GILES SMITH: NO SIXTH SENSE

Posted on: Thu 25 Apr 2013

Four days on now from team's last outing, supporter and columnist Giles Smith is still struggling to get his head around all that occured that afternoon…


Because one issue in particular came to dominate the conversation after the Liverpool game, no one was talking about the issue that mattered. Namely, where did those six minutes of added time come from?

Never mind Branislav Ivanovic's upper arm: this is what most of us were chewing over afterwards. Where did the officials find six minutes?

It's a question that will still be baffling the academics in the universities many years from now. Indeed, I'm no expert in applied maths, but I reckon even Stephen Hawking will have been struggling to explain this one.

When the board went up, one racked one's brain for explanations, and came up blank. Had someone received lengthy treatment, prior to being carried off? Not that anyone could remember.

Had there been a pitch invasion by supporters leading to the referee temporarily withdrawing the players to the dressing rooms? Not that anyone had noticed.

Did a swarm of killer bees descend at one point, causing an evacuation of the stadium and the suspension of the game pending the full fumigation of Anfield? Again, it had somehow passed us all by if so.

The temptation was to believe that the fourth official had decided to close his eyes and press the buttons on the board randomly. In which case, I suppose we're lucky he only came up with 6 rather than 26 or worse, because we might even have lost in those circumstances.

The mystery didn't end there, though. If it was hard enough to understand where six minutes came from, it was even harder to comprehend how six minutes became six minutes and 40 seconds in practice. Again, science simply can't be used to explain it. Actually, I'm not sure even science fiction would be much use.

Think of it this way, though: if we miss out on a Champions League place by two points at the end of this season, it could well be because a player who shouldn't have been on the pitch scored a goal in time that shouldn't have been added on.

Funny old game.

Anyway, where has all this left us in the Premier League? Quite well placed, really, given the game in hand on Arsenal, although the situation surrounding those top four places clearly has the possibility of twisting and tightening rather nastily between now and the final day.

The pathetic capitulation of Manchester City at Tottenham on Sunday hasn't helped us any - even though in many ways it's the story of City's season and therefore ought to have been predictable.

And there's no question that it would have been nicer if Manchester United had failed to secure the title against Aston Villa on Monday night in order to increase their appetite for winning it at the Emirates on Sunday.

Then again, Sir Alex Ferguson clearly has his loveable old eyes fixed on our record tally of league points, and the project of overtaking it with a clean sweep of victories between now and the end of the season, so perhaps that will be enough to keep his otherwise holiday-ready players interested at Arsenal.

Old Trafford

Although, if that project could have fallen apart by the time that we go to Old Trafford, leaving United nothing more urgent to do than swan around as champions, it would also be handy.

Of course, if football has taught us anything, it's that you can't trust any of these people to do you a favour when you need it. Best look after ourselves, then.

If you were watching the Champions League semi-final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid on the television last night, you will have found yourself hearing no fewer than four bursts of the Pet Shop Boys' 'Go West' - the jingle pumped through the Tannoy when Dortmund score.

This followed Tuesday's reminder of the way they organise these things at the Allianz Arena - the explosion of music, the ululating PA man screaming as if just bitten by a very large dog, the call-and-response routine on the score, complete with concluding 'danke' and 'bitte'. Those of us who were in Munich last May ended up having quite fond memories of all that nonsense, as it turned out, although I recall that it was pretty hard to swallow at the time.

If we really do stand - as many leading thinkers about the game are currently suggesting - on the verge of a new period of German domination for European football, let's at least hope that it doesn't lead to people getting ideas about borrowing German stadium presentation. Artificial atmosphere-boosting and organised cheerleading at the scoring of goals are - to use a phrase made briefly popular by the UEFA referees' committee chairman Volker Roth - the enemy of football. We must all of us ensure that such things never happen here.

It's good to be busy. And there has never been a season like this for being busy. Accordingly, just four days after beating Liverpool at Anfield (in regulation time), we go to Switzerland for our second semi-final and our 62nd match of the campaign - a campaign which may yet end up comprising a record-breaking 69 matches.

True, dropping league points along the way to the likes of Reading, QPR and Liverpool has been disappointing - even (with no disrespect intended to those teams) a touch embarrassing. But the argument that this hasn't been a season of unusual achievement, even so, and in exceptionally strenuous circumstances, simply doesn't hold water.