Nicklas Bendtner's pink boots show you how mad the game has
gone. In the old days you had to be a real individual to get away with wearing
coloured boots and only a few people could get away with it.
I always wore black ones, but nowadays I think I'd be in a
fairly small minority. When you see somebody like Gary Neville wearing white
boots you know it has gone too far.
No offence to Gary, who replaced me as Manchester United right-back, but he is not
the kind of player you instantly associate with flair and flashiness.
I tell you, no kid of mine would ever wear pink plastic
boots. If I'm paying up to £100 for a pair of boots they have to be leather.
Plastic just doesn't have the same quality. If it did I'd be
eating my dinner off Tupperware rather than bone china.
At least Bendtner added some colour to the otherwise dull,
uncompetitive spectacle the Champions League has become.
With one round of group stage games remaining, all but three
of the last 16 have been decided.
There has always been a problem with the format because it
is suited to the best teams, and that comes at the expense of excitement and
You can almost guarantee who is going to go through as soon
as the draw is made because it is carefully seeded to make sure there are only
two strong teams in each group.
Of course you get the occasional upset - like Manchester
United going out in the group stage in 2005/06 - but these days it seems like
you are all but certain to get four Premier League teams, plus the usual
suspects from Spain and Italy, in the
Everything is geared towards getting the big teams to the
knockout stages and even then the big teams are often kept apart as the group
winners play the runners-up.
I would love to see a return to the old knockout format but
I don't think that will ever happen.
It's not about the people who are watching in the stands,
and that is shown by the plummeting attendances at clubs like Chelsea.
If crowds are down a few thousand it's not really a big deal
compared to the amount of money that comes in from sponsorship and TV deals.
UEFA might eventually have to act if interest in the
competition continues to wane, and the current economic crisis won't help