IÃ¢ÂÂd just left home for the 12-day trip to South Africa. Literally walked down the street, past BarcelonaÃ¢ÂÂs Botafumeiro seafood restaurant, where a day earlier Adriano Galliani, Silvio BerlusconiÃ¢ÂÂs right-hand man at Milan, had concluded the deal to take Ronaldinho to Italy with BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs under fire President Joan Laporta and the buck-toothed Brazilian himself.
Manchester CityÃ¢ÂÂs influence in European football has been so limited for over three decades that when Continental fans talk about Ã¢ÂÂManchesterÃ¢ÂÂ they mean United, but CityÃ¢ÂÂs bid for Ronaldinho was more substantial than MilanÃ¢ÂÂs and the Italians had to raise their offer by Ã¢ÂÂ¬5m to Ã¢ÂÂ¬21m.
IÃ¢ÂÂve interviewed Ronaldinho over a dozen times and always got on well with him so IÃ¢ÂÂm sad to see him go. He was unquestionably worthy of the many individual honours bestowed upon him, but Ronnie and the side he played for are a shadow of their 2006 world beating best. And we shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be surprised heÃ¢ÂÂs left given BarÃÂ§aÃ¢ÂÂs history of losing their best players from Maradona to Ronaldo.
Ronnie ties up Milan move, accompanied by his minders
Kate Moss spent a lot of time in Barcelona when things came on top for her in Britain a few years ago and she used to lunch daily in Botafumeiro. I never did catch up with the Croydon waif to discuss the uneasy juxtaposition of stands at Selhurst Park, but I did eat there once.
Yet with prawns costing about ÃÂ£9 each (cue original Ã¢ÂÂprawn sandwichÃ¢ÂÂ comments from weapons whoÃ¢ÂÂve got no idea about Manchester UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs match-going culture) and that being before the pound became weaker than LiverpoolÃ¢ÂÂs title challenges in the last 18 years, IÃ¢ÂÂve swerved it since.
The text came a minute after IÃ¢ÂÂd walked past the fabled restaurant. Ã¢ÂÂIts Mani mate,Ã¢ÂÂ it said. Ã¢ÂÂIm in barca and thought you might want the scoop of the w3k. Im playing 4 roses tunes with him for the 1st time in yonks. Could be a good interview opportunity geeza. Hope u r well. X. Mani.Ã¢ÂÂ
My acquaintance with popular music stars is limited, though I did once sit behind Bonnie Langford on a flight back from the Faroe Islands. And play for Paul HeatonÃ¢ÂÂs football team in December. But the Mani, of Stones Roses and Primal Scream fame, is a United fan and IÃ¢ÂÂve known him for years. And the Ã¢ÂÂhimÃ¢ÂÂ in the text is Ian Brown. The pair are playing in Barcelona this weekend. Ã¢ÂÂI would love to,Ã¢ÂÂ I replied. Ã¢ÂÂBut IÃ¢ÂÂm on the way to the airport to see United in South Africa.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂHave a good one. Champions of Europe,Ã¢ÂÂ he replied. So IÃ¢ÂÂll miss out on the interview, but any Stone Roses fans reading may be interested.
When I started this blog, the editor said: Ã¢ÂÂIf you have an hour in an airport then I want you to write a blog.Ã¢ÂÂ Six months on and this is my first blog written in an airport, terminal 2E of Charles De Gaulle (the Frenchman who once played a support striker role in Billy the Fish in Viz).
My flight to Johannesburg leaves in 30 minutes and from there I'll take another to Cape Town. IÃ¢ÂÂll go straight from the airport to Manchester UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs first training session, watch Louis Saha get injured if heÃ¢ÂÂs made the trip, pick up my accreditation, meet the photographer and then finally go to the hotel, 25 hours after walking past BotafumeiroÃ¢ÂÂ¦
"Crap, which one's going to South Africa..."
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