Dear reader, I hope you have risen to read this. We should all be standing and applauding, you see. Yes, for Pep Guardiola and his Man City band of not-at-all-expensively-assembled-yet-still-very-merry-men have become the first team in English football history to do the domestic quadruple by winning the FA Cup Final against Watford.
Yes, I did say quadruple. The Community Shield does count (when you are scrabbling around for even more reasons to deflect from the fact you failed once again in the Champions League and that FFP investigation going on in the background).
Taking Watford apart limb by limb was enough for Vincent Kompany to realise that he had reached his footballing peak and it was time to call it a day. Manchester City‘s most successful captain in modern-day history turned down the offer of a one-year extension to his contract to announce, brilliantly as it happens, that he is going home to Belgium to become player-manager of his hometown club, Anderlecht.
As for Watford, I think we can call 6-0 a rout. They were only one goal shy of having the word ‘SEVEN’ come up on the Grandstand vidiprinter for crying out loud. Elton John certainly made the right call by honouring his concert commitments.
Javi Gracia’s side might have momentarily got their hopes up when they saw the starting lineups with Peppy G omitting Sergio Agüero, Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho for various reasons.
By the end, Agüero will have felt completely robbed of a nailed on hat-trick. That said, Watford’s Ben Foster, overlooked so that Heurelho Gomes could get a fine old send-off, will have realised he dodged a bullet as effectively as his replacement dodged the ball for 90 minutes. That might be a little harsh on the Brazilian supposed-to-be-shot-stopper, but having become the first goalkeeper in over 100 years to let in six in an FA Cup Final I think it is safe to say he won’t be overturning his decision to retire.
Jose Holebas also had reason to feel particularly hard done by. Afterall, the FA had incredibly admitted a refereeing error and overturned Holebas’ red card gained last weekend meaning he was available for the final. I bet he wishes they hadn’t bothered.
But it could have been oh-so-different. Roberto Pereyra missed a great chance to put Watford ahead before Kompany appeared to get away with another handball in the area. City appear to have VAR under their spell in the FA Cup. It wasn’t available in the Swansea match meaning they got away with a couple and here, well let’s just say if the FFP panel are working in a similar way then the fans can still start planning their European away days next season.
Kevin de Bruyne casually popped in for half-an-hour at the end which was enough for BT Sport to award him the man-of-the-match award, pipping Raheem Sterling and Gabby Jesus to the honour despite them both scoring twice and almost doing a full shift each.
Sterling spent most of the game believing he’d scored a hat-trick having tried to pinch Jesus’ first of the day. It was a dangerous game as a younger Sterling has form on missing from there.
The real winners were not Manchester City though. No, the real winners were their local rivals Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lot can now fulfil that tricky International Champions Cup engagement that they still get invited to without the worry of being double booked with a pesky Europa League qualifying round. City’s win means they get to enter the second-tier competition in the group stages.
Wolves were probably the losers in a weird kind of way. Despite their ‘delight’ to qualify for Europe, they will get underway somewhere very random in the middle of July and, possibly, find themselves in a relegation scrap come the middle of March. Hey, I’m just going off what normally happens to first-time Europa League qualifiers from the Premier League. Granted, none of their predecessors have been run by Jorge Mendes so it might be a bit different for Nuno et al.
Oasis are doing alright from this whole period of City dominance too, eh? I’m hearing them more often these days than I did in the late ’90s.
Peppy G’s day didn’t end perfectly, sadly. Whilst the City players were collecting the medals he still had time to critique Sterling’s performance in what, cynically of course, looked like a cracking bit of ‘coaching for the cameras’. Then, in the post-match presser, he was asked whether he’d ever received payments from his bosses that weren’t strictly related to coaching Manchester City; just like one of his City forefathers, Roberto Mancini was alleged to have received. Rather than shrug it off and get back to the champagne, Guardiola bit and bit hard. It’s almost like there’s a bit of smoke and fire at the Etihad.
Away from Wembley, Premier League managers with a question mark over their head are a little worried as Juventus have sacked Max Allegri. He’s up for a new challenge and, let’s be honest, the money’s alright in the Premier League, isn’t it?
Graham Potter might not have got Swansea City promoted to the Premier League last season but he’s managed to do it for himself. Brighton have admired his work from afar, particularly how the Swans nearly derailed Man City’s domestic quadruple before it really got going. They’ve admired it so much they are prepared to give Swansea £2m if they can let Potter go.
Wilf Zaha has said, again, he’d really love to play Champions League football and isn’t convinced Crystal Palace can offer him that. Palace have said they completely understand where he’s coming from and they’ll happily let fulfil his dreams if someone is willing to pay them £100m. Look forward to another year in Croydon, Wilf.
If you are young and English there is every chance you are currently on Man United’s radar so alert your agents. Solskjaer is thought to be keen on Jadon Sancho, who isn’t so keen apparently. Undeterred, Ole wants Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff who is currently recovering from a bad knee injury. Alongside Longstaff, United want Aaron Wan-Bissaka who is currently taking advice from Zaha for the places to have fun in Manchester. Declan Rice? They’ve made ‘enquiries’.
And yet United are getting pelters from all angles for this transfer approach. Which is rather bizarre given how well their more recent ‘pay daft money for superstars’ approach has gone.
Having watched Real Madrid on Sunday, I think we can all agree that Paul Pogba would fit in perfectly there.