Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Formula One 2014: Complete schedule, standings, driver info
Real's Kaka shows his frustration against Lyon.
Real's Kaka shows his frustration against Lyon.

A reality cheque for Real

I couldn't help smiling when Real Madrid tumbled out of the Champions League this week.

I couldn't help smiling when Real Madrid tumbled out of the Champions League this week. When will people realise that you cannot buy a winning team? You can build a team but, I'm delighted to say, you can't buy one. If money can't buy you love, a cheque book certainly can't buy you the Champions League. The Galacticos project sold shirts but those who build teams over the years are the ones who eventually prove successful on the pitch.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Co are beautiful to watch but where's the grit? Where's the beef? Until Manuel Pellegrini, the Real coach, gets to buy his own players and is given time to develop a team I think the project will be ultimately flawed. In this money mad world, it's vaguely refreshing to know it's a team ethic that prevails, as was the case with Lyon getting the better of Real, holding the pampered stars of Madrid to a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu to win their last-16 encounter 2-1 on aggregate.

Give managers the time to develop and mould players and then we can all rejoice in success. As I always say: it's the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger who've been the most successful simply because they've been given the most time. When will people learn?

I remember my old boss at Granada TV, in the north-west of England, hammering me after one show because I split an infinitive while presenting live on air. In fact, I split two. But as I didn't understand what an infinitive was, and indeed still don't, I guessed that splitting more than one didn't really matter. The point he was trying to make to me was speak properly. With this in mind, why do commentators now say: "He doesn't want to be in a foot race with him." A foot race? As opposed to what? A car race or a bike race? They mean a race. Full stop. What a lot of nonsense fellas. Stop bringing the game into disrepute.

I've been transported back 40 years to my childhood in recent weeks as my six-year-old has become obsessed with collecting football cards and sticking them into his little sticker album. His are called "Match Attacks" while years ago they were called Panini Stickers, and even further back and in my collecting pomp, something else.

You buy a pack of stickers, collect all the players and teams and swap the ones you already have for the coveted stars your collection is missing. The same rules still apply. In my day it was 10 Ralph Coates for one Kevin Keegan. Today, it's 20 Paul McShanes to get Steven Gerrard's left leg. It's 42 Clarke Carlisles if you want the right one. It's great fun for kids and long may it continue. sports@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National