Tuesday 22nd May 2012
Chelsea’s historic and surprising Champions League win against Bayern Munich late on Saturday night has brought up the subject, for me at least, of what would clubs rather achieve in a season: a trophyless top four finish? Or win a competition, but end up below those coveted positions? Before and after that drama in the Allianz Arena I was wondering whether Manchester United and Arsenal fans and their owners would rather had had the season that the Blues have just been through than their own.
One would gather that anyone with a brain cell who is associated with the latter club would prefer winning two trophies – including the biggest of them all – and finish 6th in the league rather than coming 3rd with nothing to parade to their supporters. And seeing as it has now been seven years without a major trophy for the Gunners – their longest streak since the period of 1979 to 1987 – you would guess that that would be the case.
As for United who needless to say (although I’ll say it anyway) have won silverware virtually non-stop for just over two decades, I can’t help but feel that on Sunday, they would rather have been showing off the FA Cup and European Cup down the streets of Manchester as opposed to reflecting on their 2nd place finish on the golf course or at home during a roasting session (food or otherwise), however commendable it was (the league position not the roasting) – particularly with a points tally that in most campaigns would have won them the title.
Manchester City would probably gladly take the one trophy in the form of the Premier League crown over the two Chelsea have recently won as it is often noted by people within the game, past and present, as being the hardest to win. It’s certainly the one that is – without the match-fixing – deservedly acquired by the team that comes out on top. But I am sure that United and the teams just below them especially Newcastle United who have not been at the high end of the top tier for many years, would rather be lifting a trophy. Anyone that says they would take 2nd, 3rd or 4th place over what Chelsea have just achieved is out of their skulls.
Liverpool’s outcome is obviously a far lesser achievement than the ones accomplished by the side from west London, but now Tottenham Hotspur have ended up in the Europa League anyway despite finishing 4th, would fans of the north London club have taken an 8th place finish in the league and a League Cup triumph at the start of the season if they knew what their current predicament would be? Yes, it is a tough league and a top-four finish deserves a round of applause, but with all the accolades that go with a cup win – a day out for the fans, a trophy to show off, a place in history on the honours’ list – it surely makes it a more memorable feat.
Liverpool have had a tumultuous campaign which culminated with the sacking of Anfield legend, Kenny Daglish, in what was a very sad way to go for someone who has done so much for the club, whilst Tottenham were on the cusp of leading the table just past the halfway point of the season. But the fact is that both clubs are in the Europa League and one has a major trophy to show whilst the other doesn’t. As Steven Gerrard said, ‘‘I don’t want to be saying I finished in the top four, four or five times. I want to look back and say I won the Carling Cup three times. Or four. Or five.”
Generally, no one remembers teams who finish 3rd or 4th, but winners are whether it’s the League Cup or European Cup. The question of whether clubs would prefer a trophy to a Champions League place is actually the bigger issue here. Saturday’s triumph puts Chelsea amongst Europe’s elite anyway so it’s probably silly to ask whether Spurs would have preferred Roberto Di Matteo’s team’s exploits, but when a team comes 4th, you know they are the fourth best team in the country – for now at least – which brings with it much pride, whereas that is not necessarily true of cup competitions as the winner can get lucky.
Would, would, would…the word has been said a lot in this article, but what WOULD Man United, Arsenal and Spurs’ supporters prefer? Surely it goes without saying that they, particularly the latter, WOULD prefer Chelsea’s season despite the Blues finishing in, what is for them, a lowly 6th place. Or WOULD they? I know what the majority SHOULD aspire too.
Feel free to leave me your comments and opinions here or on my Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and/or YouTube: