And so we reach the end of the Premier League season…well, not quite. For those of you with hangovers so enormous on Sunday you couldn’t even open your eyes to check your phone, let alone stumble into the living room to turn on the TV, Manchester United’s final game against Bournemouth was called off due to a security alert at Old Trafford raised by a suspect package.
Monday's Daily Mirror back page:
Code Red#tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers #OldTrafford pic.twitter.com/VyTDq520n1
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) May 15, 2016
Some 70,000 supporters were evacuated, and the suspicious device destroyed in a controlled explosion, before it emerged that it was actually a dummy bomb left behind on a recent security training day. With United reportedly set to shell out £3m in refunds, as well as letting fans in free for Tuesday’s rearranged game, we would not want to be the person who was tasked with collecting all the props after last week’s stadium exercise. No siree…
The only person who arguably had an even worse day on Sunday was Mauricio Pochettino, who bemoaned Tottenham’s 5-1 thrashing by ten-man Newcastle as his “worst day as a manager”. On the other bench, Rafa Benitez’s response to the result has raised hopes on Tyneside that he might stay for a Championship promotion push: “My heart is saying yes. It’s a fantastic opportunity and atmosphere but you have to use your brain too.”
His brain is definitely saying ‘no’.
Spurs’ defeat allowed Arsenal to jump above their north London rivals to finish second for the first time since 2005, but the real story is that Leicester, who bagged a 1-1 draw at Chelsea, finished a whopping 10 points clear – one more than the gap from Arsenal all the way down to West Ham in seventh. It truly has been a remarkable season for the Foxes and in particular Andy King (whose interview with Ian Ladyman you can read here), who has been through it all with the club from League One to Premier League champions.
In other news, Monday brings the announcement of Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2016. There are places for Andros Townsend and Jack Wilshere, but Theo Walcott misses out. The real issue for Hodgson, though, is whether or not he starts Wayne Rooney in France: Daniel Taylor dissects that one here.
You may have read Charles Ducksbury’s Sheffield Wednesday article on TSP last week (if not, why not?) before the Owls earned a 2-0 advantage over Brighton in their Championship play-off semi-final. Monday sees the two teams meet again at The Amex, with Seagulls boss Chris Hughton fretting over the fitness of four players – Tomer Hemed, Anthony Knockaert, Connor Goldson and Steve Sidwell – who all went off injured in Friday’s first leg.
Monday: Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday, Sky Sports 1, 19.45
If there is an upside to the farce at Old Trafford on Sunday, it’s that there’s more midweek football to watch. Of course, with United needing to win by 19 goals to pip City to fourth, this is as dead-rubber as they come, but it should be interesting to see Louis van Gaal blood the youth ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final against Crystal Palace.
And if United v Bournemouth doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s always Hull v Derby. Just don’t check the first-leg score if you’re looking for a close-run contest…
Tuesday: Manchester United v Bournemouth, Sky Sports, 20.00
Hull v Derby, Sky Sports 1, 19.45
We all know there’s only one game you’ll be watching on Wednesday and it’s Accrington Stanley versus AFC Wimbledon in the League Two play-off semi-final second leg, right? Right??
Elsewhere, Liverpool take on Sevilla in the small matter of the Europa League final. Victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side would see them claim their first European silverware since 2005, as well as a place in the Champions League and the hearts of the 18 Reds fans who will be at the match in Basel after somehow beating the ridiculous allocation to get their hands on a ticket.
Sevilla have the horn for this competition, though – winning it last year, the year before, 2007 and 2006 – and one win plus seven defeats in their last nine La Liga matches suggests they’ve been resting up for a good two months now in preparation for the big night.
Wednesday: Liverpool v Sevilla, BT Sport Europe, 19.45
Accrington Stanley v Wimbledon, Sky Sports 1, 19.45
There’s some excellent tea-time TV on Thursday as the England kids kick-off the Toulon Tournament against Portugal, while for the masochistic among you, there’s always the Bundesliga relegation play-off on BT.
Thursday: England U20 v Portugal U20, BT Sport Europe, 18.30
Frankfurt v Nurnberg, BT Sport Extra 2, 18.30
Walsall v Barnsley, Sky Sports 1, 19.45
If you’re desperately holding out to pay-day and staying in on Friday…
Friday: Millwall v Bradford, Sky Sports 1, 19.45
And finally, European cup final day!
Saturday: Crystal Palace v Man United, FA Cup final, BBC One/BT Sport 2, 17.30
Rangers v Hibs, Scottish Cup final, BBC One Scotland/Sky Sports 1, 15.00
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund, DFB Pokal final, BT Sport Europe, 19.00
AC Milan v Juventus, Coppa Italia final, Sky Sports 2, 19.45
New York City v New York Red Bulls, Hudson River derby (look out for our write-up next week), Sky Sports 5, 20.00
Sunday: England v Turkey, international friendly, ITV, 17.15
Barcelona v Sevilla, Copa del Rey, 20.30
For all this week’s TV listings come right this way.
ONE TO READ ON TSP
Since hanging up his boots, former Ireland, Wimbledon and Man City defender Terry Phelan has been on a round-the-world adventure. Owen Amos caught up with him at Kerala Blasters in India to hear about his experiences:
NON-FOOTBALL THING OF THE WEEK
We’re finding the Pocket app to be a handy little life tool.