I KNOW for neutrals (and many supporters to be fair) last Thursday’s match was akin to watching monotone PFA chairman Gordon Taylor (a man so boring he sent three accountants to sleep at an after-dinner engagement) explaining the offside rule, but as an exercise in European knock-out play it was exemplary.
It would have been even better if the bloke I’ve been championing – Ben Arfa – had taken his chance.
Everybody played a part, from the manager’s game plan to the performances themselves.
Obertan needed a shake at half- time as he looked like a bloke trying to carry four pints across a busy dance floor in the first half.
Never mind, a boisterous crowd on Thursday and a bit of luck and we’re back in the not unfamiliar territory of European quarter-finals.
I would urge people to get up there, if only for the fact it may be our last European game for a little while.
Kudos also to the 70-odd hardy souls who went over to Moscow to support the team.
Even though you probably had a shorter travel than the ‘home’ support, I am delighted you were given a performance to cheer.
Yesterday actually weighed on my mind to a greater degree, particularly as I read the statistics that Stoke, like Chris Huhne, rarely take points on their travels.
My fears I thought were going to be realised after a frustrating first half of watching us huff and puff against a Stoke side whose tactics made a Sam Allardyce team look positively progressive.
The penalty reinforced my sense of dread.
The bloke who scored it had a penalty record not unlike the aforementioned Huhne and regressive memories of previous Stoke teams acting as bogeymen pervaded.
Fortunately we got straight back into it, and then the otherwise ineffective Cissé’s winner made the post-match Amontillado slip down all the more easily.
I would again urge you to get up to SJP on Thursday. We are on a roll. Prem safety is all but assured and the prize of a jolly in Amsterdam isn’t beyond us.
After a wretched start, this is a time to be happy as a supporter, grasp it. American humorist Oscar Levant said: “Happiness isn’t something you experience, it’s something you remember.” Make Thursday a day to remember.