TV View: Spare a thought for Roy Keane as United toast top four

Irish fans grimace as Jack Grealish and Declan Rice embrace at the end of the game

Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood in action on the final day of “the extraordinarily elongated campaign”. Photograph: Getty Images

Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood in action on the final day of “the extraordinarily elongated campaign”. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The 2019-20 Premier League season was beginning to feel so long you began to wonder if Mason Greenwood was even born when it kicked off, “the extraordinarily elongated campaign”, as Sky’s Martin Tyler described it, finally coming to an end in the middle of an extraordinarily weird summer.

And nobody, you’d guess, would have been happier about its conclusion than golf fans who tuned in to Sky Golf on Sunday afternoon in the hope of seeing the early stages of the final round of the 3M Open in Minnesota. Instead, they were treated to Everton v Bournemouth at Goodison Park where Bournemouth needed a hole in one combined with Aston Villa missing the cut against West Ham if they were to avoid relegation.

David Jones didn’t even apologise to the golf fans, simply boasting that Sky were using their sundry platforms to bring us eight - EIGHT- live games simultaneously. Even Burnley v Brighton. And for fear not even Burnley or Brighton fans would tune in to that one, David Jones reminded us that “there’s something at stake in that game too - Nick Pope is chasing the Golden Glove” Somehow, Roy Keane resisted bouncing with excitement in his studio chair.

And while he tried to appear enthusiastic about Manchester United’s efforts to finish only 33 points behind Liverpool and qualify for the Champions League, you sensed he felt this was akin to Martin Scorsese settling for directing Fair City.

Was there a lot of pressure on them to clinch that Champions League slot, David asked. “Pressure on Man United to get a result against Leicester City (!) to finish in the top four?! Give me a break. Don’t get me started on that.”

In the end, United succeeded in their mission, but if they hire an open-top bus and parade around their home city under a ‘Top Four! Whooooo Hoooooo!’ banner, you suspect Roy will personally clamp the bus’s wheels.

Incidentally, spare a thought for the poor lad who placed a bet on Jesse Lingard not helping himself to a single goal or assist all season. Ninety-seven minutes and 52 seconds in to the final game of the campaign, having not helped himself to a single goal or assist all season, who scored? Yeah.

Jack Grealish and Declan Rice in action at the London Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Getty Images
Jack Grealish and Declan Rice in action at the London Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Getty Images

Only one person had a more trying day and that was BT Sport’s Jake Humphrey. Under the rules of Ofcom, the UK’s broadcasting regulator, telly people are obliged to apologise every time we hear a rude word uttered, so when the Aston Villa players celebrated their avoidance of relegation with cries of ‘****ING GET IN!’, ‘****ING YESSSSSS!’, ‘****ING FANTASTIC’, ‘WE ARE ****ING STAYING UP!’, Jake was nearly hoarse from saying sorry.

Villa manager Dean Smith, meanwhile, unapologetically declared that “we used the pandemic really well”, while also saluting the hero of the day, former future Irish international Jack Grealish. That moment when he and Declan Rice embraced at the end of the game? Stephen Kenny would have been forgiven for pouring a triple brandy. No matter, it is what it is, we are where we are, we go again, we move on, and all those other things gutted gaffers say.

And gutted is the only word for Sunday being David Silva’s final league game in England, watching the fella the past decade making every day feel like a Super Sunday. “Since I retired I think of players I would have liked to play against,” said Roy. “He’s one I’m glad I was never around to play against. Because I know he would have twisted me inside out. An absolute little genius.”

Come the end of the day, David tried to lift the spirits of Premier League-o-philes who wondered how on earth they’d fill their lives now that the season is done, reminding them that the new campaign would be up and running in a few wet weeks, September 12th to be exact.

“But it’s the end of the Premier League for now,” he said, “it is time for other sports to take centre stage - boxing is back! On Saturday: Ted Cheeseman v Sam Eggington! ” Micah Richards just about stifled one of those epically terrific giggles of his, perhaps thinking like ourselves that this bout sounded a little like a grilled sandwich. Roll on September 12th.

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