Rivalry and what it brings out of people is a huge part of the popularity of sports and especially football, but the Real Madrid clash with Manchester United didn’t fully deliver because of the sudden love and admiration between Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo, taking the edge off of things.
Luckily, for those seeking a bit more drama flavor to their excellent football (and the second leg was a fantastic football match), there was the Nani red card that seemed to change the moods and the atmosphere of the match. But no. Mourinho and Alex Ferguson simply discussed things, while Ferguson refrained from saying anything after the match that would have caused headlines.
Mourinho? He respected Ferguson’s decision to not start with Wayne Rooney. He didn’t say nothing with his famous sarcasm or venom, and went on about his business like this was just another regular win for him. Very different from that night nine years ago, when Porto knocked United out of the Champions League in dramatic fashion, and Mourinho went on to celebrate on the pitch; very different than his reactions at the Camp Nou and the Santiago Benrabeu last week against Barcelona.
And Cristiano Ronaldo continued a worrying trend in European football – not celebrating against one’s former team. I don’t know who started it, but I’m getting sick of players embracing it. I don’t know who has pure motives and who doesn’t, but I’m pretty sure quite a few players are doing it just because it’s the “trendy” thing to do.
Me? I prefer my players firing up opposing fans by celebrating in front of the home fans. The best atmospheres aren’t created by love and friendship; they need a trigger, a bad moment to unite people. The red card for Nani brought out volumes from the Manchester United fans that Old Trafford visitors rarely get to experience. Ronaldo celebrating in front of them might have been an extra push.
At least till next season, we won’t have to hear about how much Ferguson appreciated Ronaldo, or how much Jose Mourinho likes Alex Ferguson and the other way around. Maybe in the summer time, when the transfer rumors come flying again, with both Mourinho and Ronaldo being the objects of the stories, we’ll get a little dose. Other than that, it probably depends where Mourinho lands. If he manages in the Premier League again, be sure to hear the claws come out when the meetings between the two managers become more frequent.