BY KEN DOHERTY
Scriptwriters wouldn’t have had their storyline accepted where Manchester City played Man United in a first FA Cup final this Saturday with the future bragging rights of ‘treble season’ hanging in the balance, would they?
Since 1999 it has been the proud boast of the red side of Manchster that they are the only club to complete the elusive winning of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in the one season.
City have already garnered the first leg by winning the league for the fifth time in six seasons and in my book they are cast-iron certs to beat Inter Milan in the Champions League decider in Istanbul next week as well.
Most people believe that they are also odds-on to win the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday against their neighbours but therein lies the fascination of this unique pairing.
If Pep Guardiola manages to land the treble, they will rightly stand alongside United as one of the greatest teams of this or any era. They have the class and the know-how to win easily… but on the other side of the coin, United players will never have a better incentive to go out and cause a major surprise.
Already qualified for next year’s Champions League and already League Cup winners, a victory would not only turn their season from a respectable first year for Erik Ten Hak but would make the players forever icons as preservers of the ‘Treble’ for the Old Trafford outfit alone.
As a dyed in the wool red, I am hoping the latter happens but I like the game enough to realise that if City win all three trophies, you have to be sporting enough to take your hat off and salute them for their incredible achievement.
It’s been a hectic end of season on the soccer front and I must say the Premier League will be all the poorer for the relegation of Leeds in particular and Leicester. Leeds have the fan base potential to be a really big club but something is not right in their hierarchy and that has cost them by falling back into the championship.
As Leeds fans know only too well, there is no guarantee you can bounce back immediately; indeed it took them the guts of 20 years to return the last time the slipped through that trapdoor.
Leicester were the Cinderela team of recent times. A team normally fighting relegation, they won the Premier League in 2016 and then followed up a few seasons later by winning the FA Cup for the first time. I suppose there had to be a reality check in all of that and Sunday’s relegation appears to be that jolt back to earth.
And what of Everton? They have been flirting with Championship football more than a few times now in recent years and they too need to get their act together or they will find themselves falling out of the world’s biggest league.
On the GAA front, hurling has exploded onto another level this season with Sunday’s game between Cork and Limerick arguably one of those encounters for the ages. While Limerick were advancing in the Gaelic Ground after a titanic struggle, Wexford were bouncing back in their own patch against Kilkenny, Dave Fitz’s down at heel Waterford side upset the Tipp applecart big time and Galway gave Dublin a 12-point lead only to fight back for the spoils.
Football can’t match that sort of thrill a minute stuff on the hurling front but I was glad to see the Dubs avoid defeat against a very well organised Roscommon outfit in Croke Park on Sunday. All four teams in this group now have one point each, meaning it is still a case of game-on for each county as they contemplate the next two round of games.
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