It is difficult to know what came as the biggest shock at Old Trafford last night. It was a rum one, that's for sure. Rooney wasn't selected. Mourinho was humble (but it's an arrogant humility, isn't it?). Fergie sent Phelan up to talk to the press - although part of me wondered whether he wasn't back in the home dressing-room slowly spit-roasting the ref over the flames of his fury. And most alarmingly of all, a United player was sent off AT OLD TRAFFORD!
I actually cannot remember that ever happening. It's as rare as a Blair apology. Or a Prime Minister in Primark. It wouldn't happen in the Premier League, but maybe these Turkish officials don't know the rules.
As for the facts, well, I don't think there was much in it. I wouldn't have given him a yellow cos there was no malice in it. Peter Crouch pretty much kicked Matt Taylor's head into the top tier last weekend and no one seemed bothered. Nani was clearly a tad concerned which was why he stayed down like a roped steer for a good two minutes. Arbeloa made the most of it and despite being
the least gifted footballer on the park, managed to make the most significant contribution to the game by getting kicked.
Roy Keane was adamant that the decision was correct. He insisted that a lack of malice is neither here nor there, which is presumably why Roy's challlenges were always malicious. I mean you might as well break a limb if you're going to get sent off anyway. Strictly speaking, Keane was right. And to be fair his punditry makes a pleasant change from the lukewarm feyness of Southgate and Townsend.
Townsend was at his worst last night. If there was a missed opportunity it was down to a striker not quite hitting when he should, or taking the extra touch, or NOT taking the extra touch. Still when you remember the lethal strike rate that Andy mustered during his professional carrer you'll realise how much wisdom he has on the subject. It's like having a jumped-up public schoolboy tell you how to run your state education. Townsend is the master of instantaneous hindsight. It's not a compliment to say he makes it seem like anyone could do his job.
It's hard to feel sorry for Ferguson - and yet last night I did. It felt a bit like shedding a tear for an old silverback who's been terrorising the jungle for years. But nevertheless the red card was pivotal and you could understand his rage.
In the first half, United looked pretty comfortable and Welbeck, for the first time I could remember, looked a like grown man, rather than the gangling foal I'm used to seeing.
Ronaldo looked becalmed, as if deference to the place where he learnt his trade was inhibiting him. Vidic looked back to his best. Rafael belied his childlike, almost Pokemon-like apearance with bags of energy and authority, and Madrid didn't look like much really.
Of course the red card ignores the fact that after Ramos had poked the ball past Diego Lopez - a kind of Spanish refuse collector with dustbin-lid hands - Real picked up the pace of things and looked very like having the rest of the match. Nani's dismissal deprived United of a dangerous counter-attacker, and the Portuguese was having one of those mights when he looked more likely to threaten the oppostion net that the fans behind it.
So England will not have a representative in the quarter-finals unless Arsenal can call up Derren Brown for the away leg in Munich. And it's fair to say that just about represents where the standard of the Premier League is now. While we like to go on about it being the best league in the world, it doesn't produce the best teams. United wouldn't be winning the Premier League at a canter if the quality was high.
At times it produces the dourest football. Stoke City fans will tell you they like to keep it on the deck. They do. They keep it on the top deck, somewhere around Crouchy's eyebrows.
Germany and Spain look like they've got much better club sides - with far more natives in them - and with far less money shelled out by the fans to watch them. In other words the Premier League is pretty shoddy value at the moment.
As for Wayne Rooney, well... it's been coming. He's very good, Wazza. Very good. But when he lines up with a true great like Ronaldo or Van Persie, you realise that his very best is not going to beat that. Of course the thing is, when he terrorised teams at the age of 16, we assumed we'd got an utter genius. And what's worrying about the lad - apart from the hair which looks like it's been removed from a horses arse and just stuck on there - is that he is not a vastly better player now than he was in 2004.
You could say that the lad has been played in all sorts of positions since Fergie bagged him from Everton. I think that he's never going to be the great of the game that we hoped he might be but I'd stick him in the Scholes role (the original one, not the relaxed armchair one he has now) and forget about him being an out-and-out striker.
I've no doubt his future at United is secure.
Which is not something I could say for a certain Turkish referee. Hopefully Sir Alex is coming to terms with defeat this morning. But it makes me cross. How could he do that to Fergie. He's an old, frail man. As if.