United boss Jose Mourinho and his players got it exactly right after winning the Europa League on Thursday, despite it being almost impossible not to keep reflecting on the terrorist atrocity back home in Manchester.
Ander Herrera, the man of the match, said afterwards it was just a game of football – and just a trophy that the Reds had won.
It was an emotionally-charged atmosphere in Stockholm when United did just as I expected and showed total professionalism, imposing their clear superiority on youthful Ajax who looked out of their depth.
So it was job done….and the grieving goes on after what happened at the Manchester Arena.
Sport and the timing of this fixture in particular was a distraction – and perhaps a welcome one as this great northern city battles to gets off its knees.
I was so glad we didn’t have any of that John Terry nonsense, during what was probably Wayne Rooney’s final game for United. I couldn’t believe my eyes that a Premier League game should be artificially stopped so Chelsea’s long serving skipper can go off with a guard of honour – in the 26th minute which of course is his shirt number.
Compare that with United’s approach on Wednesday in albeit a much more important game than Chelsea’s last home match of the season against already relegated Sunderland. Rooney came on for additional time to great fanfare – and that nicely removed any awkwardness when he held aloft what was a huge trophy.
Rooney’s future is now subject of much speculation, with Betfred having him 2/1 to join any Chinese club, going back to Everton 3/1, any club in America 5/1, while Celtic are 20/1 with newly-promoted Newcastle 33/1. We’re quoting 3/1 on him staying at United but with him saying at 31 he wants more unforthcoming game time I can only see a parting of the ways.
United’s odds at Betfred to win the Premier League next season have remained the same at 7/2 behind favourites Manchester City 9/4, Chelsea 11/4 with Spurs 8/1, Liverpool and Arsenal at 12/1 – and Everton 100/1. Mourinho will now benefit from attracting A-list stars to Old Trafford this summer but it will be much tougher to sustain a challenge on the domestic front with Champions League commitments especially as City, champions Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal will all be splashing the cash big time sooner rather than later.
I’m wondering whether with five teams in the Champions League next season any of them can do better than Leicester and reach the final stages.We’ll get a clue soon enough for the winner of next Saturday’s Real Madrid-Juventus Champions League final in Cardiff will play United in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia on August 8.
Betfred have City, with what could be the most expensive of all-time total overhaul of their aging squad, at 12/1 to win the Champions League with Chelsea 14/1, United 16/1 and Liverpool 20/1. History tells us Spurs may struggle in a new ground ie Wembley and it has been widely reported their squad may be weakened so are 25/1 outsiders amongst the Fab Five to win the Champions League.