Opinion: Conference that

Gareth Bale Ryan Mason
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

In the end, for all the frustration of Harry Kane potentially leaving, a defence that can never be counted on not to make crippling mistakes, a misfiring forward line, an interim manager who decided to reward friends and punish a couple of our best players—for all of that, when the handball was ruled not to have disallowed Bale’s first goal and we realised that not only had we ruined Leicester’s hopes but we now stood ahead of THEM—well let’s get this over the line, lads! And they did. We will have a new manager—presumably a new striker—hopefully several new defenders—playing in a competition that hasn’t existed before among the dregs of Europe. But it could have been worse. Hardly makes up for all the negatives—and as is already being pointed out, the Top Four as presently constituted will be brutally difficult to displace—and perhaps for more than one or two seasons. But gives us something to smile about.

As for the specifics, the two errors were, of course, rather comical. In neither case was Vardy truly threatening our goal—he was just being Vardy the pest. And he went to ground so easily, particularly after Sanchez’ trip—that I really wanted all the smug celebrations among him, his teammates and the Foxes fans to be dashed into the King Power turf. So thank you Spurs for doing just that.

We were but for two small segments—one in each half—and those two errors the better side throughout. More energetic, more aggressive, more dangerous. Only of course the final pass, the well placed shot, the link ups were never there. The first goal came as a result of effort and a good bounce and a typically impeccable volleyed finish by our soon to be former talisman.

The second was a gift from Schmeichel. The third the best of the bunch as some really hard work finally paid off when Kane found Bale in perfect position for an emphatic finish. The last I wondered about, not knowing if Salah had or would score, since a layoff by Bale to Kane would almost certainly have guaranteed the Golden Boot. But Kane won it anyway and nice work for Bale to just keep at it and get the easy tap-in of his own rebound.  We didn’t go to the beach. 

To give Mason the benefit of the doubt—for Dele played pretty well if not always technically great, and for once Winks didn’t ever make a killer mistake—maybe he knew that Tanguy and Gio didn’t have their hearts in this game. Maybe we’ll hear more about both later—perhaps there was an injury knock. But the fact that the La Mafia of Sissoko, Aurier and Ndombele were nowhere to be found in Leicester and that we know one will certainly depart, the other seems to be aching for a return to PSG, and the third has know been left out of the starting XI for a month must cause some concern about our talented midfielder. But that is a problem for the next manager, and now we await the two conclusions to the big points of drama—who will it be in charge, and where we will sell him to?

Seventh place. Fair result. Fine. Beating Leicester at the death. Glad we could inflict some pain on someone in this disappointing season. Were those three goals yesterday the last we’ll see from either of our two superstars of the past dozen years? Probably. At least the final memories were good ones. That’s all we have now.

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