Well, you have to applaud the Manchester United fans. The players have been unable to stop City winning the title once again, so you can understand their cunning plan to slow down the title parade.
Lots of United supporters broke into Old Trafford ahead of their clash with Liverpool to protest at the ownership of the Glazers – or, alternatively, decided to give themselves a free tour of the stadium whilst managing to get the match postponed.
It was a protest sold to us “mainly peaceful” and a “wake up call to the Glazers” and “the continuation of what happened two weeks ago”, but what do these fans think their protests are actually going to lead to? The Glazers selling? Yes, that could happen of course – but then who can actually afford to buy the club? It’s either going to be another billionaire who, guess what, will treat it exactly the same way as the largest football cash cow in the world or a country looking to use football to gloss over some details they’d rather got forgotten.
I have more patience with United fans than many over this, to be honest – they were kicking off about the Glazers before their takeover even went through and many broke away to form their own club as a result. And, to be fair, the off-the-pitch action almost certainly provided more entertainment than anything United and Liverpool have served up in recent seasons.
United had been in action earlier in the week, repeating their only party trick of going behind before storming back and battering Roma in the Europa League. Edinson Cavani may have scored a brace but there’s still no real clarity on whether he will be at United next season – and even if he is, can they expect to challenge City and ward off Liverpool with him as their main number 9?
United might still face Arsenal in the Europa League final but, more likely, they’ll face the competition specialist extraordinaire in Villarreal’s Unai Emery.
City are in the kind of box seat that only Pep in the Champions League could throw away and Chelsea will probably live to regret not killing off Madrid when they had the chance.
The other million-dollar question in football this week is who is left standing in the queue to take the Tottenham job? It is believed Daniel Levy genuinely believed he might be able to get Julian Nagelsmann, a self-confessed Bayern Munich fan with the knowledge that the Bayern Munich job was up for grabs, to London. Bayern announced Nagelsmann earlier in the week. Admiring glances were sent in the direction of Brendan Rodgers who, publicly at least, said he was very happy in his current marriage and had no intention of leaving Leicester. Next on the list was Ajax’s Erik ten Hag who, skillfully, used Spurs’ interest to get an extra year and a fair wad of cash added to his monthly pay packet.
So who is left? Some papers are trying to suggest that Hansi Flick, the new Germany coach elect, might be swayed from that course to take over from Mourinho. Another German, Ralf Rangnick, might be persuaded to give the Premier League an all-time high of two coaches called Ralf in situ. More realistically, Levy’s going to go back to Rodgers with an eye-watering contract before sounding out whether Graham Potter fancies ruining his reputation by leaving a very well run club for a not-so-well run club.
Anyway, on to the Premier League matches that did actually take place at the weekend.
Peppy G’s got the champagne on ice after City took Crystal Palace apart in Saturday’s early fixture. They might be tired, they might not even know which competition they are competing for one week from the next and they might be giving Sergio Aguero token appearances so he can leave in a better way – but they are still very, very good. And that finish from Aguero was tasty – what odds on him scoring the goal that wins City their first-ever Champions League? If Pep doesn’t overthink the return leg with PSG, I mean.
Leicester are still exploring creative ways of not finishing in the top four this season. Southampton went down to ten men, probably wrongly, on Friday night evoking memories of the last time they went down to ten men early against Leicester and ended up losing 9-0. However this time, the Saints fought and came away with a point – a point that means that Rodgers’ still has a few more sleepless nights ahead of him.
Nailed on for a top-four spot now are Chelsea. Tommy Tuchel is getting a tune out of at least one of the Germans he was brought in to fix – albeit Kai Havertz only took Fulham apart single-handedly. Timo Werner, fresh from missing the kind of chance that will haunt him forever if Chelsea do go out of the Champions League this week, put in yet another fine performance missing the one thing he was bought for – goals.
Danny Welbeck can still play a bit, channelling his inner Hal Robson-Kanu to Cruyff turn himself into a lovely little goalscoring position. Leeds were bizarrely toothless without Kalvin Phillips, a phrase that I would love to see Bielsa give to his interpreter.
Everton truly do have split personalities. Actually, scrap that statement – they really are not as good as (a) they think they are and (b) others think they are. Aston Villa were the latest side to dent Carlo Ancelotti’s European hopes and someone should convince Ross Barkley he is playing his old club every week.
Arsenal have been the subject of takeover chat by, you guessed it, a different billionaire this week – the guy who has made his fortune through Spotify. Apparently, he grew up on the streets of his hometown in Sweden wearing the Arsenal shirt, crying when Ian Wright left and fully appreciating the art of Dennis Bergkamp. The Kroenkes have stated the club is not for sale – which sounds like a barefaced lie to me when you learn that the club has actually been on the market for £1.7bn for the last two years.
On the pitch, Arteta’s eight changes led to them easing past Newcastle 2-0. That’s a quarter of a goal for each change.
Finally, we can say Gareth Bale has found the level he needs to be playing at next season. Tottenham smashed relegated Sheffield United 4-0 with Bale nabbing a hat-trick. Championship defences should look out next season.