Friday, 17 December 2010
It's honestly not that bad.
I refer, of course, to the fact that we've just drawn AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League. The worst tie we could have got by some distance.
But also, and again by some distance, the best.
It's the best because the Champions League is, or should be, all about playing AC Milan. It's going to be brilliant.
We'll lose, obviously, but as long as we don't get properly hammered (which could happen), that's fine too.
You see, this cheery tone isn't because I think we can win. Of course we won't win.
No, it's because, as with all knockout competitions, the Champions League is about managing your exit. Now, that sounds like something that might involve Anusol, but it's actually a sound cup strategy for all teams that aren't going to win the thing - and, in this case, that's very much us.
It we'd got our 'dream' tie against Copenhagen then one of two things could have happened:
1) We go out to Copenhagen. That means that all last year's league achievements and this season's amazing group stage campaign, even that daft yo-yo preliminary against those pesky Young Boys, would have been building towards, essentially, humiliation.
2) We go through. And then what? We we draw Chelsea (or Arsenal, if they out pitty-pat Barcelona) and they knock us out in a tie that immediately becomes part of history (ours and theirs).
This way, in terms of progress, we've done as much as was expected of us, but with more goals, elan and drama than anyone could have hoped for. Then we get knocked out by a properly aristocratic European team. We may even lose heroically!
It's a win-win scenario, by which, clearly, I mean lose-win.