If a treble means three, then, with a heavy heart, we must admit that Jose Mourinho has won ‘a’ treble in his first season as Manager of Manchester United.
Add Champions League qualification to that, which, did Liverpool fail to beat Middlesborough on the final day of the League season, would have seen Arsenal do a repeat of their 2013 final day on-pitch celebrations of the narrow win over Newcastle, a celebration of ‘The 4th Place Trophy’.
But Arsenal did not achieve that this year, for the first time in 19 years. This was Arsenal’s most crushing season in the Arsene Wenger Premier League era. That was despite attaining a 75-point haul that would have been enough for 4th place in any other league season. And what hurt more? Bitter rivals Spurs finished above them for the first time in 21 years.
This Article could have had two other titles. One would have been about the inevitable reference to Mourinho as having another laugh at his ‘specialist in failure’ rival, but we won’t give him that pleasure. Having the World’s most expensive player’s finest moment in a season being a deflected goal in a final against 18 year olds, with more hair cuts than key passes, hasn’t been anything spectacular as far as management is concerned.
The other, more reflective, headline for this piece is that this could be the final final for Arsene Wenger and for the club in a long time. Next season, the Premier League will be contested by this season’s top six. We must expect Everton’s Ronald Koeman to prove that he will be good enough for the Barcelona job, while Rafa Benitez certainly looks like he’ll be coming into his own with Newcastle.
It makes for a very competitive season, both in the League and cup competitions. Should Wenger stay on beyond the result of whatever Chelsea does to/for Arsenal, will he be as motivated to take on the fight as he claims to be? If he goes, how quickly will the new Manager be able to settle in and get the right players to have the right attitude that will match the competitiveness of their rivals, with the distractions of the Europa League?
This campaign has barely ended but five first team players of Manchester City, including legend Pablo Zabaleta, have already departed. They have smashed their transfer record to secure the signature of Portuguese prodigy, Bernardo Silva, from Ligue Un Champions, Monaco. Guardiola won’t be messing around next year, and financially speaking, that’s just a fraction of the torrent we anticipate from Manchester this summer. United won’t break their record but there will be a splash. Conte will reinforce, Klopp will get more partners for Coutinho and co.
It will be exciting next season, genuinely. But I wonder if Arsenal fans are also optimistic. A decimated central defense will line up against Eden Hazard and his accomplices in assault. It looks bleak, but there is some reason to be optimistic. If Arsenal survive Chelsea, next season will begin with some belief, with an impossible but believable quadruplet within reach. At least there will be a Community Shield to play for, as not-a-real-trophy as it is.
But if they don’t, well… No Arsenal fan really wants to contemplate the possibility that United – a laughing stock just barely 35 months ago under David Moyes – can win a quintuplet next season. Yes, Five Trophies, from Super Cup to the Champions League.
Nobody wants to reactivate that 9-year clock that briefly stopped ticking in 2015. Because, with the competition coming next season and set to continue, no Arsenal fan really wants to have that sinking feeling; “Would it ever happen in my lifetime again?”