Another year, another season of domestic football around Europe over as Atletico Madrid won the Spanish League title at the Nou Camp and Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought after an extra-time winner in the FA Cup against Hull at Wembley.
Aaron Ramsey was the hero for the Gunners with his late goal but they were made work for their precious silverware after Hull took a surprise two-goal lead inside the first eight minutes courtesy of James Chester and Curtis Davies. Santi Cazorla hit back just under ten minutes later with a crucial goal from a free kick that allowed Arsenal’s nerves to settle and helped them to regain their composure with plenty of time to search for the equaliser. After a couple of penalties were denied to Arsenal by the referee, there was outrage in the BT studio when a corner kick was incorrectly awarded to Arsenal from which Laurent Koscielny duly bagged the equaliser and the plucky underdog narrative looked to be waning away.
Viewers watching on TV had the unenviable choice between Andy Townsend on ITV or Michael Owen on BT; like choosing what kind of drill you want your brain lobotomised with. Allied with Michael Owen’s dulcet tones was Neil Warnock’s voice, coming in every now and again as if from nowhere but presumably from the studio. ITV had the pick of the panels however, with the familiar line-up of Roy Keane and Lee Dixon alongside Adrian Chiles, who were also joined by Gilet-enthusiast and former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood. The former Spurs man will no doubt be devastated to see his ex-employer’s derby rivals finally win a trophy, or if Spurs fans are to be believed, Sherwood will be delighted as he is a boyhood Arsenal fan. He loses his job but there’s always a silver-lining somewhere. Watch his Goals on Sunday interview below.
Four-four-Tim’s co-panelist Lee Dixon was somewhat bemused to the nature of the celebrations involving Arsene Wenger after the match as Lukas Podolski led the drenching in champagne and subsequent bumps of the usually dignified Frenchman. Dixon speculated that Wenger “would not be comfortable with this at all” but, despite briefly holding his back after the ordeal, the 64 year-old took the celebrations well. “Is this something you ever considered doing to Sir Alex Ferguson?” asked Adrian Chiles of Roy Keane. “Yeah we’d like to throw him up and not catch him” Keane replied, quick as a flash, almost like that answer was on the tip of his tongue for an age but the question hadn’t been asked. Chiles lobbed it up nicely for Keano to knock it out of the park.
Atletico finished a superb domestic season in style, holding Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp after losing two of their best players – Diego Costa and Arda Turan – to injury and going a goal down thanks to a rocket from Alexis Sanchez that seemed to defy the laws of physics. Diego Simeone’s men showed their character in scoring the equaliser and then surviving the Barca onslaught. An unbelievable achievement by the Argentine and his players; the Champions League Final against their city rivals Real Madrid now awaits the league heroes. Watch Sky’s La Liga goals of the season below to get your fix before Saturday’s final.
Soccer Republic on RTÉ Two was the host of an interesting and controversial debate after Shamrock Rovers’ friendly match against Liverpool in the Aviva Stadium. Former Shelbourne manager Dermot Keely was outspoken in his views towards the Irish Liverpool fans that went to see their team at Lansdowne Road, describing them as “42,000 morons”. Keely went on to express his disbelief at how “Irish people cannot support an Irish league”. As Keely was speaking, a ticker-tape banner rolled out by RTE along the bottom of the screen read “It is more expensive to buy a season ticket for many League of Ireland clubs than to purchase one at Bayern Munich.”
Richie Sadlier defended the “morons” and touched on a similar note to RTE’s scrolling fact, pointing out that “the notion that Irish people, by virtue of their Irishness, should support Irish football ignores discussion on facilities, standard of play, how clubs are run…if you simplify it to ‘well they’re Irish therefore go’, it’s far more complex than that”. Keely also seemed to have a problem with the fact it was a reserve Liverpool team and derided goalkeeper Brad Jones after he let him go at Shelbourne; a point that seemed to bemuse Sadlier to no end. Watch the full discussion below.
With the Champions League final set to air on RTÉ Two on Saturday night, there promises to be more debate and conversation on foreign leagues and teams, whether they be English or not.
John O’Connor, Pundit Arena.