And so the end has come once again, the moment every ardent soccer fan dreads; the final kick of the ball, the last high-pitched call of the whistle, and the customary sign-off from FOX Soccer and ESPN (in the States) and Gary Lineker and the boys (in the UK).
It has been a long and eventful season in the Barclays Premier League, a mixed bag of triumphs and tumult, and once again the red side of Manchester is caught up in jubilant victory songs.
At the other end of the spectrum, the battle has not been so predictable, with the scrap for relegation promising to go right to the wire until Arsenal crushed Wigan’s hopes of yet another miraculous escape. Speaking of Arsenal, the North London club have kept things interesting in the tussle for a Champions League spot despite having to nurse a fresh wound from another big name departure, though once again they have finished the season empty handed.
During the past 10 months of domestic affairs, the English elite have come up short in the Champions League, upstaged by their German counterparts whose pursuit of European glory has been somewhat of a procession. There is some consolation to be had for Chelsea of course, after lifting the Europa League on Wednesday night, but next season the big hitters will all be looking to do much better in one foreign ground.
However, the priority for every team is to make their mark in their own back yard, and when August comes around after the idle days of summer and money-spinning pre-season tours have finished, serious business will commence. In soccer, few things are certain, particularly for less wealthy outfits that will have to perform a precarious balancing act, giving their supporters palpitations aplenty. But in the upper echelons, a new dawn is on the horizon, and a major shuffling of the pack at United, Manchester City and Chelsea promises to ruffle the feathers of fans who have lived a charmed life in the past few years.
With the last of the dinosaurs, Sir Alex Ferguson, now riding off into the sunset with one final notch on his hefty championship belt, the newly crowned victors will be starting from scratch under the stewardship of the wily Glaswegian David Moyes, the third longest serving manager currently operating in the league. Having been commanded and protected by Ferguson for so long, there are more than a few whispers of trepidation circulating Old Trafford, and Moyes will be under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed, especially now in an age where patience is a virtue that only a few in soccer possess.