And just like that, with two outrageously late goals in three incredible minutes, Real Madrid claimed their place in yet another Champions League final and broke Bayern Munich’s hearts in the process.

But, while there is no denying the incredible drama and controversy that unfolded at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, which team made it through to the final was little more than a side story for me, a mildly titillating subplot if you will.

Because the real story was whether the result of this game would finally give us confirmation of the working theory we have been debating all season: that Harry Kane is really a trophy jinx.

While there was even the remotest chance Bayern could win something, it would have been unfair to label the Kane curse as official. But their last chance evaporated in Spain in a cloud of offside nonsense, and Kane must now be really thinking it’s all down to him.

It seems the football gods had already decided before he even touched down in Munich that they would have one last laugh at the England captain’s expense

The England striker moved from Tottenham Hotspur last summer in a bid to end a personal trophy drought that has stretched, well, pretty much since birth. Despite scoring a million goals for Spurs over a decade, the medals never followed.

Hence his move to Bayern which, in terms of troubling the trophy cabinet, must surely have been as close as he could get to a sure thing.

The German giants had, after all, won the Bundesliga 11 times in a row and hadn’t failed to win a major trophy since 2011. Adding a striker capable of scoring 44 goals to that equation should have seen the silverware flowing like cheap beer in Munich around October.


They were knocked out of the German Cup by third-tier Saarbrucken, came up short in the Bundesliga thanks to the remarkable form of Bayer Leverkusen, and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the Champions League despite being seconds away from making the final.

It is genuinely hard not to feel sorry for Kane. He really couldn’t have done much more on a personal level to drag this underperforming Bayern team towards glory. But it seems like the football gods had already decided before he even touched down in Munich that they would have one last laugh at the England captain’s expense.

Please note I use the words “one last laugh” on purpose. Why? Because I am going to go ahead and make a wild prediction right here, right now: Kane will break the curse next season.

That’s not me trying to double down on the jinx. It’s just me playing the law of averages – there is no way a team of Bayern’s standing, stature and resources can go two seasons in a row without winning a trophy, even with Kane in the team.

You read it here first.


Redefining revenge

If you’re going to bear a grudge, do it properly.

That would appear to be the motto of former Port Vale player Ryan Burge who has, quite literally, taken the concept of being petty, vengeful and vindictive to whole new heights.

Burge was once Vale’s player of the year, but the relationship turned extremely sour after he was suspended (unjustly in his view) by the club for missing a team meal and followed that up by publicly criticising the manager.

That happened a decade ago and he never played for the club again.

But Burge has been using the intervening time wisely, namely by learning to fly. Why? So the next time Port Vale got relegated he could fly a banner over the ground celebrating their failure.

And that is precisely what he did when Vale’s relegation was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. But that’s not it. To make the whole story that much more devious, the cost of the flight was covered by supporters of Vale’s massive local rivals – Stoke City.

“Thank you to the Stoke City fans who paid me to do something I would have happily done for free. This is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Burge said on Facebook after touching down.


As I said at the beginning, this lad has taken bearing a grudge to a whole new level that will be hard for others to match – he has redefined the genre.

Having said that, he might want to think twice about making any sort of personal appearances at Vale Park for the next, I don’t know, 50 or 60 years maybe...


The great unwanted

Leaking the news that your entire squad is up for sale may not have been the smartest move a football club has ever made, especially when there are still games left to be played in the season.

Last week, Manchester United essentially said they would be having a mass clear-out in the summer, with only three of the team not available for transfer. Hindsight now suggests this may not have been a move of unbridled genius.

You can imagine the sort of mental unrest this announcement would have caused in the dressing room, and that uncertainly was on show in all its glory when they subsequently got spanked 4-0 by Crystal Palace.

Yes, injuries played a part in the defeat, and the fact that United’s central defence consisted of a 36-year-old journeyman and a Brazilian who has entirely forgotten how to play football didn’t help.

But I am pretty sure knowing, almost to a man, they were not loved or wanted by the club was a massive contributing factor to the mauling.

Can Erik Ten Hag pick up the pieces and get them to raise their game for today’s clash with Arsenal and then the FA Cup final against Manchester City? Who knows?

The bigger question is whether he will even be bothered enough to try because, like most of his team, Ten Hag knows his Old Trafford days are numbered.

I’m reasonably certain that Ten Hag, the players and all but the most blindly optimistic of the club’s fans would be perfectly happy if this sorry, insipid season was brought to an end right now.

If ever a club needed a fresh start...



Twitter: @maltablade

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