116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Young & The Trophyless

Heading into the home stretch, with the final legs of the Champions League semifinals today and tomorrow, a Serie A champion already crowned, the Premiership all but decided and La Liga limping into a hazy conclusion, I've had to stop and ask myself the question of what actually constitutes success in the footballing world. I recall teasing Chelsea for what I thought was an over-celebration of the Carling Cup, with at least one Chelsea fan telling me such a celebration is warranted, a trophy is a trophy, after all.
Thing is, after watching the events of the past weekend, is there any question that the Blues will be more than dissatisfied if the only thing they walk away with this season is the Carling Cup? What if they "only" claim the FA Cup this year? Would they then look upon the season as a success, or is it Premiership, Champions League or bust?
Gennaro Gattuso is shocked at how far Milan have come in the Champions League. Nearly relegated at the start of the season, deducted eight points and forced to go through European pre-qualifying, the Rossoneri find themselves down 3-2 on aggregate to Manchester United, but hold two away goals going into the second leg. For Milan, this season did not begin with the usual expectations, yet they stand a more than reasonable chance to achieve European glory yet again. Should they fail, would their loss be the icing on a disappointing season, or do they walk away with their heads held high, morally victorious? Does Milan ever even consider a moral victory to be a legitimate outcome?
Manchester United, within sniffing distance of the Premiership title, doesn't really have to worry about moral victories or what ifs, barring a total and unlikely collapse. They are focused on the league, pushing for a double and dreaming of a treble. What a luxury it must be, the ability to dream this big this late in the season. Suppose they do pull off the treble this year, leaving a Carling Cup to Chelsea and scraps to Liverpool and AC Milan. Suppose, going further, that Liverpool beats Chelsea to make the Champions League final. Would that give a trophy-less Liverpool team a better season than Carling Cup winners Chelsea? Would AC Milan have the most to be proud of, considering all they've been through? I can't say I can really sort any of this out, but it is fascinating to contemplate.


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