…(Thank you Van Gaal, and Good-bye).
So that’s another season over then, and at least it ended with the lifting of a trophy – A proper one that we hadn’t won for twelve years.
The excitement of the FA Cup final had been slowly building since that Anthony Martial winner in the last minute of the semi-final against Everton. In between the two Wembley trips, United played four league games that didn’t exactly fill us with enthusiasm, beating Norwich and Bournemouth, drawing against Leicester and losing at West Ham.
Having finished fifth in the league and knowing that there will be no Champions League football at Old Trafford this season, we knew that it was imperative to win the FA Cup to make sure that we have something to cheer about after three seasons of mostly doom and gloom.
The starting line-up looked strong going into the final, with our own bush-headed Fellaini in midfield after being suspended for the previous three games. The first half wasn’t exactly exhilarating, and there weren’t many talking points apart from a couple of incidents regarding referee Mark Clattenburg and his officiating. A few seemed to think that it was thanks to him that Palace didn’t go ahead after he whistled for a foul by Smalling on Connor Wickham who ran on and ‘scored’, a whole TEN seconds after the whistle had actually gone, at which point most of the United players had stopped as the whistle had gone. Never mind that De Gea didn’t even try to save Wickham’s effort, the ball was in the net and some decided that Palace had a goal disallowed!
Some Palace supporters (and Alan Pardew) were also adamant that they should have had a penalty when Rooney tackled Zaha in the box and didn’t get the ball. Funny how they didn’t mention that he never even touched Zaha, who went over on his own looking to deceive the referee.
In the second half United upped the tempo a bit and created a few very good chances. Rashford set Fellaini up with a nifty back-heel, from which the Belgian hit the post. A while later it was Martial’s turn to hit the other post from a header. As time wore on, many United fans became worried that this had a 1-0 Palace win written all over it. When Puncheon did put them ahead with just twelve minutes to go, it seemed like that would indeed happen. Thankfully the United players had other ideas, and just three minutes later Captain Rooney went on an amazing run before crossing, Fellaini chested the ball down in the box (probably to take a shot himself), and it landed neatly at Juan ‘hugs’ Mata’s feet, who finished coolly to make sure the game went into extra-time.
When ‘Mike’ Smalling was rightly sent off for a second yellow card just before half-time, it looked like United had a mountain to climb and we hoped that they would at least take the game to penalties. Cue substitute Jesse Lingard, who sent us into raptures when after some good work by Antonio Valencia, the ball fell to the youngster just inside the Palace box and without a second thought volleyed the ball crisply into the top corner. The last ten minutes were nail-biting for us, even though Palace only created two decent chances. When the final whistle went, we could start celebrating a twelfth FA Cup win in the club’s illustrious history.
Straight after the game news started coming out that Van Gaal was leaving United with Jose Mourinho replacing him, which left many cheering these ‘rumours’ more than winning the FA Cup itself! Apart from the fact that this was an ‘open secret’ that many knew would happen for months, it was a tad unfair that the fact that United winning such a prestigious trophy for a record time was overshadowed by Van Gaal being replaced.
Change had to be made as the past two seasons haven’t been successful for a club of United’s stature, but you can’t disregard the winning of the FA Cup just because the other twenty-four months were frustrating and things didn’t go as planned.
So we say well done and thank you to Mr. Van Gaal, and hope that he has a happy and relaxed retirement, especially after having to endure being sacked over and over by the media.
Jose Mourinho hasn’t been officially confirmed yet due to some contractual issues regarding image rights (as of Thursday afternoon). While it’s understandable that he tries to get the most out of it for himself and his family, it’s a sad state of affairs when something like ‘image rights’ complicates matters when it comes to signing on the dotted line. Modern football, eh?
Talking about finances in football, a list has been released of how much money Premier League clubs have made from TV rights in the past season. Arsenal lead the table having got just over £100m, with United and City making over £96m each. When you see that even Aston Villa, who were so terrible and finished last, got more than £66m you realise why many business people show such a huge interest in buying into Premier League clubs. If only they start reducing match ticket prices especially as clubs will be making even more money from TV from next season. Don’t hold your breath though as most clubs are just greedy and they know most supporters will keep paying high prices to see their teams play live.
And now we have a summer full of transfer speculations to look forward to. Oh, the joy of three months of listening to all the players that will be linked to United. The media have already mentioned about fifteen players that Mourinho wants, even before he himself becomes manager! At least we have EURO 2016 and the Copa America to keep us entertained until the new season begins, and no matter how long this summer will seem, it will be the first one in twelve years where we can call ourselves FA Cup Winners… COME ON UNITED!!!