Dear reader, we probably saw it coming. Even after the preceding week in football where shock comeback followed shock comeback, it was always likely to end like this.
Yes, Manchester United lost at home to already relegated Cardiff City meaning they finish 6th in the Premier League. 6th!
I jest, of course. Nobody, not even the United fans, really care about all that. It was all about a nail-biting end to the Premier League season. The only thing was, it was only nail-biting for about 83 seconds.
But we will come on to all that, I promise.
We need to talk about Europe.
Who would have thought that Big Vinny‘s pile-driver against Leicester City would have been so quickly forgotten?
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t that surprised to see Liverpool turn it around against Barcelona at Anfield. After all, they’d played well in Spain and they were able to pick an attack that didn’t feel obliged to give it to Mohamed Salah and watch him try and do it all on his own.
Incredibly, the lack of Salah meant Liverpool played a little bit differently but let’s not pretend that at least 85% of their comeback was down to the fact that Barcelona have the mental strength of a wet paper towel.
Were Liverpool lucky that Andrew Robertson had to go off and their very own Gini-in-a-bottle came off the bench to score a brace? Maybe, maybe. One thing that wasn’t luck was Liverpool’s fourth. Apparently, the Liverpool scouts had said that Barcelona like to spend at least a minute having a moan about any decision that goes against them and they were proven to be right with that late corner.
Divock Origi’s not had a bad few days, either. Winners against Everton and Newcastle and then scoring two of the most important goals he will ever score in the Champions League semi-final. Will that be enough to make him an Anfield regular? Er, no. Have you actually watched him play?
Liverpool’s “greatest European comeback in the history of the world” lasted even less time than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s honeymoon period.
What about that night in Amsterdam? No, not that one. We don’t talk about that one. I’m talking about Wednesday night.
I think Jose Mourinho summed it up quite nicely. “Ajax and their philosophy can watch the Champions League Final on their sofa at home.” He’s still the most brutal man in football.
But didn’t Spurs do well? Even after Kieran Trippier seemed to be on a one-man mission to save Tottenham fans from extortionate travel expenses to Madrid in June, eh? I know clubs put a lot of time and effort into watching opposition set-pieces and all that, but who on Earth felt it would be a good idea for Tripper to pick up that 18-year-old man-child, the Ajax captain De Ligt?
The English game has certainly progressed into something far more technical over the years, but it was nice to see the Poch take us back to the 1980s by sticking on the big lad up top and smashing long ball after long ball into him until Ajax folded.
Unsurprisingly, Fernando Llorente didn’t trouble the scorers but the havoc he created seemed to create enough space for Lucas Moura to net a second-half hat-trick that was barely believable.
Spurs, having been pretty much out of the competition after three group games, will face Liverpool in Madrid.
And the best moment of all this crazy European football? Easyjet shamelessly advertising flights from the UK into Europe for just £49.99. Not on the weekend of June 1st, that’s for sure.
Arsenal and Chelsea completed the set on Thursday night, the Gunners easing past Valencia in Spain thanks to a treble by Yo-Pierre. Chelsea needed spot-kicks to knock out German opposition in Eintracht Frankfurt. The reason the Germans lost? “I don’t think enough English players took the penalties,” said Frankfurt General Manager Fredi Bobic, still finding time to remind English football fans of something that still really hurts.
The two London clubs and their fans would love to be spending thousands of pounds to get to Madrid for their final. They have to find a way through a warzone to get to Baku in Azerbaijan. That should be a synch.
Anyway, the Premier League came to an end on Sunday with one of those rare occasions where every single match kicked off at the same time.
And, for 83 seconds, it looked like Liverpool might complete their second smash-and-grab of the week as Brighton’s Glenn Murray scored the opening goal at the Amex.
With Liverpool already leading against Wolves, it couldn’t happen, could it?
Er, no. 83 seconds later and Sergio Aguero (who else?) equalised and you just knew the game was up. Brighton scoring once? OK, could happen. Twice? Not a chance. And City put four away just to make sure.
97 points and no league title to show for it? If you really, really try you could feel sorry for Liverpool. If you really try. As well as a Champions League Final they now have the challenge of not becoming the modern-day version of that Kevin Keegan Newcastle United side; pretty to watch, incredibly entertaining but, ultimately, trophyless.
Apparently, Wolves fans were celebrating imaginary Brighton goals just to mess with the heads of their opposing supporters at Anfield. That’s the kind of tomfoolery we can all get behind, I am sure.
You have to doff your cap momentarily for Peppy G’s Man City side who defended their 100 point tally last season with 98 this time around. 198 points in two seasons kinda deserves two titles, really. City have become the first time to defend the Premier League title since Manchester United used to be good. And, as we know, that was a very long time ago.
I wasn’t joking when I said they lost at home to already relegated Cardiff City. 2-0. 2-0! Is it utterly outlandish to wonder whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might not be in charge at the start of next season?
Ole might well be at the wheel but how many more times will the old banger he is driving break down? The chassis is clearly full of rust and some idiot of a boy-racer has spent the last couple of years adding random bits of modification that really were not needed.
United will finish 6th which means Europa League football next season. But here’s the kicker. If Watford beat City in the FA Cup Final, United will have to play in the second qualifying round of Europe’s second-tier competition. And that kicks off on the same day that United are pencilled in to play in some glorified money-spinning preseason International Champions Cup farce match in the USA. Awkward. Oh, and their final points tally was as close to Neil Warnock’s relegated team as it was to the Champions, City.
Chelsea ended up finishing third and might win some silverware to boot. Has that been that bad a season under Maurizio Sarri? I think we’ll be seeing him again next time. Even if they can’t sign anyone. Sarri must be delighted at the thought of whacking Michy B up top alongside Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic next season. But hey, Ibrahima Bakayoko is just his cup of midfield tea.
Spurs were mentally still in the Netherlands as they allowed Theo Walcott to score at their new home. It finished 2-2, but nobody cares or will remember. It meant that Spurs did avoid the humiliation of an 8-goal swing in favour of Arsenal which would have seen their friends down the road steal into the prestigious 4th place.
Arsenal did Burnley 3-1, Yo-Pierre getting another couple and finishing the season as the joint-top-scorer in the Premier League alongside Sadio Mane and Salah.
Crystal Palace and Bournemouth put on the kind of exhibition that you’d see on a Sunday morning in Croydon where most of the players are still inebriated from the night before. To suggest the game had an end-of-season feel would be like suggesting that Tottenham’s last minute winner against Ajax was a bit of a shock. It ended 5-3 to Palace, young Mark Travers quickly learning what it’s really like to play in goal for the Cherries.
Fulham appointed Scotty Parker as the permanent manager in midweek following a great run of form. And, guess what? You got it. Fulham got spanked 4-0 at home to Newcastle United. I know, Newcastle scored four in London! It must have been the last game of the season or something.
Watford warmed up for Saturday’s FA Cup Final by losing 4-1 at home to West Ham and seeing a key man get himself suspended for Wembley. They will probably beat City now because football has a habit of being like that at the moment.
Do I have to end my Premier League season by commenting on Southampton’s match with Huddersfield? I can completely ignore it? Fantastic, I’ll do that.
The season ended watching Pep Guardiola’s backroom team of 87 people lift the Premier League trophy high knowing deep down that ultimately they had failed once again to deliver the title that the club really needs to win; the Champions League.