THE EMIRATES F.A. Cup drew to a close a well-contested season of English football.
The 2016-2017 season will see the traditional big boys of English football share the spoils shared from a sizeable, bumped-up S$4.4 billion war chest.
Following an aberrant 2015-2016 season when Leicester won in stellar fashion before driving off the cliff this season, there seemed to be a divine master plan to bring natural order back to the globally hyped league.
In his debut season, Antonio Conte led Chelsea to a comfortable league victory. The London club galloped off with the Premiership title, and along with chasing pack of Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Liverpool, grabbed Champions League spots in a race that went to the wire for the also-rans.
By virtue of winning the Europa League, Manchester United qualified for next year’s Champions League. For Jose Mourinho, who had enjoyed success with Chelsea previously, this was — by his standards — mining for silverware with his new club.
This was a lesser tournament, and though he’d won it in its previous version as the UEFA Cup with Porto, this was the first time with and for the Red Devils. But by spinning it as a story of capturing the final piece for the shelf, and bragging about winning the League Cup and Community Shield, “The Special One” turned his debut season at Old Trafford into a tale of triumph.
Arsene Wenger, the longest-serving manager in the Premier League, had another season of mixed fortunes with Arsenal, and proved yet again how fickle this game is. The fans were out for his blood when the club failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, since he joined in 1996.
His reply to that was to describe their reaction as “a disgrace” and something he would never forget… and to win his seventh and a record 13th FA Cup for Arsenal. Well, that should shut the baying mob for a spell.
So, all is as it should be in the Premier League, made prettier with a bit of spin and some drama.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in all this about how we can tackle disruptions in the natural order of things?