Bayern summoned to the court of Dunphy: their chief crime – not being Barcelona
The Bayern Munich players celebrate after Saturday night’s victory in the Uefa Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. Liam Brady had forecast a few months ago Bayern would emerge victorious. Photograph: Getty Images
It was after Magician gave Aidan O’Brien yet another victory in the 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday that Ted Walsh noted “Coolmore have the game by the short and curlies, completely”.
It was a fair enough assessment, really, and you wondered later in the day if the same could be applied to Germany’s grip on European club football, in light of the Champions League ding-dong at Wembley. “German football is bombing at the moment,” Graeme Souness purred on Sky after the game, which he actually meant as a good thing, although it left Jeff Stelling looking pale, Michael Ballack stoic, and Jamie Redknapp nodding. As the caption under Graeme’s name suggested, he knows a thing or two about triumphing at this level: “Won European Cup with Liverpool in 1978, 1981, 1984.” The caption under Jamie’s name? “Top Geezer.” No, not true – it was just left blank.
The consensus on Sky and ITV was, give or take a minor grumble, that the final had been rather tasty; “fantastic”, Roy Keane even declared, almost breaking in to a beam; “what an ad for German football, one of the greatest finals,” said Souness.
Eamon Dunphy was having none of it. “German football is weak,” he concluded, which might have drawn a ‘huh?’ from folk in Madrid and Barcelona, still patching up their wounds after their combined 11-3 aggregate semi-final setbacks against Bayern and Dortmund.
“Bayern are overrated, over-hyped . . . they stumbled over the line . . . they are not quality winners of this tournament . . . they haven’t removed the doubts, they ran in to a shambolic defence . . . Muller was stumbling about the place like a donkey . . . ” And so on.
Liam Brady didn’t know where to start, but if he was a lesser man he might have been unkind enough to remind his colleague of his declaration a few months back, after Brady had forecast Bayern would emerge victorious, that there’d be a job going for him in TV3. How he resisted whipping out his mobile and calling Dunphy a taxi, we’ll never know.
Back on Sky, Jamie was hailing the fact that Bayern’s line-up was largely German (if you didn’t count the Brazilian, the French man, the Austrian, the Spaniard, the Dutch man and the Croat), contrasting that with the state of English football where so many non-natives pack their teams. Graeme, for once, couldn’t disagree, bemoaning the arrival of so many “Johnny Foreigners” in the English game, the stoicism of Ballack (Chelsea 2006– 2010) showing no sign of breaking.
Over to RTÉ again and Eamon was still refusing to forgive Bayern for not being Barcelona, but conceded that it wasn’t entirely their fault because there are “so few outstanding players in the game today”.
“There are no Rory McIlroys bursting through in soccer,” he said, at which point Brady unhelpfully pointed out he had just missed the cut at Wentworth. Dunphy, undeterred, warned us that, for example, Brazil’s World Cup hosting team next year would be brutal. “David Luiz, Dante, Robinho, guys like that,” he said, although he should be reassured by the fact that Robinho hasn’t been selected for two years.
Back to Sky again and Jamie was pondering the future of Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes: “At 67 you don’t have to do the math to find out he’s not going to be here forever.” By now Ballack’s stoicism was showing a sign or two of breaking.
Over to ITV. “One of the European superpowers is a power in the game again, jawohl!,” Clive Tyldesley emoted, stopping just short, you feared, of adding “Achtung baby!”
Anyway, a highly enjoyable ding-dong, and come the end of the proceedings, all you could conclude was that German football had some of our pundits by the short and curlies.