BY JOHN O’SULLIVAN
The thing is we all know that miracles are always happening in sport, because when we talk about miracles in a sporting context, we are not talking about the miraculous or even the impossible, but the highly unlikely. We are not talking about transmogrification, or ascension to heaven, we are talking about a one-footed full back scoring a 30-yard screamer to win a Cup Final, or a seventeen stone forward running the length of the pitch to score a try; highly unlikely but not miraculous.
Football is littered with miracles, indeed you would be hard pressed to find an era where one doesn’t occur; whether it’s the miracle of Bern – when a fledgling West Germany beat the all powerful Hungary to win the World Cup – or Anfield ’89 where Arsenal had to win by 2 goals to be league champions. There is the unlikely comeback, by Liverpool, against Milan in Istanbul in 2005 or Manchester United’s comeback against Bayern Munich in 1999. There is Denis Taylor and there is Dawn Run. There is David O’ Leary’s penalty against Romania in Italia ’90 and Timoftei’s subsequent miss. In this enlightened age of science and reason we, as football fans, are reduced to quivering superstitious fools by the all powerful football Gods!
These omnipotent beings, so widespread in ancient times, now exist only in sport. They sit in judgement and wonder at our feeble prayers not for a good harvest but for silverware, promotion, our pleas to stave off not winter but relegation, or the ignominy of a penalty shoot-out exit against all the odds. Show me the most ardent atheist who hasn’t faced the telly with both fingers crossed, arms held aloft in supplication, and praying “please, please”, for an extra five minutes of injury time and I’ll show you a liar. Truth is, these football Gods are equally as mischievous and cruel as any Gods of antiquity.
The Gods of football give only two gifts; ecstasy and despair. For them there is no middle ground. This is their ultimate aim, but before that, they cruelly dangle hope for they know that it is the undoing of men. They know that as long as a man has hope, then the greater the ecstasy or the deeper the despair will be. The path of hope will ultimately lead to the Gods’ great gifts.
So as we enter the last games of the premiership any one of three teams can still win it. Man City have the doomed air of certainty about them, Chelsea have a tiny, tiny hope and Liverpool well they have that beaten air about them, but mark my words they think they’ve been through it all, they are just entering the hot gates! The Gods have more torture planned. Even if City win on Wednesday, it will all come down to the last day. City could lose, or worse, be losing!! Truly, those who the Gods seek to destroy, they first make mad!!
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