Fergie’s Franco-fest sparks Spanish cyberspace storm

For a few soiling seconds on Tuesday evening, La Liga Loca had the experience of how it must feel to be a Manchester United fan. And what a very disturbing moment it was, too. That needed much scrubbing.

The root cause of this sorry sensation were the comments by Fergie that “Real Madrid, as Franco’s club, had a history of being able to get whoever and whatever they wanted before democracy came to Spain.”

Franco vs Fergie, Fascism vs Socialism

Now the blog isn’t going to poke its political pole into the historical honey-trap being set by the Oracle of Old Trafford; that would require insight, maturity, rationality and reason. Four things that, the last time the blog checked, it wasn’t in possession of.

What Sir Alex’s allegations to GQ did mean was that the blog would be able to swerve the eye-gougingly dull topics currently dominating the Spanish sports news agenda. Namely...

a) are Barcelona even dreamier than the Dream Team?b) is there a global refereeing conspiracy against Real Madrid?c) have Bernd Schuster and Sergio Ramos kissed and made up?d) isn’t the Copa del Rey exciting?

But, in order to fulfil the news requirements of today’s edition the answers, in brief, are...

a) ‘No’, say Pep and Txiki. ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ say Sport and Mundo Deportivob) ‘Don’t be silly’, say Marca. ‘We need to ask Ramón Calderòn what to think first’ say AS.c) ‘Yes’ say AS, who printed an imaginary conversation between the two parties. All that was missing was Sun-style speech bubbles and Bernd Schuster lounging around in his lingerie. And 'yes' says Michel Salgado in an interview in Marca that required at least seven, yes, seven journalists.d) No. No it isn’t.

The lack of Raúl in the debate means that the editorial pages of the two Madridista papers are still in a bit of a tizz over what to think about the Sir Alex’s slurs, aside from Roberto Gomez noting that his words were ‘defamatory’.

However, this reticence is not shared by the ranting readership of Marca’s website.

The defining factor of politics in Spain is that you are generally either for or against something. None of your Trevor Brooking-style fence-sitting and issue-chewing, thank you very much. The country is pretty much split down the middle between Left and Right with the two twains rarely meeting, except for a cheeky beer once in wee while.

"No harm in leaning on a fence. Or is there?"

Combine this scenario with the fanaticism of football and you have a headier cocktail than anything Ronaldinho could ever dream up.

For this reason, the United manager’s comments are the number one story on the paper’s website and has racked up, at the time of writing, 849 comments. And, as to be expected, the very, very, very brief sampling of the Marca readers musings suggest that Fergie is completely wrong. Or completely right.

“It’s disgusting, it shows a lack of respect for its fans,” says one peed-off poster. “If Madrid say Raúl for Spain, then he has to play for Spain. They think that if they keep saying Ronaldo will come to Madrid, then the English should drop their trousers... isn’t this Francoist thinking?” said one ready-to-explode reader.

Despite the never-ending circles in which the debate will spin around like Paolo Assunçao on a football pitch, it beats having to discuss the two-legged non-tussles between Benidorm and Barcelona, Portugalate and Valencia...

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