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Leading article: Friends reunited

It is the time of year when convention dictates that families must come back together, sometimes with explosive consequences. So there is something wonderfully seasonal about the outcome of yesterday's draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League football tournament.

Talk about an awkward Premier League family reunion. The Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson makes a natural curmudgeonly grandfather figure. Inter Milan's Jose Mourinho plays the part of the arrogant son. Liverpool's Rafa Benitez is the unflappable, methodical mother. Then there's the black sheep (Real Madrid's Juande Ramos) and, finally, the much-loved and perennially clowning uncle (Juventus's Claudio Ranieri).

The difference is that this dysfunctional family will not be forced back together for Christmas, but in February. What a heartwarming treat for the rest of us to look forward to over the frosty weeks ahead.