Mancs emerge as top dogs in Moscow
ItÃ¢ÂÂs 3.25am on Thursday morning and IÃ¢ÂÂm stood alone in the massive square outside MoscowÃ¢ÂÂs garish, scruffy Belorusskaya train station.
IÃ¢ÂÂve just exited the superb metro system, which the authorities kept open until 4am for the benefit of the travelling United and Chelsea fans. Security has been tight but effective - IÃ¢ÂÂve not seen one incident of trouble during three days in the Russian capital.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs raining heavily, IÃ¢ÂÂve got no coat and IÃ¢ÂÂm exhausted. Two hours ago, I witnessed my team lift a third European Cup. IÃ¢ÂÂve never been so nervous watching a game. Never. The match had everything and the experience was life affirming. But now I just want my bed.
Mentally, IÃ¢ÂÂm drained. How can watching a game of football take so much?
Physically, IÃ¢ÂÂve gone. The beer, fast food and lack of sleep havenÃ¢ÂÂt helped, nor has playing in an 11-a-side match for Manchester United fans against Spartak Moscow equivalents at their training ground stadium five hours before the final.
Andrei Kanchelskis, the Russian media and 400 Spartak fans watched us go down 3-1. Not a bad result since weÃ¢ÂÂd never played together, and not bad for supposedly dodgy Anglo-Russian relations either. The hospitality from our hosts was first class.
Man United in Moscow: Good times had by all
IÃ¢ÂÂm due to fly in five hours and need some sleep if IÃ¢ÂÂm going to carry on living, even if itÃ¢ÂÂs for two hours. Raffish mates made of sterner stuff have gone to the playersÃ¢ÂÂ after match party. TheyÃ¢ÂÂd get where water wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt.
IÃ¢ÂÂve just said goodbye to two Doncaster Reds, a dad and lad who will sleep rough in the station before catching a 20-hour train back to Berlin and a flight to England. They only arrived on the morning of the match after a train from Warsaw.
IÃ¢ÂÂm now alone but only five minutes from my hotel, virtually the last leg of a problem free trip. But my passage is blocked Ã¢ÂÂ by a dog.
MoscowÃ¢ÂÂs authorities estimate that 30,000 strays populate the city and that many of them congregate around metro stations. A local quoted in The Guardian said: "Some of them even go up and down the escalators."
This mutt is snarling at me. Maybe itÃ¢ÂÂs a Scouse dog and the Ã¢ÂÂScouse Free ZoneÃ¢ÂÂ flag in the Chelsea end of the Luzhniki Stadium was wrong. If I move, it growls. ItÃ¢ÂÂs as if my bag is full of aniseed and not a dirty football kit and final memorablia. Like a Mastercard pen.
The beast looks more like a cross between a wolf and hyena and IÃ¢ÂÂm flummoxed as what to do. I try to edge away, but the hound has none of it and barks so loud that workmen 100 metres away look over. I canÃ¢ÂÂt speak Russian, so I can hardly shout for help.
With my brain ceasing to function, I consider improbable solutions. Like calling Ji Sung Park and getting him to come and eat the mongrel. But Park is probably doing an early morning marathon as his team-mates celebrate by singing - seriously - French house music. And I donÃ¢ÂÂt have his number.
Or by booting it harder than Anderson hit his penalty. But the bitch would end up in Serbia if I did that. And IÃ¢ÂÂd end up in a Siberian salt mine as punishment.
So I wait and shuffle nervously, like Ronaldo before he takes a penalty. And like Cristiano Ã¢ÂÂI stayÃ¢ÂÂ Ronaldo, IÃ¢ÂÂm eventually saved by someone else, a doleful looking local whom the whelp finds more interesting.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a dog eat dog world. Just ask John Terry.