The Greatest Title Race....?

Published: Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Was it really The Greatest Title Race in history? I’m not sure. 1967 wasn’t bad with Coventry and Wolves going nip and tuck to get out of the old Second Division!! I jest - of course!

My verdict on what we’ve just witnessed? Fascinating. Engaging. Invigorating. Dramatic. Breathtaking. Fill in the gap with your own thoughts...............! I loved every minute of it.

The best? I’m still not sure. But I am certain of this - both teams deserve huge credit. When it got serious neither blinked. I kept waiting for someone to slip but neither did. As good as City were recovering from their dramatic CL exit - so were Liverpool in going toe to toe with them. And Jurgen Klopp has returned The Reds to the top table of European football. Once again we can describe them as one of the ‘super-powers’. City have had a seat at the same table for a while now - but what they did this season was confirm that the balance of power has now truly shifted in Manchester. Next season their big game won’t be the derby - it’ll be against Liverpool - just as it used to be for United.

On the basis of what we saw this season the top two are light years ahead of United at the moment. And before you start the abuse about my obsession with United - let me point out that for 25 years they’ve been the benchmark - so it’s only natural to draw those comparisons.

It’ll be tough on Liverpool if their season ends without a trophy, but I’ve got to admit a soft spot for Spurs in the upcoming CL Final. Daniel Levy has taken so much stick down the years for his stewardship of that club, but he’s delivered hasn’t he? So has Poch.

Of course, it’s not inconceivable that both Euro trophies could end up in North London. Wouldn’t that be quite something? It’s not as dramatic as in Manchester - but Spurs have now tilted the power balance away from Arsenal.

It’s got to be said that Mauricio Sarri had a really good season. Two Cup Finals and a top 4 finish. Did we really think that was possible last August? But his real test will come if UEFA are able to enforce the transfer embargo.

I’m confused by all that. It’s something we’ve discussed a lot on Keys&Gray on #beINSPORTS this year. How can football’s authorities react to information revealed by hacking whilst the founder of Football Leaks sits in jail in Portugal awaiting trial for doing just that? Rui Pinto, a Portuguese citizen, dribbled embarrassing info on Benfica Sporting Lisbon and Porto into the public domain and its for those ‘crimes’ that he’ll go on trial. He’s alleged to have been behind many more leaks - not least allegations of third party ownership at Twente. We should be grateful to him. Meanwhile UEFA uses hundreds of leaked emails to prosecute some of the biggest clubs in the world for alleged irregularities. We can’t have it both ways.

Back to United. I smiled today when I read the Solskjaer is going to be handed a £125m war chest to re-build at Old Trafford. Really? That won’t but you one top player these days. Nothing short of the best part of another billion will be enough. And Solskjaer shouldn’t be the man spending it. He’s the wrong man, as I argued here days after he was confirmed in the job. What nonsense we heard from the ‘circle of Ferguson’ about him being ‘at the wheel’. The right man is at Tottenham. I ask again - which other PL club would’ve appointed the X-manager of Molde to their hot seat? None of them would. Simply none. It was madness. Ed Woodward should step aside now and let somebody else appoint Solskjear’s successor whilst getting on with re-structuring the club. Right now United won’t finish in the top 6 next season.

I’m hugely disappointed that Brighton sacked Chris Hughton. I like the Bloom brothers. The club is lucky to be in the ownership of a ‘fan’ - Tony Bloom. It’s rare these days. But come on Tony - what didn’t Chris do this season that suggested you’d progressed again? He was a whisker from an FA Cup Final. He delivered that experience and kept you up. What else can a club of Brighton’s stature expect? I’m bemused, but I’ll retain an affection for the club! I know this as well though - somebody is going to get a really good man when they appoint Hughton.

I got two of the bottom 3 right. I was wrong about Watford. They’ve had another fantastic year - whatever happens next Saturday at Wembley.

Marco Silva didn’t better Big Sam’s finish, but Everton ended the season well. It’s to be hoped they push on again next time round.

Wolves were terrific. It was a pleasure watching them.

Well done West Ham - although I’m not sure finishing three places better then they did last season justified a £100m spend.

Eddie Howe and Bournemouth have big decisions to make. If they hadn’t had such a bright start they’d have been in real trouble. Has Howe taken them as far as he can? Perhaps it’s time for both to look elsewhere?

Ralf Hassenhutl did his job. And did it very well. And what about Dychey? Brilliant again. No nonsense. No frills. He ground out a comfortable finish after the flirtation with Europe had got Burnley into terrible trouble. There’s a lesson there for the smaller clubs.

I’m finishing by returning to my original question. Was it the best title race in history? It was good. It was very very good. But the best? I would say ‘one of...’