With all the goodbyes on Sunday, one slipped under the radar. John Nicholson says we won't miss Michael Owen because, for the last few years anyway, he hasn't really been here...
Being sniffy about the Europa League is ridiculous. All football is inherently pointless and this competition is no more pointless than any other. Well done Rafa and Chelsea...
There is nothing quite like one of the English football hierarchy suffering relegation, which is why there is something irresistibly delicious about Aston Villa's slump. It happens all too infrequently in modern football and now we have the prospect of Villa being in a lower division for only the second time since 1975.
In 1987 they finished bottom of what at the time was called the Today First Division. That sounds like some sort of existential statement but Today was a now-long-defunct newspaper. They went down for one season. Since then, they have bestridden the middle ground of the top flight - always nearly quite good or always nearly quite awful but ending up as neither. One of England's most successful, ancient clubs is going down. Brilliant. Dry your Aston tears, you are giving us so much pleasure with your decline.
Wanting to see a big club relegated isn't some crime against Villa fans specifically, it would be the same if it was any other long-established top-flight club. Villa fans might think they'd had it tough for a few seasons but really, you dine off the cream of unimagined wealth and luxury unavailable to 90% of all other football clubs. You are rich beyond the dreams of avarice, you are simply not as rich as a tiny few other clubs, that's why you feel skint and hard done by. But you are not skint or hard done by, you are just a rubbish football team and by god, that first half against Newcastle you were an exceptionally rubbish football team.
But you see, while you were having your dozen top-ten top-flight finishes in the last 20 years, the rest of us football supporters have been up and down more times than a girl I knew whose nickname was 'yo-yo knickers'. We have lived outside the rarefied elite, we are the groundlings, the scruffy poor, condemned to be forever hanging on in quiet desperation. We know nothing of your top-six Premier League finishes. Welcome to our world.
The possibility that a club which has had more money put into it than 90% of other league clubs can be cast out of the top flight is a rare instance of a kind of democracy where the one with the most money doesn't win. It feels good to know that it is possible to cock things up so mightily that you can lose your top-flight status. There is always hope for change and Villa is illustrating this perfectly.
I recall Manchester United being relegated in 1974 and Spurs a couple of years later. It was brilliant, rather like seeing a rich Tory landowner made bankrupt through arrogant, self-indulgent spending. The masses love nothing more than seeing the elite take a kicking, especially a complacent elite who, because they mix with even richer, more wealthy people, mistake their own wealth for poverty. There's no fun in seeing a small, relatively poor club like Wigan or Norwich being rubbish. That's like kicking an asthmatic boy and stealing his dinner money, by contrast, Villa are the big strapping jock who gets all the girls and man, you just want them to take a kicking to the soft dangly bits so badly, don't you? This is why we shall dance of Villa's Premier League grave.
We also know that it usually isn't long before the elite reassert their hegemony, so this is our rare and brief chance to celebrate and celebrate it we shall.
And to all Villa fans who feel so desperate, let me tell you, relegation is under-rated as a pleasure. Going down is not at all bad. You get to play worse teams than you a lot and win much more. It's fun and it's real. If the Premier League is the plastic glamour model, the lower divisions are more plain girls but with lovely real breasts. This is all good.
The people who weep on the last day of a relegation season are fools. Better days are ahead and even if it's the start of a long and bitter decline to the Conference, cheer up, it's only football and it doesn't really matter. But for now, Villa fans, excuse us please, we have some laughing and pointing to do.