Read Part I here.
Wasn't that long ago that the rumours told us that Bale was Birmingham/Forest bound. For about £3M. I'd rather have him bound to my bed, with me throwing rose petals over his lush bronzed body. I'm not that way inclined, I promise, but I'm willing to bestow this young Welsh stud with my undying love. Whether he wants it or not.
I heart you Gareth. We all do.
The baiting world expected more humiliation but the side attempted to reclaim some of that hurting pride. I wont dwell on other individuals. I'll let the gaffer re-watch and make notes and spit home truths in their faces in terms of lack of organisation and communication and leadership and other fundamentals. Eye of the tiger next time please. Okay, I'll say one word. Gallas. There, said it.
I'll also give a special mention to Jenas (J-E-N-A-S) and Lennon. JJ for improving in the second half, although that wasn't tricky considering his first half performance. Lennon for making things happen. Jenas was also instrumental in the goals. Ooh. Shocker. Hate on him if you dare. What's that? The first half? Oh yeah...sigh.
Keane, BAE, Captain Hudd, Hutton, Gallas, etc etc - is it worth commenting? Of course not. Mark them out of 10, between 2 and 5.
But it's all about the one man for me. But yes, well done to the collective for keeping a clean sheet as a unit, one that resembled a team, and never giving up in the quest for redemption.
Back to Bale.
1 - 50 yard storming run. He would have smashed through Gandalf had he been standing in the Inter penalty area with staff. Brilliant angled effort, tucked into the right-hand corner of the net.
2 - Practically identical to the first, same pulsating run into the box, same corner.
3 - Excellent run from the excellent Lennon, laying the ball off, arguably almost selling Bale short, and yet…smack, that same ruined abused corner, once more.
Pick'em out the back of the net Julio 'best keeper in the world' Cesar.
Okay, so the final two goals came in the final two minutes, but we've been here before haven't we? 4-3 is infinitely better than 4-0 or worse. It’s a 1-0 loss in terms of goal difference. With ten men, ffs. And qualification is not beyond the realms of impossibility, in fact, it’s in our hands.
Suddenly it's not so bad. Sure, we've glossed over problems what with Bale Bale Bale getting all the acclaim for such a determined, willing, simply refusing to roll over and die performance, but why not? We played into their hands and then we dug deep and clawed our way back into it. Another minute of injury time and Bale probably would have notched a fourth. He was that imperious to his surroundings.
Majestic, beastly, marauding, locomotive….Bale. He has completely turned his world and ours upside down. Who needs a striker when we've got this extraordinary machine?
Well actually, we could do with a striker. One that scores. Because if you add that to this team, get vdV back in there, stick with eleven men on the pitch and organise the defence to an advanced level of competency…ah, let's not tease. Let's just cross those fingers that this club of ours never fails to stop entertaining us. Even if it's the type of entertainment that involves Hannibal Lector removing parts of your brain and eating them in front of you.
4-3. Almost, but not quite. And not wholly acceptable but in terms of being able to show my face at work? Great.
Hat-trick. Away to Inter. Four goals and seven assists (correct me if my numbers are wrong) overall. And all this without King, Dawson, Defoe and van der Vaart. You could even throw Woodgate in there. And Modric didn’t play a part after the red card.
This bi-polar club of ours with it's inherent twitches and panic attacks.
Rather than remain spanked, we learnt our lesson and reacted to it there and then. And thus avoided that potentially damaging hangover (although quite how we've been pencilled in for an early Saturday kick-off is beyond me).
It's an adventure. We're never going to win it and in terms of edge of seat football, we are making our mark in Europe. It's all very refreshing, so I'm told.
When the ps3 over-heated and I was unstrapped from my chair, I knew, deep down, that if we iron out the reoccurring problems and tweak mental strength along with backbone set-up (moon on a stick) - we are not far off. Not far off from more balanced and consistent swagger than the schizophrenic screams. Would also help in abundance if Hutton understood the concept of positioning.
Third best defensive record domestically, but much more is needed on this particular level to survive and bully our way to a respectable stature in this playground of giants. We don't do badly all things considering, what with our musical chairs at the back. But it's got to be tight(er) at the back. Chastity belt tight.
We have enough about us to avoid collapse in the manner we did, even though we've now experienced three variants of said collapse on our travels. Perhaps it is just a learning curve.
I'd say plenty of it is about intensity. It will come in time. Gritted leadership and intensity, it will come in the form of vdV. And hopefully some of our other players grow into brave and bold men who do not welcome fear. Having van der Vaart - a genuine world class player - is something we should embrace.
Roll on the return leg.
In the mean time, don't fret about the live brokering of Gareth by ITV who seemed obsessed with selling him on before their coverage ended.
He's not world class yet. He has world class performances in him. And United fans can pretend he's going to sign for them with the loose change they have left over from plucking Modric and vdV up to Old Trafford.
He's our left-wing. And let us rejoice in the fact that he should now never frequent the left-back position again.
Just enjoy it. This, this beautiful defeat. Not quite worthy of a dvd as a whole, but the hat-trick is more than worthy of countless repeated You Tube play-back.
My special chair is back in the basement. I'm cleansed, like clockwork. Not orange. Just lilywhite.
Two weeks before I strap myself back in.