Gary Neville might have said it best: football is a cynical industry, and Manchester United is a cynical club. It’s something about the bravado and thirst for success. Past greats are celebrated, but the club moves on. Better players than Wayne Rooney have left Old Trafford; better loved players too. Gone, not forgotten, but with a focus shifted quickly. The king is dead; long live the king. Yet, history will also record the new Evertonian as one of the finest to have played for the club.
Picture the scene. Thursday, 17 December, 2015. Chelsea’s annual Christmas lunch at the club’s Cobham training ground has just concluded. The mood is downbeat. The Blues had lost 2-1 at Leicester City the previous Monday to record a ninth Premier League defeat of the season. José Mourinho’s low-key pre-lunch training session does little to lighten the atmosphere. The manager is sporting a newly shaven head and the stubble of a man too distracted to shave. As the players drift home, chairman Bruce Buck and director Eugene Tenenbaum arrived to sack Mourinho as Chelsea manager for the second time. A brutal assasination.
It has been three weeks in the making, but here it is – the final Rant Cast of the season. This week Ed & Paul look back on the past 10 months of football. The highs, the lows, the THREE trophies won. As always, there’s the much coveted (not at all coveted) RANT CAST AWARDS: Goal of the Season, Goalkeeper of the Season, Defender of the Season, Midfielder of the Season, Attacker of the Season, and Player of the Season. New this season: Shithousery of the Season!
Silverware! One, two, three – just like that new manager José Mourinho secured two major trophies and the season-opening Community Shield. Victory over Ajax in the Europa League final upgraded the campaign from disappointing to promising – and with it Mourinho secured just Manchester United’s fifth ever European trophy and passage through to next season’s Champions League. Yet, there’s no hiding the club’s poor finish in the league, and if there’s any measure that truly counts, it’s United’s performance against peers. There is much work to do and plenty of decisions to make over the summer.