You can tell that the cricket season has started. The final overs of the football season were marked by a rush of players joining Fergie to draw stumps on their sporting careers.
By the final whistle, what had started off as just a pageant to the golden generation (Becks, Scholes, Owen and if we’re being generous, Carragher), became a retirement stampede of golden oldies, as footballers across the land stepped into the team bath for the last time. Even the referees were at it.
So far we’ve managed to resist this craze, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this now. Though there have been moments when we’ve thought about throwing in the towel, somehow the idea seems as appealing as walking out on a movie that you’ve long queued to get into and spent a fortune on popcorn once inside.
Fittingly, quite a few pundits have turned to the movies to summarise the season that has just ended. The BBC’s Colin Murray couldn’t resist a reference to Quantum of Solace to describe a campaign which he thought “lacked a real climax and, if truth be told, we’d worked out what was going to happen well before the final credits”. Whilst the excellent Barney Ronay, writing in the Guardian, makes mischief with Beckham and Superman, before saving his best for a wonderful characterisation of John Terry’s podium friendly, wardrobe changes, which have turned him into “the kind of boy who insists on wearing his Spider-Man suit to a wedding.”
One movie this season certainly hasn’t been is the Great Escape. Instead of joining Tom and Dick, ‘Arry’s tunnel at QPR ended up so far short of the barbed-wire fence that it might have been quicker to wait for the war to end. And it would seem that Roberto Martinez finally preferred the silver parachute of the FA Cup rather than another season digging for victory at Wigan.
For the London clubs the only film in town was Groundhog Day. Arsenal and Chelsea end yet another season in the top 4 – again at the expense of Spurs – and Sam Allardyce makes West Ham as resilient as every team he’s ever managed. Just like last year, the concluding spectrum of expectations for what lies down the yellow brick road for each club contains all the colours of the rainbow. From the implausible blocks of gold at the Bridge (we like to call it Russian Racing Yellow), to the paler hues of French Impressionism at the Emirates, to the stormy brooding blues and blacks at the Lane, a colourful summer appears to beckon.
We’ll see who makes the biggest splash very shortly when the transfer activity kicks off. Before then a final chance to see if anyone made a splash predicting the final games of the season.
THE FINAL TABLES
On a last day marked by a palpable absence of drama, unless you count Spurs’ failure to better Arsenal’s result at Newcastle, the scores had a whiff of pre-season about them. Notably at the Etihad where Norwich marked the post-Mancini era by walking off with the points and of course at the Hawthorns, where Fergie added to his collection of unrepeatable career numbers with a 5-5 draw to conclude his 1500th game in charge.
Very possibly you had to be an old pro to have seen any of this coming, which explains why Lawro sits smugly on top of our final table of the season. Though with a relatively modest 11 points to his name he’s really just the tallest dwarf in town, which we knew anyway, as those shirt collars he wears on Match Of The Day were clearly designed for a bigger man.
As ever you will find a full breakdown of all the predictions for week 38 of the season on the results page. Tearing a page from the UEFA coaching manual may we suggest that some of you print them off and stick them to the wall of your caravan this summer. Apart from providing a welcome distraction from watching the rain clouds form, it may provide that extra motivation you need to do better next season.
Normally this is the point when we ask you to exercise that prediction finger to make your forecasts for the forthcoming weekend. In the absence of any Premier League action, and if you haven’t already done so, we are hoping that our brief blog survey (see the link below) might satisfy any cravings to exercise those forefinger muscles.