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United 0 Spurs 0 (Utd win 4-1 on penalties)

I’d be lying if I said this result meant too much to me. Of course a trophy is a trophy and a day out at Wembley is always welcome, but can I honestly say I’ll be happy if the season ended with nothing else in the cabinet? This game was important for the kids, important for confidence, and will be more memorable if it is added to with bigger and better trophies in May.

Wembley is an easy journey for me- a group of us met up on Finchley Road at lunch time before making our way on the tube to Wembley. After sorting lots of tickets out at the station and meeting various people on Wembley Way we walked up the ramp towards the stands. Although this is the ‘people’s final’, as more tickets go to the fans of the two finalists than the FA Cup, it still does not compare to the Wembley of old. I remember looking back over Wembley Way when I was young at a sea of people dressed head to toe in colours with flags and banners all over the place. Now there 17,000 Club Wembley seats in the middle tier and about 20,000 other tickets given to the ‘football family’ which means that exciting walk of old is now more like a rush-hour commute full of suits. And even the fans themselves have to accept some blame- instead of the banners of old the stadium was a limited to a few MUFC banners in the upper tier and flags on every Spurs seat that the club had organised and handed out. Just like the music on the tannoy played to encourage singing along, it was a manufacturered event.

Our seats were low down in the lower tier- 12 rows from the front in the corner and they were much better than I had expected. For £66 they bloody well should be good. I looked up and remembered why I would never choose tickets in the upper tier- even the front row is higher than most of Old Trafford let alone row 40 up there which must match the Nou Camp. The teams were read out and I was impressed with Ferguson’s faith in some of the kids, whilst also worried that we lacked fire power up front. In hindsight I was right- 120 minutes with very few chances created. Ben Foster was the hero and the game will do wonders for his confidence, but Wellbeck looked a little out of his depth. The game was totally unmemorable- Foster made a great save, O’Shea should have been sent off and Ronaldo got booked when it should have been a pen and later hit the post- and will only be recalled for the penalty shoot out.

I have penalties. Too many memories of Torpedo Moscow and the cup final against Arsenal in Cardiff. However, four shoot outs in 2 seasons now and we have won them all. Foster picked up where VDS left off and his save from O’Hara was fantastic. Bentley bottled it too, whilst all four Reds kept their composure, Giggs yet again showing his calmness under pressure and Anderson reminding us of his penalty in Moscow. Happy days.

The trophy presentation was rather staged, with fireworks and music blaring over the PA system. The players were smiling and happy to have won but the celebrations were tempered as everyone knew their were bigger fish to fry coming up. The champagne was sprayed in front of us, the photos were taken with the cup and then we escaped to the tube as quick as possible to avoid a huge queue.

With this now out the way we can get back to bigger things- the return game against Inter and wrapping up the league are all important, and we should make life hard for Fulham next week in the cup too. 2 down, 3 to go.

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