THIS year will be the first time in almost 15 years that I will not be commentating on the Champions League final – ironic as it would have been the closest to home being at Wembley.
C’est la vie! Nonetheless Manchester United and Barcelona should put on a captivating display.
I was in Rome when the Spaniards totally outclassed United in the 2009 final, but with ‘home’ advantage United could repeat their Wembley triumph of 1968 over Benfica.
Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps harbouring a sense of injustice, has claimed that the whole of this country will not be behind his team as it was behind Sir Matt Busby’s over four decades ago – and he is right.
There was a great deal of sentimentality attached to United after the Munich air disaster, but that has gradually been eroded and I don’t think the likes of Beckham, Keane and Neville will ever be afforded the love and adulation that still surrounds the names of Best, Law and Charlton.
Plus the fans of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester City and a few other clubs detest the perceived arrogance of the club they see as their principal rivals – so don’t expect them to shed any tears over another Barcelona win.
United have deservedly won yet another Premier League title but this is the ultimate test, and while that 19th title has been achieved while rarely finding peak form, anything less will be punished by the Catalans.
I’m not making any rash predictions, but I think it will be a lot closer than it was in Moscow.