The biggest heroes of the Super League's collapse

21 April 2021 06:00

Well, I'm not sure the Super League billionaires saw this one coming.

On Sunday, football had its heart ripped from its chest, as 12 very rich men decided they knew what the people really wanted: A sport where the little guy is irrelevant and doesn't deserve a place at the big table.

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It's all quite poetic, then, that the collective little guy has stood up to that dozen fat cats over the past 72 hours and made them realise just how important each and every individual is, no matter how much money they have.

Another victory for the underdog - just how we like it. But with the Super League spluttering to its last breaths, and the 12 cowardly clubs attempting to disappear from sight like Homer Simpson retreating into a hedge, 90min takes a look at the real heroes behind the competition's demise.

1. The fans

Sticking it to the billionaires | Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Come on, everyone, give yourselves a round of applause! It's fair to say the football world has never been so united in support of one cause. Even (and especially) the fans of the clubs involved were outraged, and they protested against the Super League in their thousands.

The relentless barrage of abuse which came the proposal's way on social media and on the streets gave the founders a glimpse into their future, and they quickly realised they had massively misread the room.

We may have won for now, but these wounds caused by our beloved football clubs will take some time to heal.

2. Gary Neville & Jamie Carragher

Gary Neville has arguably been the most influential man during this whole debacle. He was one of the first to stand against his own club and the other breakaway sides, and was not afraid to speak his mind from the off.

His rants have been captivating, and along with fellow pundit Jamie Carragher, they have overshadowed the actual football with their determination to end this nightmare.

The duo are the best in the business for analysis, and their hearts are in the right place, too.

3. Bayern Munich & Borussia Dortmund

The organisers wanted 15 founding members, but they came to the table with only 12. No doubt they would have wanted Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to join them on the dark side.

Fortunately for us, none of these teams budged. Bayern and Dortmund immediately spoke out against the tournament, leaving the dirty dozen looking very foolish indeed.

A Super League without last season's two Champions League finalists? What's so 'super' about it then?

4. Leeds United

Leeds United are known for their s**thousery and are widely unpopular, but they became everyone's number two team on Monday night. Prior to their clash with Liverpool, or the 'Merseyside Reds', as the Whites referred to their opponents, the players wore shirts with the words 'Earn It' emblazoned across them.

It was a reference to the integrity of our sport, and they didn't let us down by earning a point against the Super League wannabes. Leeds even left the same shirts in Liverpool's dressing room prior to the game, but the Reds didn't don the controversial jersey.

We knew you wouldn't miss the opportunity to cause trouble, lads.

5. James Milner

Does anyone not love James Milner? The bloke is a class act on and off the pitch and a model professional, so when he speaks, we listen. The experienced midfielder was asked for his thoughts on the Super League after Liverpool's draw with Leeds, and he was as frank as you could imagine.

"I don't like it and I hope it doesn't happen," was his message to the Liverpool owner and the rest of the world. It was a groundbreaking moment for a player likely to be involved in the competition to speak out, and we all cheered from our sofas.

Cheers James, for having the cojones to fight the power.

6. Pep Guardiola

If Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp had sat on the fence somewhat during their pre-match interviews, Pep Guardiola was having none of it. The Manchester City boss defied the decision of his owners, and went as far as to say that the Super League 'is not sport'.

That message gave a clear indicator to the higher powers over exactly what the football world thinks of their dastardly schemes, and it wasn't long before others found the courage to speak out.

Guardiola has revolutionised football in England over the past half-decade, and he's just gone the extra mile to help save it, too.

7. Harry Maguire & Luke Shaw

Heroes in red | OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Harry Maguire gets a lot of stick for having a big head and not being a graceful swan around the pitch, but everyone should lay off the bloke. He's Manchester United captain - and he has shown exactly why.

The defender confronted executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward over his decision to lead the Red Devils into this Super League without even consulting the players, and his anger contributed to the chief resigning.

Man Utd fans will forever be in your debt for that one, Harry. Shout out to Luke Shaw too, who also spoke passionately on the subject.

8. Jordan Henderson

Captain Fantastic | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Jordan Henderson is a superb man. The Liverpool star sent out the captain-signal to round up all the leaders for the second time in 12 months, this time to fight crime, rather than raise money for the NHS.

His meeting at the round table of captains sparked others into action, and he also led a campaign in which all of the Liverpool squad aired their grievances at the same time on social media.

When you need to stand together, you want Hendo by your side. A proper leader.

9. Nasser Al-Khelaifi

The least popular hero in history | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

This one's a bit of a hard sell, but here goes. Yes, Nasser Al-Khelaifi is on the UEFA committee, and yes, the Super League goes against all of his best financial interests.

And with Paris Saint-Germain still in the Champions League, the threat of expulsion would hit them hard. But at least, this more than unsavoury character didn't follow the money, for once.

Yeah, even I'm struggling to justify this one.

10. Stoke City

Let's put our hands together for the teams that you love to hate! Yes, Stoke-on-Trent is not the nicest city in England, and the bet365 stadium was once described by a close friend as 'the coldest place he'd ever visited in his life' - and he'd travelled to the highest point in Europe.

But that's why we love football. We put ourselves through the lesser-fancied trips and follow our team through the wind and rain, and that just makes the European nights under the lights that little bit more special.

Top dollar steak is a treat, but have it three times a day, seven days a week, and you'll soon find yourself craving a Big Mac instead. So thanks Stoke, and every other team that makes your travelling football experience absolutely torturous.

Source: 90min