By Chris Rowland.
Unless you’ve been living in Alpha Centauri for the last few weeks, you will have seen the Premier League draw to its relatively mundane close amidst a valedictory orgy of high profile managers and players departing the scene. Fans everywhere seemed to be saying goodbye to a ‘club legend’ as they did their hand-waving, crowd-clapping, microphone speech-making final tours. More than a few fans were wiping away a tear, no doubt experiencing that lurching, pit of the stomach feeling of impending uncertainty, especially at Old Trafford.
As this whole raft of part-of-the-furniture managers and players exited stage left, it prompted me to speculate whether we have just witnessed a watershed moment in the Premier League. The snow scene glass ornament has certainly been given a vigorous shake. There’s an end-of-empire feel about it – and I’m not just talking about Ferguson, of whom more later. The PL does not seem quite the same place as it’s been for – well, too long really. There’s even the outside possibility of a change of playing style at Stoke to come to terms with …
It’s as if Spring is suddenly bursting into life after the long cruel lock-down of winter, a first thawing of the permafrost. Significant chunks of the old order have been overturned. Is it really the dawning of the age of Aquarius, or is it all illusory, and it’ll just end up being the same as it ever was?
As far as departing players are concerned, while we were saying terrah lad to Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Steve Harper were all also heading for the showers for the last time, all with a great deal of affection from their various sets of fans. Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov also retired, for well-documented health reasons, and everybody hopes for the best for him. He’s been in remission since August 2012, so let’s hope it stays that way.
Over in Paris, it was announced that Beckham was also quitting, a fact almost criminally overlooked by the media! The playing careers of Frank Lampard, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and maybe John Terry are also on their last legs, with Steven Gerrard not too far behind. It seems ‘the golden generation’ is being melting down round about the same time, their potential unfulfilled (internationally speaking), their sheen tarnished. England were definitely going onto great things with this generation, weren’t they?
As for the managerial merry-go-round, that’s where the real significant changes lie. There was David Moyes’ emotional last game in charge at Goodison against West Ham before he swapped one Force of Darkness for another, the end of Martinez at Wigan and seemingly his arrival at Goodison, and of course most tellingly of all, the Abdication at Old Trafford.
First came the announcement of the resignation, then the announcement of the Succession. Then the last home game. Then the last game, at WBA. His all-consuming dark shadow blocked out the light from everything else, and has done for years. There were more encores than a Status Quo gig in the 1970s.
The rest of this article is for Subscribers only.