The 2025-26 season ended in delight in footballing terms with the FA Cup and Champions League being secured but tragically on personal terms for me with my baby. We finished top of the league on goal difference after being closely pursued by Carlo Ancelotti’s Arsenal.
April began wonderfully with a 4-1 victory over Southampton courtesy of another Kylian Mbappé hat-trick. This was closely followed just three days later with a trip to Wembley for a Manchester Derby in the FA Cup Semi-Final. We defeated out city rivals 3-2 in extra-time thanks to a 114th minute Leon Bailey winner. We returned to the Champions League with another Italian opponent after Fiorentina as we faced Internazionale in the quarter-finals. We smashed them 4-0 at home before a 1-0 defeat at the Giuseppe Meazza sent us into the semi-finals with a 4-1 aggregate score. We came back to domestic football against a Champions League-chasing Liverpool team and lost out as Loric Kasongo scored an 81st minute winner for The Reds. Another Champions League chasing team followed in the form of West Ham United and we seemingly ended their chances of such European qualification thanks to a late, late Luigi Bruno 95th minute winner. Blackburn Rovers were flattened 6-0 before we flew back to Milan for the third Italian team in a row in the Champions League as we faced AC Milan. The home leg gave Milan a handy draw with two away goals before we lost a crucial title-race game against Arsenal 4-0 with Federico Chiesa bagging a brace for Ancelotti’s side which sent the title race down to the wire.
In May we began poorly as we lost 3-2 to Newcastle United in another crucial game which could have cost us the Premier League title. We returned to the San Siro for the second time in two months as the away leg of the Champions League Semi-Final against AC Milan took place. They arguably had the advantage with two away goals so it was absolutely pivotal that we won this game which we did late on as Kylian Mbappé scored a 91st-minute winner to send us to the Stadio Olimpico. We won the Premier League title on the final day against Fulham as Arsenal beat Blackburn 4-0 and we beat Fulham 3-1, leading to a win on goal difference as the season came to a close. The FA Cup Final followed a week later against Everton which was finished in extra-time with a late Dele Alli winner in the 116th minute. Finally, our biggest game of the season arrived at the end of May as we played AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League Final. Monaco had surprised everyone in the Semi-Final 2nd leg as they headed into the tie 3-0 down against Real Madrid, but returned a 6-1 scoreline at home to send them into the final. We ended the season with an incredible 5-0 victory against Thierry Henry’s side with Nobuhiro Furuya leading us to the title with a first-half hat-trick.
Manchester United and Liverpool finished level on points in the Champions League qualification spots, five points ahead of 5th placed Tottenham Hotspur who qualified for the Europa League alongside Chelsea and West Ham United (thanks to our wins in the League Cup and FA Cup).
There was a blatant divide between the top and bottom half this season with Everton stuck in-between the two halves.
All of the promoted teams from the Championship this season were all relegated straight away with Leeds United only managing to lift themselves from the foot of the table late on, being replaced at the bottom by Brentford. Blackburn Rovers were five points away from safety with my AC Oulu successor Simo Valakari in charge at Ewood Park.
The three relegated sides will be replaced by the Championship title-winners Wolverhampton Wanderers, who dominated the second tier by amassing 104 points with Adam Idah and Luka Jovic finishing as the top two scorers in the division whilst playing for Christian Lonstrupp’s side. Stoke City also safely secured an instant return to the top flight by finishing 2nd by 12 points. It was West Bromwich Albion who won the Play-Off Final with a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough, earning a return to the Premier League.
This season is without doubt the best season of my career as we lifted six out of the available seven trophies this season. The only one we missed out on - the FA Community Shield - was decided on penalties as we drew 3-3 with Arsenal after extra-time. We retain the Premier League for a third season running as the club wins its 11th Premier League title as we slowly catch up with our rivals Man United’s 20 titles and Liverpool who equal that record.
With our 5-0 final victory against AS Monaco, we won the club's third Champions League trophy after winning it last year under Ancelotti and in 2019 with Pep Guardiola. We are well on our way to becoming a truly established player on the world stage, catching up with everyone else’s title count one trophy at a time.
We took the Club World Cup title away from Real Madrid this year after winning our first back in 2019 as we defeated our affiliate club New York City FC in the Semi-Finals before finishing off Independiente with a 4-1 scoreline in the Final in South Korea.
The UEFA Super Cup was also taken away from Real Madrid this season, winning our second title with a 1-0 win over Juventus during an international break, meaning most players from both sides were unavailable. Niklas Sule scored an early goal which ultimately made us champions of this award.
The FA Cup was won with an extra-time 3-2 win after Dele Alli scored the winner in the 116th minute against Steve McClaren’s Everton side who finished 10th in the Premier League. McClaren was sacked the day after the FA Cup Final loss.
The League Cup was won in February with a 2-0 win over Chelsea as both Luigi Bruno and Mauro Icardi bagged goals to win our third trophy at the time.
2025-26 Best XI
In this year’s best eleven, Ederson makes the grade over January signing Juan Otálvaro following some outstanding performances in the first half of the campaign.
His defensive four that earned best eleven finishes consisted of Patrick Handwerker, who signed for his Schalke release clause of £74 million last summer. Nélson Semedo won his spot at right-back for the majority of the season despite him getting older now. Andrea Marcato is still only 22 years old yet he has matured into an absolutely sensational centre-back that could become the new Vincent Kompany if he sticks around at the club long enough. He was joined by Niklas Sule, who won the Super Cup for us earlier this year with the only goal of the game.
Nobuhiro Furuya features in the best eleven in the midfield two alongside Alexandr Golovin. The Japanese midfielder starred in the Champions League Final and arguably won us the trophy with a hat-trick in the first-half. Golovin was also incredibly good at going forward as both him, Furuya and Kovacic all scored a combined 30 goals this season.
Leroy Sané still possesses his blistering pace which earned him a lot of plaudits when he first joined years ago. This season he contributed 18 goals to the total meanwhile Leon Bailey netted 20 goals in less games than the German. Bailey has proven to be a very shrewd purchase by then-manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The two strikers, Icardi and Mbappé complemented each other unbelievably well, even by their own standards. Mbappé had his best season in his career yet with 58 goals in just 62 games, averaging almost a goal every game including 36 goals coming in the Premier League.
On the bench, Juan Otálvaro features alongside out £100million purchase of Matthijs De Ligt who actually struggled to get in ahead of Marcato and Sule this season thanks to their own quality. Dele Alli had another superb season at the club with 15 goals in just 44 appearances. We have renewed the contract of 33-year-old left-back David Alaba as I believe that he still has some necessary qualities needed as a back-up to Handwerker. However, Kevin De Bruyne will be departing the club after completing ten years at the club.
Overall Best XI
In comparison with the overall best eleven since 2018/19, both John Stones (now at Huddersfield) and Raphael Varane (now at Roma) make up the centre-backs as opposed to Marcato and Sule. Álex Grimaldo (now at Shakhtar Donetsk) also replaces both Handwerker and Alaba at the left-back spot but Nélson Semedo retains his spot.
Bernardo Silva (now at Real Madrid) also replaces Leon Bailey who is moved down to the bench out on the right-wing. Dele Alli pushes Mauro Icardi down to the bench as the City squad was more accustomed to a 4-2-3-1 formation under Guardiola, Emery and Ancelotti as opposed to our goal-crazy 4-4-2 in order to fit in both of our incredible strikers.
We will have to find out how much of a toll it takes on Virtanen...
It was a sad piece to write for sure, especially knowing people who have had to suffer similar experiences. We will have to see where this takes the couple!