16 Conclusions from the Champions League Final

· 1) The archetypal Ryan Giggs performance. Again, an assist disguised the fact that his contribution is perennially overstated.

· 2) I’m not altogether sure that I’m interested in a world in which Edwin van der Sar is a former footballer.

· 3) That said, he screwed up for the first two goals. Particularly, the positioning on the first was uncharacteristically poor.

· 4) Rooney’s shitty Roy of the Rovers complex is one of the reasons he will never be a great player.

· 5) Park’s effectiveness as a defensive forward plummeted as the game wore on – in the first half he attempted five tackles and made three interceptions, in the second half that fell to one apiece.

· 6) Ferguson made a mistake in deploying acclaimed 2010 Cuban jazz animation Chico & Rita up front with Rooney.

· 7) Xavi and Messi will understandably take all the plaudits, but Ibrahim Afellay was the real star of the match with a 100% pass completion rate.

· 8) Dani Alves is descended from velociraptors.

· 9) Manchester United did that Football Manager thing where a CPU-controlled team scores their only shot on target against the vastly superior human-controlled team. A small victory.

· 10) Something about Cesc Fábregas.

· 11) For such a bad loser, Alex Ferguson was unusually magnanimous in the immediate aftermath.

· 12) It’s probably a little early to be making grand statements about this Barça side’s place in the pantheon. Like with Messi’s status among the greats, we need to wait until they’re history before we can put them in historical context.

· 13) A joke about Busquets.

· 14) Carrick was pretty good.

· 15) Valencia didn’t trouble Abidal nearly enough, but he did show himself to be all kinds of menacing badass.

· 16) Watching Nemanja Vidić cry was as heartbreaking as it was unexpected. Like watching liquid amber ooze from a granite cliff-face.

Subverting the Pyramid

Since Inverting The Pyramid was published there’s been an increase in the number of football tactics blogs. For a while, and perhaps to an extent it’s still the case, talking about formations and strategies was a mark of the well-informed football fan.

In football writing, though, not only does every action have its reaction but every reaction has its angry and unreasonable backlash. Sure enough, no sooner had tactics become vogue than they became the hollow preserve of the elitist, the soulless and the pretentious. Then those uninterested in tactical analysis became, in turn, mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers with nothing to say about football beyond “I liked the bit when the ball went in the goal”. In the centre of it all lies the idea that someone is losing sight of what football is really about.

So what is football really about? Is it entertainment? Art? Is it drama, science, comedy, narrative or romance? It’s all of these things, and it’s none of them. There are a billion different sides to football and a million angles from which to survey each of them. That’s what football blogging is for. One aspect may, however briefly, become more popular than the others, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only aspect, or that anyone would wish it to be so. Yes, it’s unfair for tactics bloggers to view others as gormless Neanderthals (though I’ve yet to encounter one who does), but it’s equally unfair to paint anyone as sterile and aloof just because their chosen interest involves more chalkboards than highlights reels (or whatever).

It’s a shame, anyway, that the breadth and diversity that can make the football blogging experience - and if I ever describe it as a “rich tapestry” you have my permission to forcibly remove me from the Internet – so interesting and progressive is often drowned out by sniping and sneering over who’s taking football too seriously, and who isn’t taking it seriously enough.

We'll never lose sight of what football is really about, because football is about everything.

Team of the Season

The best players in the Premier League were so immediately obvious that we didn't even need to watch any football after November. Congratulations to Chelsea.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Yet to concede a goal in his professional career, Hart is already the world’s best goalkeeper and, given that injuries and losses of form never happen to English keepers, will be in the Team of the Season for the next ten years.

Right-back: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Easily the world’s best player until the invention of Barcelona in February 2010, Rooney has the drive, passion and commitment to play in any position on the pitch, or even two positions at once.

Centre-back: Jonny Evans (Manchester United)

Sir Alex Ferguson faced a difficult choice in 2008 over which young centre-back to sell. Boy, did he ever make the right choice.

Centre-back: Dr Richard Stearman (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Contributed hugely to Wolves staying in the Premier League last season, as well as maintaining his own status as the world’s leading authority on knee surgery.

Left-back: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

Well, duh.

Right-midfield: Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

So good in the first half of the season that it is literally impossible for that form not to be replicated for the next six months/ten years.

Central midfield: Stephen Ireland (Aston Villa)

Swapping him and six billion pounds for James Milner was such a stupid move that Roberto Mancini should be immediately fired. Anyone who thinks this anything other than a brilliant Villa wheeze is a fucking moron.

Central midfield: Yaya Touré (Manchester City)

The lung-splitting intensity of Ireland will need to be balanced out, and for this we need look no further than Touré, the most conservative of Roberto Mancini’s trademark eight holding midfielders. Though he joined from Barcelona he doesn’t have the technique of Spain’s Xavi Iniesta, and he’s unlikely to pop up with a crucial goal, but the dour Ivorian wardrobe fits in perfectly with Manchester City’s catenaccio (Italian for “defending a one-goal lead”).

Left-midfield: Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United)

Signed for a handful of dinero from French lower-leaguers Olympique Marseillaise, Ben Arfa was something of an unknown quantity until he scored a goal, whereafter he became a hotshot young maverick set for the very top, top of the world game.

That Crucial Position In The Hole Behind The Striker: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Told you.

Striker: Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

Scored a hat-trick on the opening day as Chelsea beat West Bromwich Albion 6-0 on their way to winning the Premier League title in August.

Manager: Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa)

Fiercely loyal, O’Neill is never one to back away from a challenge. The fact that Aston Villa have among the highest wage bills and net transfer outlays in the league shows just how big a club they have become under the Ulsterman’s stewardship. His revolutionary “cut inside and swing a deep cross toward the back stick” strategy has helped mark O’Neill as one of the great tactical minds of the twenty-first century.