A Fork in the Road

A full week with no midweek games.  We haven’t had this in a while.

It’s nice to just look around, see how far this team has come, and breathe it all in.

There is a huge amount still at stake in our final two games.  I don’t even want to think about what happens if we lose our last two games…  Does this make the season a failure?  This team has been an inspiration to watch and we are undoubtedly one of the top teams in Spain and across Europe.  But Champions League spots are not given out of sympathy or merit.  They are given based on strict qualifying rules.

I don’t think that its too much of a stretch to say that this team is at a fairly meaningful crossroads.  If either of our two paths bring us to the Champions League next year, I’m optimistic about our off season.  I think Emery will stay.  We might have the money to keep at least a few of Krychowiak, Mbia, and Bacca.  Truthfully, that stability in the team could set this team on a course for even better performances over the next 5-10 years.

And if we don’t manage to make the CL?  Well, then the future is much less certain.  The rumors around Emery have gotten pretty strong.  A team like Man U or Real Madrid are likely to take Krycho.  Bacca could similarly be headed for a top Premier team.  And Mbia, without the draw of Champions League will likely either find a CL team that does want him or head for a larger salary elsewhere.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world.  Afterall, this year’s team was the product of a similar situation at the end of last season with Rakitic, Fazio, and Moreno all leaving.  But it’s an unpleasant and uncomfortable recurrent nightmare, seeing the players we grow attached to heading off to play in other leagues or for our rivals.

We are a good team.  A very good team.  But to truly start being considered as one of Europe’s best, we need stability.  For stability we need revenues, we need championships, and we need Champions League football.  We can make a big contribution to all three of those causes over the next two games.

This is why we follow and love this team.