Cup Final Comedown

May 20 2007

A fitting first Cup Final goal at the new WembleyAt times like this – when your team has just lost a Cup final that had been hyped to the hilt like no other – it’s hard to be objective. But with the benefit of a few hours’ hindsight, things don’t look too bad.

It was a dour game. Both teams were tired, and the heaviness of the pitch didn’t help. Ronaldo was a disappointment. But Scholes’s passing and Giggs’s industry and Rooney’s sheer determination made up for that. And if you are going to lose a Cup final to your biggest rival, you might as well lose it to a goal of real quality.

It would be churlish to say that Chelsea didn’t deserve it. They had the best of the first half, United the best of the second. Extra time ebbed and flowed. It doesn’t matter who deserved it. All that matters is who wins, and football would not generate the endless discussion it does if the team with the most shots on target/larger share of possession/most impressive Opta stats always won.

United fans wouldn’t swap the Premiership for the Cup. But losing the Cup still hurts. And losing it means that a season that has scaled such glorious heights now ends on a low. The stakes for next season have just been raised.

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