What a week in football that was, hey? Young, fearless and daring soon became young and inexperienced in the Europa League final, didn’t it?
Let’s be honest, there was no chance that Jose was going to allow himself to be beaten by a bunch of kids, no matter how talented they were. And the end result was a match where Maroune Fellaini strolled around looking like the adult kicking about with the under 10’s side. The match itself had minimal talking points, which is a shame considering I have a column to fill. Pogba went someway to repaying his transfer fee by scoring the goal that pretty much guaranteed United would be playing Champions League football next season. Sure, they’ve taken the long way round but with two trophies (which, by sheer association, means two finals for the real fans to go and watch) that is a much more fun way of doing it than sneaking into 4th place. Well, in my humble opinion anyway.
The coverage of the match was a little more curious, with Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand appearing to be watching two entirely different matches. Mind you, I don’t think Owen has been on the same wavelength as anyone at all since he lost his pace. The best bit of the day for me was the referee’s boots. Black Copa Mundials. That’s the way to officiate a final, you get instant respect from anyone over the age of 30.
Post match, it was a little bit like a PR exercise to make the world believe that all this was part of a cunning Manchester United plan. Of course! The only reason they chose to play Europa League football this season was so that they could win the one remaining trophy in world football that was missing from the cabinet. It makes perfect sense now….
Away from Manchester United, City have released several players – namely Zabaletta, Clichy, Navas and Caballero all of whom you would not bet against rocking up at the London Stadium next season. To balance this out, Pep is on the verge of signing Monaco’s Bernardo Silva who is, of course, an attacking midfielder as that is pretty much all Pep deals in. Full backs sold, another number ten signed – I can see Pep’s master plan here. Raheem Sterling at right back next season, just you watch.
Big Sam decided that life could not get much better than guiding Crystal Palace to safety and, for once, felt it would be best to quit whilst he was ahead. The news was quite a shock in fairness, having watched the Sky Sports interview at the weekend where Sam furiously chewed away telling the reporter how next season would be very exciting if they recruited well again. He’s not the first manager to walk away in a sulk after not being allowed to get the players he wanted. I can only presume that the board didn’t want to sign Kevin Nolan or Andy Carroll. Still, cracking work by Palace to distract the Eagles fans by announcing Zaha signing a new 5-year-deal a matter of days later. Big Sam who? The board will no doubt dream of getting a Roberto Mancini or Marco Silva but, more realistically, will end up with a Garry Monk. Which may not be a bad thing at all.
Gareth Southgate’s balls are growing by the day. Despite the whole world knowing it was the right thing to do, there was still an element of doubt as to whether the England manager would be man enough to tell Wayne Rooney the gig was up. And he did. Dropped after far too many caps and, frankly, more goals than he deserved. There are people out there, you know the types, who say that anyone claiming Rooney did not reach his potential are fools. They point to his trophy collection to back up their case. Quite frankly, anyone doing that cannot be old enough to actually remember how Rooney, a man-child as a teenager, burst on to the scene – that goal against Arsenal, his England debut, Euro 2004. To be the best England player for the last decade was not too tricky to become – but it would not hard to mention a minimum of ten European players that have been better than Rooney in the same time, and that should not have been the case even when you remove the layers of over-hype English players get. Southgate named four goalkeepers (we are playing Scotland after all) and recalled Aaron Cresswell which makes me wonder if he has actually watched Aaron Cresswell since his return from injury.
It’s the FA Cup Final tomorrow, which will be the last time you get to see Arsene massively disappointed by his team’s complete lack of big match bottle.