For any football fan with a decent soul, saying goodbye to an old ground is always A Moment.
It’s something we’ve all become very used to over the past 20-odd years, as the effects of the Taylor Report and the growth of the Premier League have percolated through the game.
However, few Reds would have wished to linger too long at White Hart Lane yesterday. Had Rashford bagged his late chance, a resultant point would’ve gone down as our most outrageously stripey-jerseyed bit of swagbaggery this season.
Having said that, one might argue it’s not even worth discussing yesterday, or getting particularly worked up about this second successive London defeat. After all, with one eye on bigger fish frying opportunities, we fielded a rather sorry hybrid team, uncomfortably mixing likely rejects, shop window dummies, and the occasional proper player; they were then deployed to unsuccessful and boring effect; they then finally got what they deserved.
Mourinho had bizarrely decided we were writing off the league before the Arsenal match. Subsequent performances have taken their cue from that odd display of eggs-in-one-basketry by the boss. Frankly, despite the word’s overuse and whiff of the 1990s, a shrugging “meh” would sufficiently cover the entire day.
By the by, amidst all the rather ludicrous hype about Spurs over the weekend, where would you rather be this morning? Trophyless, homeless, and bottling it into second place again — or heading excitedly to Stockholm, with some silverware already in the bag? Aye, I thought so. Spurs have been ‘nearly something’ for as long as I’ve been a football fan. Some of us prefer actually to amount to something from time to time.
The other reason to shrug “meh” is the fact it’s now hard to think about anything but the European final. Yet we still have two pointless Premier League games to endure before our Swedish megajolly. Gah. Our wives are right after all: sometimes, you really can have too much football.
There will now be all the standard guff about ‘”being professional” and “respecting all our opponents/the league/the fans who pay our wages”. But let’s face it: many of us would be happy to hand over the six available points right now, if it guaranteed no pre-final injuries.
There are those statto nerds out there who really do care about which precise league position United finish in but, as we are painfully aware, these days there are really only two positions: top four, and not.
Nevertheless, fair play to the lads who will still schlep all the way down to the south coast this week for the meaningless Saints match. Their duty and loyalty can only be admired. It’s either that or they really can’t wait to get out of the house.
For many other Reds, they’ll be out of the house during this week for another pressing reason: to look for Stockholm tickets. United’s allocation is less than 10,000, the inevitable result of the brainless decision to give the final to a tiny venue.
If you’re in that ticket-chasing boat this week, good luck to you. We’ll meet here next week for the last time this season, to sum up what has been a stirring yet strange season, and to preview the final.
And no, I won’t have any spares...
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