History making thrown to back seat

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

Somehow, you knew it would end like this.

In the shadow of a refereeing controversy and another tunnel bust-up. And with enough mud-slinging to leave the whole image of the game wallowing in the mire.

At the end of the greatest run English soccer has ever seen, history was all but hidden by histrionics.

During a predictably pathetic post-game game of handbags at dawn, an unnamed Arsenal player or players allegedly threw soup, pizza and sandwiches at Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

And so the die was cast. The collapse of Arsenal's 49-game unbeaten streak became little more than a footnote to the main topic of discussion: horror tackles, revenge and, most importantly, the flavour of the soup du jour.

"Alex Ferguson had pea soup and food thrown at him by an Arsenal player," screamed the English Sun.

But the Telegraph begged to differ.

"The Manchester United manager had tomato soup thrown over him," it said, adding helpfully that "the damage done to Ferguson's official club shirt, tie and blazer was so bad that the Scot had to go back into the United dressing rooms and get changed before he did his live interview."

Oh, the horror.

No one should really care, but the childish debate over the colour of Arsenal's rage - red, or greenish white? - has at least provided a welcome distraction from the childish antics of some of the world's best players.

There's a lot of history here, but you could probably condense the game into the following: Manchester United won 2-0, thanks in part to a dodgy penalty and some other questionable refereeing decisions.

Was it a fair result? Maybe not. Is Arsenal the victim of a great conspiracy? I don't think so.

Ask some of the teams at the bottom of the table what kind of help they get from the ref when they play Arsenal.

And they'll tell you they've been on the receiving end of bad decisions for years - and some have stared relegation in the face as a result, not just lost three points.

The difference, of course, is that they didn't see it as a good reason to waste some perfectly good soup, pizza and sandwiches.

The latest from Gazza

Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne has opened the latest bizarre chapter in his soap-opera life by changing his name.

The supremely talented midfielder, who is trying to build a career as a coach after alcoholism blighted his playing days, decided a change of moniker would help him start afresh.

Which would all have been perfectly understandable if he'd changed his name to Gary Lineker, or even Pamela Anderson.

But no, he had to go and tell the world that from now on, he wants to be known as G8.

That's G as in Gascoigne and 8 as in his jersey number - not the acronym for the world's eight leading economic nations.

Sometimes a rose by any other name just doesn't smell as sweet.

Let the coach tell it ...

It's an injury even doctors would struggle to explain. But it's much more humorous if you leave it to someone with a more down-to-earth understanding of human biology: a soccer coach.

Steve Coppell did his best, but struggled to explain exactly why Reading's Paul Brooker was having a little ball trouble.

"Paul's got a problem with his testicle, or thereabouts," he, er, explained. "He injured the wiring behind in training."


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