Man U will have had a better season than Arsenal? Okay…


It was only a few days ago that Man U “legend” Rio Ferdinand predicted that Man U will have had a better season than Arsenal by virtue of having won the Carabao Cup and finishing third (below, it must be mentioned, the Arsenal). At the time, Man U were, it must be admitted, pursuing a long-shot treble, hoping to add the Europa League and FA Cup to their tally for the season. Hm.

Going into Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinal, Man U already had to contend with the humiliation of conceding not one but two own-goals in the first leg at Old Trafford, stumbling to a draw despite getting to the 84th minute with a two-goal lead. The debasement only continued in the second leg, with Man U conceding one goal after another, each more comical than the last, as they crashed out 5-2 on aggregate.

Let’s revisit Ferdinand’s words from just a few days prior when he had this to say:

If Arsenal don’t win the league and Man United finish third and just the one trophy they have had a better season. If you’re a player, forget fans, and you finish third and win a trophy, Carabao Cup, whatever it is and the team above you finish second and win no trophies, who is the happier player?

At the time of his declaration, Man U did still have a glimmer of a chance at that treble Re-enter Sevilla. Even given the regrettable [cough] injuries to Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez and the entirely unpredicted suspension of Bruno Fernandes, one might have suspected that Man U would go into the second leg with a grim, maybe even fervent, determination to set things right after that first leg.

Alack and alas.

If this is anything like what Ferdinand envisioned, bring it on. Ten Hag’s minions played like a bunch of Benny Hill-ish Keystone Cops running around while Yakety Sax played on speakers that go, right across the board, to eleven.

So. Man U have won the Carabao Cup. They did defeat Newcastle United, burnishing somewhat a trophy that most big clubs might look askance at. They can point to key injuries to Rashford, Varane, and Martinez as key factors that blunted their chance at a double or a treble, to which I say, I see you and raise you an injury to Jesus, Tomiyasu, Zinchenko, and Saliba.

If we do fall short of winning the Prem, something that no one even saw us coming close to having a chance at being an aside in the conversation for who might pull that off way back in August, and if Man U overcome their own colossal, comedic calamities in order to win the FA Cup while also staving off Newcastle to finish third, we might then engage an earnest conversation about who’s had the best season.

In the meantime, it does feel a bit like Man U’s legends are casting about and grasping at straws as their season runs aground. I understand full-well that we’re backing ourselves into a corner as we cast about and struggle to stave off Man City, but that’s a far cry from humiliating ourselves across both legs of a Europa League tie while also claiming that finishing fifteen points or so behind one’s rival amounts to a better season.

Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night, Rio as well as the rest of you Mancunians. If you do win that FA Cup, we can revisit this conversation. It’s a game of poker at this point, isn’t it? Who’s bluffing, and who can call the other’s bluff? The cards are dealt. Les jeux sont faits. Let the cards fall where they may…

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