What a queer compote of the sacred and the profane ITV’s coverage of the Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich game served up last night.
It began with a hushed, awe-struck, announcement that not only had Mr. Wayne Rooney been delivered from physio purgatory into the squad, but - saints preserve us! - he would be starting the game. What trickery was this? What elusive, mystical manoeuvrings had outwitted the logic to which the sporting world had been so naively clinging?
Steve Rider was not backed by choirs of angels, but they were not required. The anchor’s wide-eyed wonder was evangelical enough. So, should all the hardcore atheists, as one, run for cover? Could this single, miraculous occurrence, dispel the papal paedophilia outrage, and dig poor, beleaguered Joe Ratzinger out of a hole?
Somehow, the lame had been made whole again, and we were left wondering whether Old Trafford might become the new Lourdes. Could lengths of yellow and green acrylic emerge as holy relics for the modern age?
But all this worshipping was merely foreplay. What followed was the creation of a new erotic genre: ankle porn. Already aroused with wonder, the viewers were treated to endless, lingering shots of the the sacred soft-tissue, of those unburstable blood vessels. There it was, actually functioning, treading the expectant turf, intercut with shots of its resurrected owner suspended somewhere between beatitude and orgasm.
Even when, during the game, he appeared to suffer the same trauma as the previous week - the money shot, surely - we were shown almost balletic footage of limbs entwining in soft-focus slow-mo. Despite being reduced to a limp spectator, the disciples still rhapodised his impact at half-time - it appears that his assist for the opening goal could not have been performed by any of the other Man Utd players, and hence his inclusion had been a wise one.
Only Sir Alex threatened to undermine the magic when revealing that, actually, the injury had been a mild one, and the medical team had, whilst operating purely within the realms of science, assisted its recovery. What a party pooper, eh! What a Judas!