Just like every other Manchester United fan, that night in Barcelona 10 years ago when the fabulous treble was completed remains ingrained in my mind as the greatest football event of my life.
It was 6.30 in the morning here in Australia, my screams of delight woke up my household and possibly half our neighborhood as Ole Gunnar Solskjær put an end to 90 minutes of torture during which I had to my eternal shame given up all hope of victory.
I should have known much better! This was Manchester United.
A bottle of scotch was cracked open for breakfast, going to work was never an option and the celebrations went on all day. It all seems like yesterday!
A nagging thought has however bothered me ever since. How can a club win The European Champions League when they were not their nations reigning champions at the time that they were labelled as such?
It’s interesting to note that since then, six of the twelve Champions League Winners were not champions at all but mere runners up or even worse. Something simply does not compute.
Remember that Manchester United 1999, Real Madrid 2000, AC Milan 2003, Liverpool 2005, AC Milan 2007 and Barcelona 2009 were NOT champions at all when they were declared as “European Champions League” winners in those years!
Think about it, this competition is not even a league. It’s based on the precise same formula as the World Cup Finals with eight groups of four competing for the top two spots in order to progress to the knock out stage. The only difference is that the groups in the Champions League are played on a home and away basis. Has anyone ever made any reference to the World Cup League? Of course not, it’s simply the FIFA World Cup.
Am I being pedantic? Yes I am. It will take very little effort to correct this anomoly because there are two very simple choices available.
The competition can either be renamed the EUFA League, The European Union Cup or something similar. If it must remain as the European Champions League however, go back to the days of years gone by when ONLY national CHAMPIONS, true champions, are allowed to compete for it.
Surely, for the sake of “Truth Be Told” it cannot be both. I really don’t care either way but for the sake of credibility, it must be one or the other.
Is that too simple a solution? Hmmm, I wonder!