Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gatecrashers out to Spoil the Party

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gatecrashers out to Spoil the Party

Article excerpt


IT was Real Madrid's birthday and the party was going to be swell. To celebrate the day of their 100th anniversary, the world's greatest club had reached the final of the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Cup, and, amid intolerable pomp and hype, were going to lift it in front of their home supporters in their Bernabeu cathedral.

That, at least, was the script until Deportivo La Coruna last Wednesday indulged in the most audacious bit of party pooping since Johnny Rotten and his boys crooned their version of God Save the Queen on a boat trip down the Thames on silver jubilee night.

After losing 2-1, Madrid wailed, as if utterly affronted that anyone would dare to rain on their parade, while the rest of the nation thought the humbling of that impossibly self-satisfied mob was good reason for their own party.

Yet to Javier Irureta and his La Coruna team, the significance of the triumph was having provided more evidence they no longer have to be burdened with a hint of an inferiority complex during their rise into Europe's magic circle of elite clubs.

They've had the reputation of travelling with about as flimsy a constitution as Arsenal's, but if you can beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and Madrid at the Bernabeu, then

why worry about Highbury?

Irureta said: "What I want to see at Arsenal is the Deportivo that I saw in Madrid. In other words, trying to dominate the match and playing the way we know - controlling the game.

"Last week's win has given us much more security. We know if we have the same attitude and conviction, we can win anywhere, even under a lot of pressure and in an atmosphere which is against us."

Like Arsene Wenger, Irureta is undemonstrative and thoughtful but there's a confidence about both men's current pronouncements which identifies real belief in their respective ambitions of fashioning a Treble-winning season.

Flash back to last November and this seemed unthinkable when Wenger, sitting in the press room at Deportivo's Riazor Stadium, looked and sounded as morose as we've ever seen him after his Arsenal team had been quite outplayed. …

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