So it’s nearly all over. On Wednesday night the fat lady will sing, at least as far as any English interest in Europe is concerned. To continue the mixed metaphors from the previous article, then is the time that José Mourinho will find out if the straws at which he has been grasping can be pulled through the silver lining he has decided the Europa League to be, or if they will get stuck in the cloud.

The domestic season concluded as expected with two Northern and two Southern clubs qualifying for the Champion’s League by finishing in the top four. There is a certain symmetry about the way it all ended.

No doubt Arsene Wenger would like to disagree having finished outside of the top four for the first time in twenty years. At least he now doesn’t have to be embarrassed at another failed attempt to win a competition he has never looked like winning in all those years, despite his annual qualification.

Antonio Conte and Jürgen Klopp will find out what it is like to have to handle two games per week with, occasionally, a lot of travelling involved and, because of this, the playing field should be a fair bit more level next season.

All this means that we shouldn’t expect Chelsea to run away with the Premier League title again! In fact, if Tottenham are prepared to throw away their Champion’s League and Europa League involvement at an early stage, as they did this season, then that would probably make them favourites for the title as their “two games per week” wouldn’t be a problem for very long.

Pep Guardiola has promised that things will improve at Manchester City. That means a few million pound are going to change hands along with some players and City may be unrecognisable next year from this. The majority of City fans hope so anyway after a disappointing campaign.

Everton and Arsenal have only made things difficult for themselves by qualifying for the Europa League. According to Gary Neville, it is very difficult to play on Thursday and Sunday and, for this reason, they will not be considered among the favourites for the Premier League next year.

Quite why it is any more difficult playing on these two days than it is playing on, say, Wednesday and Saturday, is beyond this simple-minded publication. A game of football, followed by two days without a game of football, followed by another game of football seems to be the same scenario whatever the names of the days in-between the games may be! Still, Gary knows best and we can only bow to his superior knowledge whilst quietly wondering what exactly he is going on about.

So, once again, we return to Manchester United. The only top English club yet to find out in which European competition they will be playing next season. They certainly like their drama and, as is often the case, we have to wait until the final page to find out the answer to the mystery.

Win the Europa League and José will be back to preaching that Manchester United are back where they belong and the just-won tournament will be consigned to the rank of B trophies again. Fail to win it and he will point to having reached a European final, won the EFL Cup and the Community Shield as a successful season, in fact, the most successful first season of any Manchester United manager ever!

So he will come out smelling of roses either way, which is as it should be because, whatever people think of him, he will get United back to being serial trophy winners. We just have to hope that some of those trophies will be “A-listers“.


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