Sunday 20 May 2018

United left to lick their wounds after cup final heartache

So, the end of another season. A season that promised so much but ultimately delivered very little, a season that looked set to be the one in which United would re-affirm the belief that we were a rejuventated force to be reckoned with - a belief only fuelled after a blistering and swashbuckling blitz out of the blocks that appeared to throw down a marker that we were the team to beat. Nine months on, and there couldn't be a more starker contrast.
A Jekyll and Hyde campaign from which we go away empty-handed. Nothing to show for nine months of toil and hard graft - as thoughts turn to summer and the World Cup in Russia, we're left with nothing but the hollow feeling of cup final pain and disappointment - a feeling that will linger for a while. Having won some silverware to head into the off season with something to savour in each of the last two years, in the form of an FA Cup, and last term's EFL/Europa Cup double, this time we're left with only a nagging feeling of frustration and a case of what might have been. A trophyless season - a situation that can never be considered as acceptable for Manchester United. I'm absolutely gutted and I'm sure everyone else who holds this club dear to their hearts feel the same way. Many had dubbed this the 'Consolation Cup' but I'm not having that - anyone who's anyone would give their right arm to see their team play in a domestic final that ranks as the most prestigious in the game and one trophy is better than none at all. Every tie matters - if it didn't then there wouldn't be such a horrible mood. You can't win them all, that's football, and the tough to take losses make winning the next one that bit more special.

It's a feeling made worse by the fact that Eden Hazard - a vile man and a player who must rank as the most detestable individual in the game - scored the winner, and that we lost to a Chelsea side who were very eminently beatable. They lost 3-0 at Newcastle the week before for pity's sake. Yes it's true they "parked the bus" - but it's also true that we would have done exactly the same had we scored first. We're in no position to grumble at their approach. This was a final in which we probably deserved to force extra-time, but Chelsea did what they had to, did it well and managed the game superbly so fair play to them. The better team lost, but they've got the cup, we haven't and that's all that matters.
It was an anti-climatic end to a season that, from a United perspective, started with the potential to be the best in years but gradually and painfully fizzled out into nothingness. A modicum of comfort can be taken from the league form - still some way off champions City but certainly an improvement from 2016-17. Second gives you bragging rights and you can claim to be just that - the second best team in the country - and we earned over 80 points for the first time since we last won it. In the grand scheme of things it might not mean much, but Jose can at least point to progress from last term's sixth placed finish. We are United, and we roll on.

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