich won the European Cup, that useless stupidly formulated all knock-out competition for champions only that ran sometime in the grey days before close form European sparring was reinvented by Gianni Infantino with his magnetised balls and multicoloured waistcoat.

These were dark days indeed, when misfits and scallywags like St Etienne, Dynamo Tbilisi and Feyenoord could be seen strutting about European football like they owned the damn place.

Your Kievs and Magdeburgs, your Colognes (or worse still your Kölns) and Gothenburgs (or Göteborgs) even your bloody Dundee Uniteds, strolled this odd planet playing football and keeping up with the Joneses, Schmidts and Bertillons. God love us, even dear old East Midlands rivals Derby County and Nottingham Forest strutted their stuff against such luminaries as Dynamo Berlin, AEK Athens, Slovan Bratislava and other souls so lost these days, they might as well not even exist.

Thankfully all of that has been stamped out now and we can bask in Bayern v Real every single season, Chelsea v Barcelona every single season and pretend to be happy for FC Gloria Estefzvan when they qualify by mistake and then get absolutely murdered by European stalwarts Porto, Real and Juve. Poor old FC Gloria getting a good seeing to, but at least the prize money will be enough to help them dominate their domestic league back in Bulvakia and they will be back for more of the same next year.

But wait, deep down we're liking Mr Infantino's work, aren't t we? The music that makes your hair stand on end. The marvellous flash redecorating that goes on overnight in all the stadiums to rid the place of all that unnecessary local advertising: Bert Fink's Fish and Chips and Lower Sodbury Hillman Imp Spare Parts. Mastercard that little lot out of the way, we're coming through with the blue paint brushes and the illuminated football stickers.

Still, to City fans, brought up on a solid Euro buffet of jokes and disaster, of timid trips to Lokeren and the snow covered wastes of central Poland (yes, Groclin Dyskobolia, I am talking about you), the odd soft shoe shuffle with Real and Napoli, with Dortmund and Ajax, seems like Christmas has arrived and won't go away. It smells new, like a fresh pair of Danish espadrilles. It shines and it beckons us with its high hemline and heavy eye-shadow. Then it batters us over the head with its all-in travel packages, executive level seating and jumbo-priced Eurosnacks. Before you know it you're 3-2 down to Madrid and there's a twitchy copper looking at your forehead like he wants to practise tapping out some Flamenco on it.

Backed by the flags of Bredbury and Denton, you are beguiled by the foreign accents and the waft of strangely becoming pipe smoke. You take in the view through your giddy Estreladam beer spectacles and breathe in the elixir of the Champions League, the biggest ever thing to happen to you and your club, the all-inclusive place that makes you a little queasy at first, a little unsure whether to let yourself go completely and like it. Once you're in you're in, though, no questions asked.You'd better buy the travel package, the executive peanuts and belt up for the ride.

Maier: big gloves
Where were we? Ah yes. 1974. A time of strikes, brown tank tops and one dimensional damp half time snacks. Bayern, a young team of red clad physical specimens were about to spring a surprise and take over Ajax's great European mantle. The Dutch champions, led by the  irrepressible Cruyff and Neeskens and Krol, had been champions of Europe in 1971, 1972 and 1973, beating Panathinaikos, Inter and Juventus. This incredible feat was immediately equalled by imperious Bayern, knocking the stuffing out of Atletico Madrid in a replay and then getting a touch lucky against St Etienne and Leeds United (yes, the very same Leeds United that these days thinks Dave Hockaday a good and bright idea) in the next two finals. Leeds fans thought Bayern had got so lucky, in fact, that they dismantled the Parc des Princes in protest.

This week, my beloved Manchester City face these aristocrats of European football, these giants that have bestrode the continental game unchecked for 40-odd years.

Manchester City versus Bayern Munich.

On the same pitch.

Again.

Breitner: fuzzy
Let us be clear on what City face on Wednesday. Bayern Munich have won this thing more times than we have been in it. More times than some of us have had hot Zigeuner Schnitzel dinners in fact. So, here are some of those heroes in full glory. Look at them. Drink in their furrowed lines. Gaze into those eyes. Try, if you will, to copy their hair. For here is history. Here is where power shot out and grabbed what it wanted. The team that would "still be in that shed" but for Gerd Muller's glorious goals, according to Kaiser Franz.

SEPP MAIER, goalkeeper, joker, bandy-legged wearer of the biggest gloves ever seen in world football. The man was a legend between the sticks, with his toothy grin and his adhesive hands. We had never seen goalkeepers wearing gloves like him before. They were huge paddles and made him look like an alien with oar-ends sticking out of his nice Addidas top. Bayern wore the three stripes like princes. Nobody wore Adidas in English football. They looked like otherworldly knights come to dethrone us all whilst wearing top quality Teutonic sportswear.

PAUL BREITNER: Amazingly talented full back, who - but for the most ridiculous bush of hair sat atop his great communist/maoist bonce - would surely have been remembered as one of the very best. Smote long range winners like they were going out of fashion, quoted Mao in his spare time and fled to Madrid, where the white shirts of Real clashed terribly with his fuzzy barnet.

HANS GEORG SCWARZENBECK: The man with the extraordinary hooter never got the recognition he deserved, as the calm rock alongside Beckenbauer in the heart of the Bayern defence, stayig behind when Kaiser Franz went on one of his regular sorties. Schwarzenbeck played many years at Bayern and in the national team, winning the World Cup in 1974. Then it all went to his head and he opened a tobacconists instead.

FRANZ BECKENBAUER: Kaiser Franz, the ultimate template for the mobile, forward-moving centre half-cum-sweeper. Beckenbauer was quite unlike anything most people had seen at that stage of the 70s. His craft, like Bobby Moore, was to stay on his feet and steal the ball away. No need to tackle and slide, when timing will do it all for you. What made Beckenbauer different was his ability to then move upfield and not lose possession. A truly majestic sight going forward, he was one of the best footballers Germany has ever produced.Reinvented himself several times as a successful manager, administrator and UEFA Football Person.

Schwarzenbeck: unfeasibly long sideburns take attention from nose
Beckenbauer: adidas

GERD MULLER: Centre of gravity so low that even a Jack Russell could not have destabilised him. Muller's tree trunk thighs and eye for goal made him an unmovable object and an unreasonable force. 487 goals in 555 games. For West Germany, as they were then, more goals (68) than games (62), an unbelievable feat. Rightly nicknamed Der Bomber, Muller was so addicted to goals that retirement from football brought real problems for him and only the kindness of the club enabled him to fight off alcoholism and make a comeback to the football industry. Will always be the yardstick alongside which all modern scoring records are compared.

ULI HOENESS: Hoeness has the words Bayern Munich inscribed in his bone marrow. The attacking midfielder or left sided striker played in all three of Bayern's European Cup triumphs and was in the victorious 72 and 74 West Germany side that carried off the European Championship in Brussels and the World Cup in Munich, of all places. Hoeness will perhaps be better remembered for missing the
Hoeness scores against Atlético Madrid in the 1974 final
penalty that allowed Panenka to do an erm Panenka and win the 76 Euro final for Czechoslovakia, so he has several reasons to be put firmly in the European Hall of Fame. Later converted himself into a one club administrator at Bayern, like Beckenbauer and Rummineige, and has developed into one of the most outspoken brands of its kind in the modern game. Not clear whether he pays his taxes or not, but cannot be faulted for being the owner of a Nuremburg bratwurst factory.

FRANZ ROTH: One of the less celebrated members of the team but not in Munich, where his contribution to the cause is well remembered. Scored against Leeds in 75 and St Etienne in 76, as well as a goal against Rangers in the 67 Cup Winners Cup Final. A man for the big occasion.

KARL-HEINZ RUMMENIGGE: A name to strike fear into defenders and proof readers alike, it is often thought that Rummenigge was around later than this era, but he was present in both the 75 and 76 finals and became a Bayern legend over a 310 game career for die Roten.Another who could not resist the temptation to ascend those lushly carpeted steps up into the boardroom for a good argument over how football should be run in the modern age.
  







Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BAYERN MUNCHEN: WHAT TO EXPECT

Teams line up in Munich two years ago. Tevez is already sitting down.
ESPN's Bayern correspondent Susie Schaaf answers some questions before the big tie of Matchday Two in the Champions League that pits City against the European Champions at the Etihad.

1) Do Bayern see City as more of a threat than 2 years ago when we were supposed UCL rookies?

Though the talent level was certainly there two years ago for Manchester City, it is a brutal competition and tends to intimidate the newbies.  It is the Champions League theme song?  Is it the hyped-up atmosphere?  Is it mid-week matches all the time?  Who knows.  But, a lot of really good teams have fared less-than-spectacularly their first couple times out.

That being said, this match is the tie of the day Wednesday.  Bayern are certainly serious about beating this Manchester side.  And a City win over Bayern would go a long way in to quelling the doubts as to whether Manchester City is a true European side.


2) Do Bayern fans enjoy playing "new sides" in the UCL rather than the same old faces? This will be our 3rd and 4th meetings in 3 seasons. I guess Bayern are sick of the sight of certain other teams?!

I guess it's a pleasure to face new competition, but the true European histories are created by playing the same big squads over-and-over.  Those are the type of matches where legends are born, but one really does not want to face them in group competition.
3) Do Bayern fans feel any closer to particular clubs in England? If so, who? Any special relationships? You are sometimes called the Man Utd of Germany for example!!

Manchester United and Bayern Munich had a good relationship under Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure; lots of banter and healthy respect between the two sides.  And there are certainly some parallels between the two.  Both are the billion-dollar clubs of their respective countries that their fans love to love, and everyone else loves to hate. Here in the Unites States, I explain Bayern Munich as the New York Yankees of Germany.

Pretty much every Bayern supporter I know hates Chelsea-- for obvious reasons-- but a lot have started to follow Arsenal with their sudden influx of Germans over the last couple of seasons.  The Gunners are persuasive with Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Oezil, Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem all on their squad.

 But, personally, I've got a soft spot for Everton.

4)  How have Bayern fans taken to the change of stadium? City have also changed and atmosphere is sometimes a problem in these modern arenas. Also I was there for our last match and the Allianz is a LONG way from Munich in what seemed like a motorway intersection!! 
 
Allianz Arena: in a field, next to a motorway, half way to Ulm

While the Olympiastadion was steeped in tradition and history, it wasn't the best place to watch a football match!  Sight lines were off, and with the track present, you were acres away from the action. Unlike many English stadiums, the Germans still do get standing terraces-- even though this and last season has seen the Ultras there battle with the Bayern brass over pyrotechnics, who is allowed in there, etc.

The Allianz Arena will always come off quieter than most, in Germany, but that also has a lot to do with Munich's demographics.  It is the poshest city in the land.  But, the fans that make long journeys for matches are the ones that are the most vocal.

It is rather sardine-like getting to the arena and back out of it when you take the U6 (train) to the matches, but most Germans are typically stoic about it.  The only problem is, when there's a fight between two groups of supporters anywhere in the city, the trains shut down. Then it becomes a bit of a nightmare.


5) Maier, Breitner, Schwarzenbeck, Muller and Beckenbauer or the current crew?!

I wish I was old enough to understand, first-hand, the majesty of the fabulous mid-70's era Bayern Munich.  But I was very fortunate, growing up in Florida, to catch both Gerd Mueller and Franz Beckenbauer (oh, and George Best!) plying their trades in the late-70s NASL.  It's how a became a footie fan in the first place; my Bavarian family took care off the rest.


6) Was beating Dortmund at Wembley sufficient recompense for a home defeat in the final the year before?

Yes.  No.  Well, both, I suppose.  I went to the '10 final against Inter Milan in Madrid-- knowing Bayern would lose.  In '12 I had a choice to pick the semi-fnal versus Real Madrid or the final in Munich.  Looking now like a smart girl, I chose the semis.

The narrative for Bayern in 2013, after the previous season's loss to Chelsea, was a must-win situation for the Munich club-- lest they become the Buffalo Bills (they who got to the Super Bowl numerous times, but always lost) of European football.  So, I suppose, yes it was sufficient, but the loss to Chelsea still stings-- knowing Bayern had it in their hands.  Playing Chelsea in the Super Cup this year and eventually turning them over on penalties-- during a match that kind of went the same way as the '12 final-- helped ease the pain a little more.

7) Great European evenings/memories that stand out for you?

I mentioned them both in my last remark, but I was fortunate to have been in the Bernabeu for Bayern's penalty shoot-out against Real Madrid in 2012.  Shoot-out's are a nervy business, mind you, but when your team comes up on the right side of things?!  There's nothing like it in the world!  Bayern fans were blessed to having the penalties come straight at them-- and when Bastian Schweinsteiger shot the winner?  I promptly burst in to tears.  (I do that a lot.)

But, the penultimate was having a match ticket for the Wembley final in 2013.  As I write about German football in English, it was a lovely opportunity for me to connect with pretty
Remember the game? Blame this if you don't
much everyone else who does the same--  I had instant, great friends all over London!  But, while all of that city was falling in love with Dortmund's fairytale, Bayern Munich was all business.  I only slightly rued missed photo-ops, and whatnot, when I could see the determination and grit in the whole Bayern camp to see that one through.

In the stadium, listening to the whistles for Arjen Robben as he fluffed a couple tidy chances-- all I could think of was, "I hope he wins the whole damn thing for us."  And he did.  The most beautiful moment of football in my life.  (And, yes.  I bawled like a baby.  Everyone did.)


8) What will Bayern's shape be against City? Who will be the key figures?

By now, Pep Guardiola's revolutionary 4-1-4-1 line up won't be a surprise to anyone.  And with Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara out, it will be the predicted starting XI:  Neuer, Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Lahm; Robben, Kroos/Mueller, Schweinsteiger, Ribery; Mandzukic. 

But, that single pivot does not exactly play like one.  Pep's gotten wise to how vulnerable that leaves Bayern on the counter.  With Kroos and Schweinsteiger starting, the formation plays out like a 4-3-3.  But, with Mueller starting, it plays like a 4-2-3-1.

European Footballer of the Year, Franck Ribery, would be the most obvious key.  With five goals and three assists this season, and a left back partner in David Alaba, he terrorizes the left, drawing defenders in to double or triple coverage-- then, uh oh!-- Kroos or Schweinsteiger are left unmarked.


9) How is Pep shaping up? Is his German really any good?

Pep has just completed 100 days at Bayern Munich.  And, so far?  Not really that much to complain about.  Although I did, as most others did, for a fair share.  The merits of the new system are slowly paying dividends, and he's acquiesced to how the counter attack works against this team.  The players and front office love him...

...and yes, his German his remarkable considering he's only had a year at it.  It's definitely treacherous to master.  One only needs to look at Trappatoni's pressers when he was in charge at Bayern to see this is the case!  He will default to English or Spanish in training when he can't find the words to get his point across.


10) Do you think Bayern will play any differently for an away game at City to other UCL games or do they expect the opposition to worry more about them?
Not to be arrogant, but I think that sides will likely fear Bayern more than the other way around.  After all, the team just did come off a treble.  A win over City in the Eithad would be welcome, but I'm guessing that most City fans would see it differently if they were to overturn Bayern Munich, i.e., "We beat the treble winners!"
Whatever happens, it should be an entertaining (and hopefully frustrating for you lot) match. Heartily looking forward!  Auf geht's, Bayern!

Thank you for your time, Susie, and let's hope the Manchester United of Bavaria cope with City in the same way their English cousins did ten days ago. 
 You can follow Susie on Twitter here

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