BSAD report: Like us, Coventry came to enjoy themselves. Their last chance for an away win brought their fans out in force and they contributed fully to a tremendous pre-match atmosphere. Robert Page received his “Player of the Season” trophy to a huge ovation, and both he and Haig Oundjian paid tribute to the supporters who have done the club proud in recent months. Following a earth-shaking, immense “ELTON JOHN’S TAYLOR-MADE ARMY” session, the team emerged from the tunnel into bright May sunshine for its final Premiership appearance….
Just the reserves, of course. No Cole, Scholes, Beckham, Keane or Stam, and Yorke sunning himself on the bench until half-time. Nothing to play for, the Championship and relegation issues resolved last week. A stroll in the April sunshine. Except that this is Manchester United, and you’re playing a brandname as much as a football team. A victory means something, regardless of who happens to be representing the multinational plc this week. They’ve made it that way, not us…but it’s still brilliant, still a reminder of what English football will lose when the Champions League makes games like this a thing of the past.
This – for those of you not there, you poor wanderers – was a heart-stopping game, not as visceral and energising as last week’s pulsating kickaround, but liberating in a different way. It was helped no end by the remarkable even-handedness of the referee, something which shouldn’t elicit comment but these days does, and which riled champions who arrogantly, complacently expect special treatment by right. So at least we were in with a shout, playing eleven against eleven. Just like at Anfield all those months ago, we could only beat the guys they put in front of us. Or so we thought for half a blissful hour.