Wayne Rooney Names Son For Star Trek Deep Space Nine Character

Whilst all supporters of Manchester United, the greatest football team on the planet, and England are celebrating and congratulating Wayne Rooney and wife Coleen Rooney on the birth of their first child, wild speculation rages as to the origin of the name of their son, Kai Wayne Rooney.

Media speculation has it that the name is anything from one of the characters from Mortal Kombat, a Shaolin Monk or that it is from the Hawaiian word for sea, the Finnish word for rejoice, a hybrid with Welsh, Scandinavian and Greek roots meaning  keeper of the keys, whilst further speculation offers Japanese, Mandarin and even Burmese origins.

Eurocritics can exclusively reveal speculate that the name Kai Wayne is in fact an affectionate tribute to the fearsome religious leader Kai Winn from the excellent TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which Wayne and Coleen would undoubtedly have watched on late night TV on one of the many large screen TVs installed throughout their custom built luxury mansion.

Wayne and Coleen are both devout Catholics and would undoubtedly have been drawn to the fiery, independent, if misguided, nature of the combative and committed faithist.

There is even some photographic likeness. Nobody has yet seen a picture of Kai Wayne but photos of
Wayne, Coleen and Kai Winn even show a certain similarity between the footballer and the religious leader.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney – or is it Kai Winn?

Coleen Rooney

Coleen Rooney

Kai Winn - or is it Wayne Rooney

Kai Winn – or is it Wayne Rooney


The Good, The Bad and The X Factor

The X Factor is many things: a compelling spectacle; Simon Cowell’s brilliant idea of getting the entire United Kingdom to do his A&R for him; a chance for ordinary people to get an extraordinary opportunity; an opportunity for a lot of people who really ought to know better to talk a whole load of rubbish; fantastic entertainment; a depressing process that prizes generic conformity over originality; a production line that produces competent entertainers; and completely devoid of anything that touches upon artistic creativity of any kind. Whew, not bad for a TV show!

X Factor contestants Kandy Rain

X Factor contestants Kandy Rain

This weekend’s shows were par for the course, compelling and depressing in equal proportions.

In the previous two weeks we had seen the predictable departure of girl group Kandy Rain in week 1, to my mind not for musical reasons but because they were simply too sexy for an ultimately conservative show like The X Factor and the welcome departure of the oddly eyebrowed Scot Rikki Loney the following week.

The biggest change for this week’s Big Band theme was a completely new image for Rachel Adedeji, who abandoned her Rihanna meets Morrissey big top for a cute bob and swapped her previous moody introversion for a giggly smiley face that left me wondering if she was on Prozac. Whatever the reason, she turned in a much better, albeit less interesting performance and avoided the unbearable torture of a third week sing off.

Of the other contestants, Ollie Murs, who surprisingly fancies himself as a cross between Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown; teen hearthrob Joe McElderry,

Wee Joe McElderry, Cheryl's sex bomb or is it little brother?

Wee Joe McElderry, Cheryl's sex bomb or is it little brother?

who confused the nation’s sweetheart Cheryl Cole into saying both that he is sexy and like a brother to her; the anonymous Lloyd Daniels; the previously impressive and constantly charming Stacey Solomon; the overly confident Danyl Johnson; and Jamie Afro Archer turned in competent if unremarkable performances, the highlight of which was the latter’s performance of a U2 song causing geriatric Louis Walsh to protest that Jamie and Simon Cowell were cheating by not selecting a “real” big band song. Oh, the controversy!

The remaining three contestants delivered more exciting performances, Welsh Divette Lucie Jones was effortlessly immaculate, the “controversial” Grimes twins John & Edward, aka Jedward, once again turned in the most entertaining performance of all the contestants and the manufactured trio comprising recruitment consultant Shar Alexandra, barmaid Graziella Affinita and hairdresser Shanice Davis, aka Miss Frank, turned in the one performance of the night that actually brought some art into the music on offer, largely due to another impressive rap by Graziella.

Their art was all in vain however as tonight’s sing off pitted Miss Frank

Miss Frank will be missed

Miss Frank will be missed

against Danyl Johnson and, after fellow judges Louis Walsh (groups) and Simon Cowell (over 25s) understandably backed their own artists, Dannii Minogue plumped for Danyl and Cheryl Cole displayed untypical feebleness by declining to make a decision and passed the buck to the public. There was never any doubt that the target audience for this light entertainment talent show wasn’t going to pick a really creative act and it was the end of the road for the most original singers on the show, Miss Frank.

All in all, this weekend’s shows were another triumph for the conservative mediocrity the show specialises in, complete with additional live performances by the bafflingly successful vocal group Westlife and the effortlessly charmless competence of Michael Bublé.

Will I watch again next week? Almost certainly, although now the art has gone and left only the pop, I doubt I’ll watch faithfully every week as I have up to now. The final show is a must see though, if only to see how the nation’s pop fanatics have thinned out the competition’s wilder edges, leaving only the polished, if impersonal, pop pie perfection.

Ebbsfleet United – A Different Kind of Football Club

Possibly as an antidote to the increasingly pervasive influence of big business in football, I have recently joined the over 30,000 football fans from 122 different countries that have invested the modest sum of £35 a year to own our very own football club, Ebbsfleet United.

The members of MyFootballClub.co.uk bought the club for £600,000 in February 2008 and just three months later Ebbsfleet United won the FA Trophy at Wembley, the club’s greatest achievement so far in a history that dates back to 1890.

There are many benefits to this modest investment, far less than the price of a ticket to most Premiership games. I get to actually help pick the team, decide on transfers in and out, get a free match day programme sent to me via email and vote on everything from marketing/promotional strategies to the performance of the manager and the board.

There is also a dedicated forum where I can chat with other football fans about any and all football matters, either about Ebbsfleet or more general issues affecting the game.

Ebbsfleet United are currently mid-table in the Blue Square Premier League, only 4 promotions away from the Premier League, and on something of a high right now. Not only is former Ebbsfleet (then called Gravesend & Northfleet) player Jimmy Bullard, now with Fulham, called up to the latest full England squad for the imminent 2010 World Cup qualifying matches against Andorra and Croatia but the team also has 3 players, goalkeeper Lance Cronin, central defender James Smith and striker Luke Moore in the England C squad.

The club is handily located close to the high speed Eurostar hub Ebbsfleet International, making it easy for the club’s international fanbase to get to the games.

Here is a list of some of the key milestones in the history of the world’s first and only internet community owned football club:-

2007

26 AprilMy Football Club launches.

31 July – 53,000 register their names and email addresses on the website.

1 August – £250,000 is collected on the first day membership fees are accepted.

10 August – £500,000 is collected in 10 days and MyFootballClub has over 12,000 members.

August to November – Nine football clubs approach MyFootballClub, asking to be purchased.

13 November – A deal in principle is reached to buy Ebbsfleet United (EUFC), from the Blue Square Premier division.

2008

12 February – Members vote to accept Nike’s offer to become the club’s kit and merchandise supplier.

21 February – MyFootballClub members vote to complete the purchase of EUFC for around £600,000. Over 21,000 members from 70 different countries own 75% of the club.

14 March – Members elect seven members onto the My Football Club Society Limited Board.

15 March – EUFC reach Wembley for the first time in their history, beating Aldershot 4-2 over two legs in the FA Trophy Semi Final.

8 April – Members vote to freeze season ticket prices at the club.

9 May – Members travel from over 20 countries to watch the Final, including Australia, America, Canada, Turkey, Croatia, Italy and Sweden.

10 May – EUFC lift the FA Trophy at Wembley after beating Torquay 1-0. Up to 5,000 overseas members watch an online feed provided by the FA and Sky, and over 26,000 Fleet fans at Wembley – old and new – witness the historic victory.

June/July – Ebbsfleet United enjoy record season ticket sales for the 08/09 campaign.

9 June – Members vote to set the weekly playing budget at £10,000.

August – Members and supporters raise £20,000 among themselves to buy striker Michael Gash from Cambridge City.

Most recently the members voted to allow the transfer of star striker John Akinde to Championship side Bristol City for a club record transfer fee of £150,000.

Obviously it remains to be seen if this kind of transfer of power from faceless corporations to grassroots fans can be sustained if and when Ebbsfleet United progress up the league ladder but it is a great feeling to be so intimately involved in the day to day running of a real (as opposed to fantasy) football club.

Football is Big Business

Three years ago I started a tiny blog all about Manchester United, the World’s Greatest Football Team (copyright © 2008 Christopher Rose), stunningly titled About Manchester United.

Due to a whole ton of reasons which will one day be chronicled elsewhere, I haven’t been keeping About Manchester United (™) up to date, but it features match reviews and news stories about the World’s Greatest Football Team (© 2008 Christopher Rose), nothing totally original, just one guy’s small tribute to his home town team.

About two years ago, at the start of the 2006-2007 season, I published an article looking forward to the coming season and detailing United’s fixtures for the season ahead.

It was no big deal, just a list of fixtures that I compiled myself from a variety of sources such as the online BBC Football section and from the Red Devils’ own site. I even went so far as to incorporate links back to all the other clubs’ home pages in the fixture list. Hey, even though I support the Greatest Football Team in the World (™), I’m not above giving the little guys a break.

Some time after posting the fixtures, I received an email from some overly excited law firm demanding that I remove the fixtures from the article as it breached the Premier League and/or the FA‘s copyright. What? My tiny blog, which has a combined readership well into the dozens, was a threat to these mighty organisations or was somehow going to put these mighty organisations out of business? Surely this is the law gone mad? Or at least with too much time on its hands.

I was actually very busy struggling to survive at the time (some things never change) and never actually got around to removing the list. My bad!

Fortunately, the legal eagles somehow overlooked my terrible crime of loving a football club and never followed up on their threats to throw me out on the streets, seize all my vast possessions and curse my entire gene line until the end of time. Lucky me.

This was a salutary lesson on the power of big business gone mad and, to show my respect for the great powers that be and the wonderful corporations that now control the World’s Greatest Game (™), I present you the latest list of league fixtures facing the Red Devils in the coming season.

AIG v Northern Rock Sunday 17 August 2008, 16:00

Oki Printers v AIG Monday 25 August 2008, 20:00

Carlsberg Lager v AIG Saturday 13 September 2008, 12:45

Samsung v AIG Sunday 21 September 2008, 14:00

AIG v Reebok Saturday 27 September 2008, 15:00

Crown Paints v AIG Saturday 4 October 2008, 17:30

AIG v T Mobile Saturday 18 October 2008, 17:30

Chang Beer v AIG Saturday 25 October 2008, 12:00

AIG v XL Holidays Wednesday 29 October 2008, 20:00

AIG v Karoo Saturday 1 November 2008, 15:00

Emirates v AIG Saturday 8 November 2008, 12:45

AIG v Britannia Building Society Saturday 15 November 2008, 15:00

Acorns v AIG Saturday 22 November 2008, 17:30

Thomas Cook v AIG Sunday 30 November 2008, 13:30

AIG v Boylesports Saturday 6 December 2008, 15:00

Mansion v AIG Saturday 13 December 2008, 15:00

AIG v JJB Sports Saturday 20 December 2008, 15:00

Britannia Building Society v AIG Friday 26 December 2008, 15:00

AIG v Garmin Sunday 28 December 2008, 14:00

AIG v Samsung Saturday 10 January 2009, 15:00

Reebok v AIG Saturday 17 January 2009, 15:00

T Mobile v AIG Tuesday 27 January 2009, 19:45

AIG v Chang Beer Saturday 31 January 2009, 15:00

XL Holidays v AIG Saturday 7 February 2009, 15:00

AIG v Crown Paints Saturday 21 February 2009, 15:00

AIG v Oki Printers Saturday 28 February 2009, 15:00

Northern Rock v AIG Wednesday 4 March 2009, 19:45

AIG v Carlsberg Lager Saturday 14 March 2009,15:00

LG v AIG Saturday 21 March 2009, 15:00

AIG v Acorns Saturday 4 April 2009, 15:00

Boylesports v AIG Saturday 11 April 2009, 15:00

JJB Sports v AIG Saturday 18 April 2009, 15:00

AIG v Mansion Saturday 25 April 2009, 15:00

Garmin v AIG Saturday 2 May 2009, 15:00

AIG v Thomas Cook Saturday 9 May 2009, 15:00

AIG v Emirates Saturday 16 May 2009, 15:00

Karoo v AIG Sunday 24 May 2009, 16:00

Welcome to the future, sports fans.

I note that AIG have a particularly difficult start to the new season with the opening fixture against Northern Rock followed by three consecutive away games against Oki Printers, Carlsberg Lager and Samsung. Typical!

The author would like to convey his personal appreciation to the unnamed company that designed the almost identical web sites of a large proportion of the Premier League clubs. I especially like the obligatory two pages of adverts one has to view before actually accessing the web site content. What a great idea! It doesn’t make the football clubs seem somewhat of an afterthought at all…

$23 Billion “Lost” In Iraq

According to an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme, as much as $23 billion (£12 billion) of US taxpayer’s money has gone missing. The money has been lost, stolen or simply just not accounted for by as many as 70 private US companies.

The BBC reports that the US Justice Department has imposed official gagging orders on court cases against some of the top US companies and that these gagging orders are unlikely to be lifted whilst George W Bush remains as President.

The report quotes US Democrat Henry Waxman, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as saying:

“The money that’s gone into waste, fraud and abuse under these contracts is just so outrageous, its egregious. “It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history.”

The Panorama report, Daylight Robbery, details “allegations of mismanagement, fraud and waste; tales of contractors chosen for their US government connections without a competitive bidding process; contractors inflating their costs and double counting to increase their profits and billions supposed to be used to rebuild the Iraqi military allegedly ending up in the pockets of some Iraqi government officials.

Even the contract to oversee the expenditure went to a company with no relevant qualification in accounting.

“They are the quintessential war profiteers,” said a witness to one of the most notorious companies involved. “They made money out of chaos.”

The total cost of the Iraqi War to the USA so far is estimated to be over $500 billion (£250 billion). According to a US Congressional Budget Office report published in October 2007, the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion dollars by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because the combat is being financed with borrowed money. The CBO estimated that of the $2.4 trillion long-term price tag for the war, about $1.9 trillion of that would be spent on Iraq.

In comparison, the UK has invested around £5 billion ($10 billion) but this was sourced from an existing UK Government fund known as the “Special Reserve”.

To put this scale of expenditure in perspective, in 2005 the leaders of the G8 countries (the US, UK, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia) made now largely forgotten and broken pledges to donate a comparatively modest £25 billion ($50 billion) towards the elimination of poverty in the world’s poorest and most indebted countries…

The Oracle by Pete Wilder

Eurocritics writer Pete Wilder’s first book, The Oracle – Lost in Time, is a lavishly illustrated children’s adventure story and a Treasure Hunt for real cash prizes – if you can decode the clues.

The adventure is the story of two brothers, Richard, 14 and Jorden aged 5, who stumble upon a time machine in their father’s home laboratory and “accidentally” set off on an amazing journey backwards and forwards through space and time.

The Oracle, an adventure story and treasure hunt by Pete Wilder

Front cover art for Pete Wilder's book The Oracle

The Oracle treasure hunt is for a cash money prize fund, currently £1,000 and rising, based on the clues to be found in the book’s content, which includes the story, full colour illustrations by Ariel Gulluni and their accompanying poems or riddles. There is also a dedicated web site for The Oracle which has additional information on both the treasure hunt and the book itself.

The Oracle is primarily a Treasure Hunt. The reader has the opportunity to discover the whereabouts of a hidden token and claim a cash prize. Somewhere in the United Kingdom, a token is hidden in an area accessible to the general public. Within the pages of the book there are several clues as to the whereabouts of the token. The reader will take great pleasure in solving the clues that lead to the token. Readers can use the token to visit this website and claim the cash prize. The prize fund is displayed online and increases with the sales of the book. For every copy of the book sold, £1.00 will be donated to the prize fund. The minimum prize fund will be guaranteed to be £1,000.

Illustration of Russia by Ariel Gullini

Russia

There’s also a good fun children’s adventure here as the brothers travel to the Moon, the distant future, ancient Egypt and Greece, Communist Russia, the Roman Empire, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and many more historically important points in time, including a surprise encounter with The Oracle himself…

The Oracle

Einstein

The Oracle is a charming adventure story for kids, the treasure hunt’s clues will baffle and/or stretch the mind of all keen problem solvers – with a little lateral thinking – and a welcome addition to both genres.

Skynet Revisited

The launch of the third and final Skynet military communications satellite, originally scheduled for 30 May 2008–as reported here on Eurocritics–is now scheduled for Thursday, 12 June.

The original launch, on a heavy lift Ariane 5 rocket, was called off “after a software programming glitch was discovered during the final countdown”.

The upcoming flight will orbit a dual satellite payload of EADS Astrium’s Skynet 5C spacecraft for U.K.-based operator Paradigm, and the Thales Alenia Space-built Turksat 3A relay platform for Turksat of Turkey.

The Terminator Absolutely Will Not Stop!

The commercially and creatively successful Terminator (“one of the greatest movies ever” © Chris Rose) franchise moves into a new phase with the announcement that a new trilogy of movies has started production.

Los Angeles 2018 as seen in Terminator 4

Terminator 4 art

“Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins”, starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington and directed by movie and TV director/producer McG, began shooting last month in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale

According to Warner Bros, Terminator 4 is set in the near future of post-apocalyptic 2018, with top Welsh actor Christian Bale playing humanity’s saviour John Connor, again leading the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators.

Sam Worthington

Sam Worthington

This time, the future Connor was raised to believe in is partially altered by the mysterious appearance of Marcus Wright (rising Aussie star Sam Worthington), a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row.

Apparently Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

In addition to its Welsh and Australian stars, the film also stars a very geographically diverse cast including Russian born Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, Anglo-French hybrid Charlotte Gainsbourg as Kate Connor, South Korean American Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams, rapper/actor Common as Barnes, and the largely unknown newcomer Jadagrace as Star.

A Terminator

The Terminator

Terminator 4, as it will henceforth be known, will be the first of a new Terminator film trilogy and marks the latest installment of the multi-billion dollar Terminator franchise which, in addition to the three original movies, includes the TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles and various other properties. T4 is scheduled to premiere in the USA on May 22 next year.

In hopefully unrelated news, the UK Ministry of Defence has almost completed the setting up of the Skynet orbital battlefield communications network

Skynet Military Satellite Launches

The launch of a third and final UK military satellite, Skynet 5C, on the evening (UK time) of Friday 30 May 2008 from the European Space Centre in French Guiana on the Ariane 5 launch platform will complete the spaceside establishment of a major new high speed broadband communications network on behalf of the British Ministry of Defence.

Skynet 5

Skynet military satellite in orbit

Due to their geostationary orbits, the Skynet satellites will provide secure military communications between the UK and British forces deployed anywhere in the world for the next 15 years.

These satellites have technology that allows them to pinpoint communications on to particular regions of the world with absolute precision, and without interference,” explained Malcolm Peto from Paradigm Secure Communications, the company that runs Skynet. “You know the areas where British forces operate, and you can imagine the type of interference attempted. We can avoid that very simply, very clinically.

Skynet will also be used to route battlefield communications and commands between remote flying drones and provide welfare services such as free messages between service personnel on operations and their families and friends back home.

The Skynet SatComms System [Picture: DE&S]

the Skynet military communications system

1. Skynet 5 overhauls satellite communications for UK forces
2. The largely autonomous satellites talk to two UK ground stations
3. Skynet 5 supports high-bandwidth applications, such as UAV video
4. Antennas and terminals are upgraded to make best use of Skynet
5. New battlefield networks, such as Cormorant, feed into the system
6. System gives commanders access to more information, faster.

Once fully deployed the Skynet satellites are powered by huge solar arrays, giving the two metre satellites a total wingspan of 34 metres, the same as an Airbus. They are owned and operated by Paradigm, a subsidiary of the Astrium/European Aerospace and Defence Company, making them the first military spacecraft not owned by a governmental or international organisation.

This is the third of seven Ariane 5 launches planned for 2008. Astrium see the Ariane 5 as the “world’s reference for heavy-lift launchers, … carrying payloads weighing more than 9 metric tons to geostationary transfer orbit with a high degree of accuracy”.

Ariane 5 launch from Kourou, French Guiana

Ariane 5 blasts off

*LATE BREAKING NEWS* With one hour to go before launch, Arianespace have announced “During final pre-launch checks for the Ariane 5 ECA’s mission with Skynet 5C the result of a launcher software test was not nominal.

Therefore, Arianespace has decided to stop the launch countdown. The launch vehicle and the two payloads are in a safe condition.

A new date for the mission will be announced as soon as possible.”

Watch this space…

Champions League Final 2008

I was drinking when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray.

At last, the game of games is here. Forgive the bias but today’s the day the Soviet Cyborgs face off against the Euro-Latino Allstars from the Theatre of Dreams. Yes, it’s Chelsea v Manchester United for the right to be known as the champions of Europe for the next twelve months. It’s as much a clash of footballing philosophy: the best two teams in England – and history – will be made tonight.

At a distance of 1,500 miles the pitch looks okay but the English head groundsman says it is pretty bumpy. With the amount of rain there’s been in Moscow today this two week old turf is going to cut up badly, which favours Chelsea’s power over United’s art.

It’s game on and United get things going, playing 4-4-2 against Chelsea’s 4-5-1. Just for the record: Manchester United line up with Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo; Rooney, Tevez plus Kuszczak, Anderson, Giggs, Nani, O’Shea, Fletcher and Silvestre on the bench. Chelsea start with Cech; Essien, Terry, Carvalho, Ashley Cole; Malouda, Makelele, Ballack, Lampard, Joe Cole; Drogba and have Cudicini, Shevchenko, Mikel, Kalou, Alex, Belletti and Anelka as their substitutes.

Both teams make a fast start and there’s action at both ends right away. They’re both going for it full on tonight, no hedging the bets here. Both teams have scoring chances inside the first 7 minutes and anything could happen tonight scorewise. 0-0 just doesn’t look like an option.

Possibly in an attempt to blind United, Chelsea keeper Peter Cech is wearing a vicious fluorescent dayglow orange strip and looks like he’s been tangoed!

After 17 minutes a little flurry of handbags on the edge of the Chelsea penalty area leads to an even bigger spat between Scholes and Makelele which leaves both players getting a yellow card and, as we learn later, Scholes with a broken nose. The heat is on!

Chelsea may have been the first to draw blood but on 26 minutes United cause some serious damage to Chelsea’s dream of winning their first Champions League crown. A Wes Brown cross from the right flies into the the penalty area and who else but Ronaldo soars majestically above Chelsea’s defence and powers a beautifully judged and unstoppable header into the corner of Chelsea’s goal. 1-0 to the Red Devils!

Seven minutes later Chelsea almost equalise when a Drogba cross into the danger zone is headed goalwards by the normally reliable United captain Rio Ferdinand, but a stunning instinctive save from Van der Sar keeps the ball out.

United immediately break into Chelsea’s penalty area and have two great chances, from Tevez and Carrick, saved by Cech, who is proving beyond all doubt that he is the best goalie in the world right now.

Chelsea respond with repeated attempts to get the equaliser and with just seconds remaining of the first 45 minutes get a lucky break. Essien strikes a hit and hope shot into the United box which rebounds wildly off both Vidic and Ferdinand and lands at the feet of Lampard. His instinctive shot wrong foots Van der Sar who slips and the ball is in United’s net. It’s 1-1 and, going in to the break, the momentum has clearly swung Chelsea’s way.

United have had the best of the first half but that last minute Chelsea goal means they’ve ended up worst off. Sir Alex Ferguson has to restore confidence and get United to play to their own strengths again in the second half. Chelsea manager Avram Grant just has to keep the resurgent Blues doing what they have been doing since the kick off – try to contain United’s attacks and catch them on the break.

Fifteen minutes later Chelsea get the second half started but it’s United that start to play first, pressing Chelsea back and looking for a second goal. They can’t keep it going however and Chelsea gradually start to overwhelm the physically smaller United team.

For most of the next 40 minutes, Chelsea actually lay siege to the United goal and the Reds can barely get out of their own half. Try as they might though, Chelsea can’t get a goal, the closest they come being a 78th minute shot from nowhere by Drogba which beats Van der Sar but slams into the goalpost and away.

With 4 minutes left a new United appearances record was made when the already legendary Ryan Giggs came on for the broken-nosed Paul Scholes. It’s his 759th game for United and the previous record holder, Munich ’58 disaster survivor Sir Bobby Charlton, is the first to lead the applause.

Surprisingly, that was the first substitution of the entire match but was followed rapidly by the second with Chelsea replacing Malouda with Kalou. Then the whistle blows and it’s extra time in the pouring rain in Moscow.

The pace of the game has noticeably slowed as extra time gets started and Chelsea’s territorial dominance has gone, with chances coming at both ends. Chelsea’s best is Lampard hitting the bar with Van der Sar slipping again whilst United have a certain goal from Ryan Giggs blocked by an elastic necked header from John Terry.

After 8 minutes Chelsea make their second change, bringing on Anelka for Joe Cole, followed three minutes later by United replacing Wayne Rooney, who had had a relatively subdued match, with young Portuguese rising star Nani and that was about the last significant action of the first period of extra time.

With six minutes left in the match and penalties looming, a sudden bout of mystery handbags exploded which culminated in the ever temperamental Drogba slapping Vidic and getting sent off, which is pretty much the end of the game. Both managers made last minute substitutions with the penalty shootout in mind; Chelsea bringing on Belletti for Makelele and United swapping Anderson for Brown.

So it’s all over and now there’s the exquisite torture of the penalty shootout. Anything can happen and does!

It’s Tevez and Ballack in the first round and neither makes a mistake, followed by the equally successful Carrick and Belletti. Then comes the first error as Ronaldo tries his usual trick of pausing in the runup, hoping to induce Cech to dive. The world’s best goalie holds his ground and Ronaldo makes a weak shot which Cech easily saves. Is it all over for the Red Devils?

Hargreaves and Ashley Cole both score as does Nani for United and then John Terry strides purposefully forward. If the Chelsea captain scores it’s all over for United and I for one was sure the dream was over. Amazingly, Terry slips and, with Van der Sar going the wrong way, shoots wide onto the post. It’s 4-4 after the obligatory set of 5 penalties and now we’re into sudden death!

The dreadlocked Brazilian Anderson steps forward for United and makes no mistake, as does Kalou for Chelsea. Then it is the turn of the record breaking Ryan Giggs to score and the pressure lands on Chelsea striker Anelka. He strikes the ball well enough but it is at a comfortable height and Van der Sar saves it!

It’s all over and United are champions of Europe again. Awesome stuff as United celebrate wildly and Ronaldo collapses in tears.