Can't wait for the week ahead, for the second legs of the Uefa Champions League. I do love this time of the season, when there are so many ace Euro games and so many ace English clubs still in. OK, half in. Who would have thought that Liverpool would be the only one of our four to be ahead after the first leg? Well, most of Europe, probably. One thing all these games show us is that the Spanish and the Italian leagues are better.
It's been exhausting, of course, and will be in the week ahead, flicking between the channels. It's so annoying having two big games, two nights running, going on at the same time. Poor old Gordon Brown. I hope his video worked, the one he set when he had to drag himself off to China.
In the first leg, I chose to watch Chelsea v Barcelona rather than Manchester United v A C Milan, but they flash the other score up, so you know what's going on anyway. When there was a hold-up, or even just a throw-in or goal kick, I found myself switching over to the other game for an update. At half-times, you hope to catch up on what you've missed, which is hard, because the buggers synchronise the commercials. It also means you never have time to go to the lav. I can see commodes coming back, if this goes on. In your favourite club colours, of course.
I did a little survey next day whenever I met a human being, from the postie to people who rang, asking them who they watched first, Chelsea or Man United. Mainly it seemed to be Man United. For the uncommitted, they are on better form, playing more positively.
People on the phone also had a question for me: What's it like being the only Hunter left in the western world? You what, I said first time they asked, not knowing that Hunter S Thompson had died. It was strange, seeing the headline "Hunter shoots himself". Exactly my age as well. Mothers must have taken a sudden fancy to Hunter that year. Two anyway. The only other one I have heard of in my lifetime was a footballer called Hunter Devine. I think he played for Queens Park, the Glasgow club. And I think he was called Devine. More spottings, please.
Naturally, I chose Chelsea for Jose Mourinho. I am fascinated by him, though not as much as my dear wife. She thinks he's gorgeous. Oh no, gerroff, stopit, that's my sore arm. I'm just winding you up. But she always seems to linger over photographs of him, specially that moody one of him, seen through snowflakes, unshaven, his collar up like a Fifties French film star, oooh, Ivy. People are comparing him to Brian Clough, but Cloughy had the sexual attraction of a plate.
We all knew that the arrival of Roman Abramovich would dramatically shake up the Premiership, not allowing Man United and Arsenal to have it their own way, which has been good, but we didn't expect him to hire a Chelsea manager who would turn out to be a drama in himself. He can't resist shooting his mouth off, telling us how clever and smart and successful he is. He endlessly amuses me, but the football hacks are about to turn against him, having worked so hard to build him up.
I'll be going to the Arsenal-Bayern Munich game. I expect the Gunners to be crap, just as they always are in Europe, further proof that our Premiership is not as good as Sky TV tells us. But I'll still enjoy it. The crowds are brilliant at European matches, singing all the way through. That's the Germans. Arsenal fans will go very quiet.
One of the puzzles about Europe is Dennis Bergkamp. We know he doesn't fly and so he misses the away legs, but what does he do? Practise keepy-uppy in his garden? Take the wife
for a walk round the block? What about his contract? Presumably
it's written in that he's let off flying, but does he therefore lose out on the bonuses? Next time I sign a book contract to write someone's biography I'll say sorry, I don't travel, you'll have to come to me. But not during the footer. I'll be busy.
On Wednesday, at Highbury, I'll be watching carefully in case some kid drops that huge circular tablecloth they shake before kick-off, and also listening to the Euro anthem. Just to check if they really are singing, "Lasagne!"