Champions League success doesn't happen overnight.
You know that feeling when you've gone for a really good meal, but leave still feeling a bit hungry? That's the overwhelming feeling I've got from watching Arsenal so far this season. Don't get me wrong, it's not been a bad start...not exactly awe-inspiring, but still decent enough and with shinning beacons of promise (and don't we just love the words 'promise' and 'potential' at Arsenal!)
Even at cash strapped sides outside the elite group of clubs in Italy, Mancini won trophies and delivered success, achieving rewards for both Fiorentina and Lazio above and beyond what was expected at the time. Three Italian league titles on the bounce at Inter Milan followed, proving that he had the managerial capability to win under the pressure of Milanese expectation.
Celtic have won 2 of their last 34 European away games. That statistic will be echoed across every British newspaper on the eve of their critical Champions League clash with Helsingborgs IF. Such a statistic, without proper context, is incredibly misleading.
No European team has won the World Cup on South American soil. Argentina and Brazil tend to enjoy home advantage and Brazil will certainly hope to take advantage come 2014.
It was through my daily work with youth players around the world that I realised that many clubs - whatever their size - shared a common problem.
Chelsea's triumph in winning their first ever European Cup has dismayed many. "Anti-football" they call it. Because Di Matteo's Blues are reticent and negative, and appeared determined to resemble Steaua Bucharest versus Barcelona in 1986 or Red Star Belgrade against Marseille in 1991, they were not ostensibly worthy winners.
o, London went to the polls. Or rather it didn't, because: it was a bit parky out; it might have rained; we'd run out of milk; had to get to the shops; who could be arsed; it was the same old people; oh, was it on Thursday?
If you spend long enough, there are *some* positives amongst the rubble of Monday's mess. So here they are....
At the risk of hyperbolising, the year 2012 is one that could shape Tottenham's destiny for the coming decade and beyond. Mediocre for the majority of the 90s and early millennium, Spurs are no longer regarded as perennial underachievers, destined to finish the season in mid-table.
Lionel Messi scored five against Bayer Leverkusen last night to become the first player in Champions League history to score said amount in a match.
City's footballing difficultiesin Europe may just be down to a lack of experience. The scale of their prospective financial woes are largely exaggerated. My advice for Mancini's men? Keep calm and carry on (and, for the banter, erect statues of Mpenza and Musampa).
Over the past ten days, England have beaten the reigning world champions for the first time in over thirty years. Three days later, they beat Sweden for the first time in colour. Two momentous results - the national team on the up again. Hip hip and tally ho. Yet the two big football stories of the week were about poppies and racism.
He's won five La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and is often called the best player of the generation. He is clearly sickeningly good at football. So, from a mental perspective, why is he so damn good?
We're in the final. God knows how we've managed it, but we have. It's tonight. It's not the World Cup, the Champions League or Wimbledon. It's the playoffs final for the fifth division of an advertising and media softball league. But it will mean everything to us.