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No, you can't Murray love.

Byline: Michael Calvin


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No, you can't Murray love

BIRDS didn't fly backwards. Locusts refused to swarm. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse sent a sicknote.

Life, in the light of Andy Murray's elimination from Wimbledon, was pretty good, all things considered.

No one had to be coaxed down from the ledge or scraped off the ceiling.

Only secondary ticketing executives - spivs by any other name - were mortified by his failure to reach today's final of the Gentlemen's Singles Championship at the All England Club.

It cost them a fortune, and we will smile bravely through their pain.

It leaves us free to concentrate on Michael Owen living his 22 brand values in that abomination of a Manchester United shirt.

It gives us the chance to decide whether Fergie has had a senior moment or a searing insight into the human condition.

It gives us the opportunity to reaffirm a sacred principle of British sport.

Football, for all its casual obscenities, is a full-blown national obsession. Can't live with it, can't live without it.

Tennis is a bit of fluff for the chattering classes. Here today, gone tomorrow.

The cheerleaders who decreed that Murray is the natural heir to Sir Alf's Boys of Summer have delusions of grandeur.

The urchins in Armani suits who tried to tell us he'll be worth pounds 100million by Christmas are probably in therapy. The image consultants who intend to Build It Like Beckham have retreated to Powerpoint Heaven.

The LTA, who will continue to waste other people's money with a range of achingly hip attempts to crack the yoof market, are off the hook.

Murray will continue to do what he does best. Ignore the hype, stoke the inner fires, treat social butterflies with contempt.

His sense of detachment, his refusal to succumb to selfimportance or self-pity, earmarks him as a major champion in the making.

The BBC will probably make him their Sports Personality of the Year but, as Diana Ross sang, you can't hurry love.

We've given Murray a football nickname, Muzza, but he doesn't connect because it's a one-way deal.

He feeds us scraps - tales of jolly japes with his so solid crew on the practice court - and we give him credibility, up to a point. We will never warm to Owen. He's a little too antiseptic, calculating, superficial.

But we will never dismiss him in the way we have already pushed Murray to the margins.

Owen has nowhere to hide but nothing to lose. The scars of the shotgun marriage to Freddy Shepherd, and the dysfunctional Toon family, will fade.

Fergie simply picked up a free lottery ticket blowing down Sir Matt Busby Way when he signed the lost soul of the English game.

Forget that infamous 34-page promotional brochure, which gave Owen the dignity of a tin of dog food. It deserves to be recycled as kitty litter.

Owen will be rotated, rested, rehabilitated. His instincts are infinitely more robust than his fragile frame.

He made the right runs off the shoulder of the last defender on the intermittent occasions he was fit to play for Newcastle, but was lumbered with team-mates on another wavelength.

It was the difference between watching digital and analogue TV. One is High Definition, razor sharp. The other is dull, dated, doomed.

I'd bet that Owen will score 15 goals next season, and be hailed as Fergie's best piece of business since Eric Cantona.

I'd also have a modest flutter on Murray winning the US Open in September. We will pause for applause, and return to pondering the meaning of sporting life.

Who's going to stop Real Madrid winning the Champions League?


SO CLOSE BUT SO FAR: But Andy Murray looks a champion in the making
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 5, 2009
Next Article:STAR LETTER.

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