A lot has happened in the last six weeks. R.E.M. decided to split up, nurse a NASA satellite fell from space and didn’t hit anyone and Steve Jobs and Muammar Gaddafi died, health allbeit in slightly different circumstances. And a Rugby World Cup took place in New Zealand, viagra which briefly reduced this country to the madness of getting up at 5.30am to watch a sporting event. Sunday brought about the eventual climax to this seemingly never-ending tournament and it was a thoroughly satisfactory one. It was a particularly good evening for the people of New Zealand, but also a good start to the morning for us, the people of Ireland.
Firstly, we were saved from Neil Francis’s bet in the Sunday Independent that he would strip naked and go down the Liffey on a dinghy makes noises of a sea lion whilst people threw fish (and other far less pleasant things) at him should the final be a try-fest. It wasn’t, and he didn’t. Then at about 8.35am, an actual sea lion disguised as a rugby pundit and radio presenter from Cork announced to the nation that this would be his last World Cup final. George Hook would be no more. His waffling, outlandish, bafflingly pronouncements have only been even more tiring over the last six week. He shall not be missed.
The match itself was a bit of an odd one. With the score at 8-7 and with thirty minutes remaining, it would have been hard to see this time as a scoreless one and for it to be one of the tensest thirty minutes of rugby one could ever watch. France, as they do, showed up to the tournament about five weeks late, but suddenly their run to the final looked to have been a lesson in timing. Who cares if they got hockeyed against the All Blacks in the pool stages, and also suffered their most embarrassing defeat in, well, about seven months against Tonga. They should have won the World Cup final. There’s a lovely bit of irony in this as perhaps the only match they deserved to win in this tournament was a match they actually lost. New Zealand probably deserve their win, however, it is hard to get that irking feeling (that we also had four years ago) that their path to the final was a favourable one.
Of course, as this match wasn’t on Sky Sports, it wasn’t the biggest sporting event that day. This was going to be the biggest Manchester derby EVER! Or at least since the last time they played, when I’m sure it probably had that title too. In fairness to the people of Sky though, this Manchester derby was certainly a unique one. United have had significant defeats in which they’ve been completely outclassed over the last few years, namely against Barcelona in two Champions League finals and Chelsea at the start of the Abramovich era. But none have been as humiliating, or perhaps as important as this one. This was Fergie’s darkest day by some way. Indeed, the only other scoreline which I could remember being as shocking as this was the 6-3 away defeat to Southampton in the 96/97 season.
The most significant thing we’ve learnt from yesterday’s match is that the third financial revolution of the premier league is near completion. The first belonged to United themselves as in the nineties and early noughties, they dealt with the various challenges of Arsenal, Blackburn and Newcastle by throwing more big money players into their team. Then the Russians came and Chelski was born. However, this revolution was soon stopped as United began matching Chelski’s ludicrous sums of money. However, this latest revolution is surely a revolution with sums of money which United cannot match. City seemingly have a infinite amount of financial resources at their hand, whereas United must resist the temptation to try and match this due to the astronomical debt they currently have. The Blue Moon may be rising, but it’s hardly something to celebrate.