It was the lesser of two evils for Manchester United fans to see Chelsea pick up their second Champions League title on Saturday night, rather than see Man City win their first.
It was no less than Thomas Tuchel’s side deserved, however, as the German out-thought Pep Guardiola in an intriguing and often exhilarating showpiece in Porto.
And while some United fans may have thought back to their club’s own transfer links with regards to the hero of the night, Kai Havertz, last summer, that’s not particularly the biggest takeaway for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side from the final.
While Solskjaer and Tuchel have something in common in how they’ve proven their ability to beat Guardiola’s free-flowing City in a one-off game — thanks largely to a disciplined defence and a sharp counter-attack — you still feel United have a long way to go if they’re to get close to Champions League glory again.
The Europa League final exposed United’s shortcomings in a big knockout tie, just as previous defeats to Sevilla, Chelsea and City themselves (twice) in semi-finals had done.
Chelsea did not get stagefright in Porto like United did in Gdansk and on other occasions. Solskjaer needs to hold his nerve.
He also needs financial backing. Okay, none of the current Chelsea squad were actually signed to play for Tuchel — he only arrived as Frank Lampard’s successor in January — but Roman Abramovich sanctioned a spending spree of more than £200million in a summer transfer window that was affected by Covid-19. No pandemic-related excuses at Stamford Bridge.
Five of the new arrivals (Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy) started the Champions League final and the most expensive of the lot, Havertz, coolly netted the winner.