Anorak News | Thai Break

Thai Break

by | 18th, September 2002

‘ANYONE who ever loses a football match on the Iberian peninsular, and here we include Portugal, experiences ”pain in Spain”. It’s just the way it is. So the headline in the Sun and Express on Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat in Valencia comes as little surprise.

”I aim to be every bit as successful as Tim has been in bringing the Davis Cup home,” says Martin Lee

What is a shock is the banner that sits atop a shot of Arsenal’s Freddie Ljundberg celebrating his first goal, and his team’s second, in the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat of German side Borussia Dortmund. ”Hip hooray,” it says.

For those not in the know, Ljundberg had undergone an operation on, yes, that’s right, his hip. But Ljundberg is more than a one-headline pony, and the Mirror (”He’s Freddie for anything”) shows just that.

Tonight there is more opportunity for the sub editors to trot out the cliches as Manchester United play host to Maccabi Haifa of Israel. Expect mention of the promised land, falling walls and much milk and honey.

And if you cock an ear towards Alex Ferguson, you might just hear the sound of chewing and mention of another team, one by the name of Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Football fans will recall that name in context with Chelsea’s Uefa Cup defeat of last term. And Alex Ferguson is nothing if not a fan of football. ”Their form last season versus Locomotiv Moscow, Parma and AC Milan was a big step up for them,” says Sir Alex.

And he’s right, but what does that have to with Maccabi Haifa, the team his United face tonight? Not a lot, and we can only conclude that Fergie’s mind stopped learning new things a while ago.

In the Alex Ferguson brain, United are still kings of Europe, Roy Keane is a footballer and Tim Henman is about to win Wimbledon.

Some mental leap, but Ferguson is a sports fan, and any one of those worth his, or her, salt is right now daubing on the red, white and blue warpaint and getting ready for the big one: Great Britain v Thailand in the Davis Cup.

And that’s Great Britain without Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman. And in the time it takes to turn an ankle (Greg) and hurt a shoulder (Tim), Thailand are elevated from no hopers to international dark horses.

But never fear because the Express reports that Martin Lee (number 163 in the world rankings) is ready for the challenge. Recalling the last time he was part of a Davis Cup squad, when he sat on the bench for the duration, Lee offers little hope. ”I wasn’t even playing,” says Lee, ”but at the end of it my brain was fried. After three days of tension I was exhausted.”

But not to worry because as sports mad Alex Ferguson would attest, if you are going to lose there is no disgrace in losing to the best. And that includes, Thailand, Maccabi Haifa, Bolton…

Posted: 18th, September 2002 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink