But I can't have it all ways. I'm genuinely excited for this evening's game as it is against Ajax - another Champions League drop out. I've always liked Ajax. No idea why. While at school I actually had an Ajax shirt because I love the fact that the sponsor was vertical rather than horizontal. Although having looked back, it seems that I was a bit older than I expected as it appears to be the shirt worn by the all conquering 1995 side.
I suppose I was a bit of an odd one at school. I also had a Southampton shirt - you don't see many of them in East Manchester. I just liked it. God knows why. maybe it reminded me of the Denmark shirt in the 1986 World Cup, after all it's practically the same design and that Denmark team boasted my first favourite player - Jesper Olsen. Which brings us nicely back around to Manchester United and the club's opportunity to join Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus as the only teams to win all three European trophies (RIP Cup Winners' Cup). It all depends on how seriously Ferguson takes the competition - he has yet to win a UEFA Cup match as United manager; I think he has drawn all four and gone out on penalties or away goals. Of course the primary motivation for Manchester United fans and Manchester City fans in this competition is to stop the other lot from winning it, which is a bit arrogant considering there are another 30 teams still in the competition.
The pretentious theme music of the Champions League has been played so often now over nearly two decades that it now has a Pavlovian effect - even the players remark about getting goosepimples before a match when they here the music. However the Europa League theme, albeit only three seasons in, is not nearly as awe inspiring. I've even been to a Europa League final and have no memory of this piece of music at all.
It comes across as a diet version of the Champions League version, which is fine if you consider that is what UEFA seem to want the Europa League to be as well. But if they want something more memorable, why not try something a bit more, well, individual. The song I remember being played in Hamburg is the Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling, which was everywhere at the time. But if the Europa League could get its own World in Motion, or even God forbid a Three Lions, then it would be one step closer to getting its own personality and actually achieving some respect and standing on its own two feet. But when it is undermined by 'Big Cup' to such an extent that next week's Man City home tie against Porto has a 5pm kick off to avoid clashing with Champions League matches, respect for the competition from within UEFA seems sorely lacking - so why should anyone else respect it?