Monday 20 May 2024

Monday morning, feeling fragile.......

Today is my least favourite day of the year. It is the day after the League football season finishes. The whole thing started for me on August 11th (the day after I was discharged from hospital following a radical prostatectomy).  Burnley vs Manchester City saw the start of the season. Manchester City, not unexpectedly, won 3-0. City legend Vincent Kompany had his first game as Burnley manager in the Premiership. He announced that this was the hardest game of the season and things would improve. Sadly for Vinnie they didn't and they were relegated. As with last season, Arsenal emerged as the main challengers. Both teams played some phenominal football, but after the Gunners lost at home to Aston Villa, a City victory seemed inevitable. Perhaps the key end of season moment was the Spurs v City fixture last week. It was a strange event, with Spurs fans wanting City to win, to prevent their local rivals triumphing in the league. A brace from Haaland and an excellent save from sub Keeper Ortega fromn Son saw City come through.  The table doesn't lie

Position Team Played   Won Drawn Lost Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
Manchester City            38 28     7       3            96                   34                       62 91
Arsenal                          38 28         5       5     91                   29                       62 89

The devil is in the detail of the table. The teams won the same number of games, 28, however Arsenal lost two more. Their goal difference was the same, but City scored five more and Arsenal conceded five fewer. In the fnal recogning, in a couple of games, Arsenal let it slip. When they secured a 0-0 at the Etihad, by parking the bus, Arsenal fans took it as a victory. I felt that real Champions don't set up for a draw. City don't. If Arsenal had won, they'd have won the league. If they'd lost, it would have made no difference to the final standings. My view is that you have to try to put your rivals to the sword if you really want to be Champions. When you are in a title race against a team like City, hoping they will slip up and let you in is a very poor strategy.

Fans of many of City's rivals have bemoaned the fact that the club have 'cheated' and 'bought the title'. For me, all of this is simply excuses. All of the issues are pre 2018, hardly relevant to what happened this season. Over the last five years, City have been fifth in the net spending. You may not like the club, but they run a tight ship and in every aspect of the way they conduct their footballing business is an example to other clubs. The Academy is the best in the country, producing the player of the year Phil Foden, as well as Cole Palmer, now at Chelsea and carving out his own story (at a profit of £45 million for City). The transfer policy delivers players that simply fit in with little drama and often at a far lower cost than marque signings at other clubs. The backroom team is second to none (it is no coincidence that Arsenal's manager Arteta was an apprentice of Pep).

As for the rest? Well Arsenal fans are meditating on the might have beens. Liverpool fans are facing a post Klopp world, with trepidation. No one really knows how the new guy will shape up and Klopp had big boots to fill. Aston Villa under Unai Emery had a great season, notwithstanding yesterdays result. They were the surprise package. Man Utd and Chelsea both chronically under achieved given the cost of their respective squads. Chelsea had a strong finish to the season, largely lead by Cole Palmer, and should be feeling positive. United seem to have gone backwards. Spurs flattered to deceive. Ange got them playing good football, but there is a feeling that they fell short of what they should have done.

But now it's all over, bar the FA Cup. It won't start againg until August. We have the Euro's which should be good, but is not the same. It is also my wife's favourite time of the year. We can catch up on all the telly we've missed due to the wall to wall footie. 

As a City fan, I celebrated. I am suffering a bit today, but hey ho, it was worth it. I do find the close season dull though.

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