Cort McMurray looks for some positives from Tuesday's result.
“Clockwise” is a minor John Cleese classic, a cinematic study of a man named Brian Stimpson who, through a series of small misjudgments, sees his moment of triumph dissolve into chaos. At his lowest, sprawled on a country lane and dressed for reasons too complicated to explain here in a stolen monk’s cassock, Stimpson exclaims, “It’s not the despair…I can stand the despair. It’s the Hope!”
Today, I embrace my inner Brian Stimpson.
|"yes yes the tackle was late, I know"|
The despair is easy. Same Old City. Shackled to a Small Club Mentality, they had their Big Moment, and self-destructed. And their True Colors showed after the match, when The Engineer turned into The Whinger. Did you really expect anything more from this bunch of Hessians, this cadre of well-compensated mercenaries, this public relations tool of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi?
I don’t buy it. I will not slip into the sticky sweet poison of such negativity. The way I see it, we’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em. I believe that with all my heart. And that’s the agony of being a City supporter: it’s not that’s I’ve given up; it’s that I still hope.
Without our best striker and with a back line that has been suspect all season, Barcelona required a penalty, a forty minute man advantage and some seriously suspect refereeing to manage a victory. When the clubs meet again, Kun will be healthy, which will completely change the way Pellegrini manages the match. And the defense? Somehow, someway, Pellegrini will sort things.
Speaking of Pellegrini, his post-match comments were not the unseemly ravings of a man out of his depth; they were part of brilliant strategy to preserve his squad’s focus and self-confidence. Had Pellegrini meekly embraced the popular cant – Demechelis had no business on the pitch; YaYa was too passive; Barca is a Big Club, and City is a mere pretender – or worse yet, said nothing at all, his players would have headed to the Camp Nou with all the sunny optimism of an out of favor member of the North Korean ruling family.
Like any good engineer, our Chilean mastermind crafted a simple, elegant response to a vexing problem. His message to a reeling squad: “It’s not your fault. This was a fluke. These Catalan guys are beatable. Beatable? They needed referee collusion and a man advantage to hold their own with you!” City will head to Barcelona with confident hearts and minds bent on revenge. Camp Nou’s considerable mystique will not overawe a club convinced that they were robbed in their own stadium. Emboldened by their manager’s confidence, bolstered by the return of their leading goal scorer, what else can City do but rattle off a 3 – nil victory in Barcelona? It’s a done deal, un fait accompli, as they say.
Hope. It is a terrible thing.