The sporting week ahead (19/05/13)


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The Independent Online


So that's it from him... and him... and them. Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez sign off for their final League games as managers of Manchester United and Chelsea respectively, while Wigan, Reading and QPR drop into the division of the great unwashed. But there is no getting away from the fact that the final day of the Premier League season will lack the usual drama. Only Sky, and a section of north London, can hyperventilate about the fight for fourth place; the rest us can remember this time last year and a day when Fergie wasn't smiling. At Wembley, meanwhile, Brentford and Yeovil Town shoot it out in the League One play-off final.


Monday nights now mean Super League for the summer, with Leeds versus St Helens a bumper opener.


This week the Lions are preparing for the tour of Australia in Ireland, a country that their coach, Warren Gatland, knows well. As a former Ireland coach, Gatland will know what not to say, namely referring to his squad as the British Lions, which is as much a mistake over there as making reference to the British Isles. Curiously, the Irish don't even have a name for that geographical region. It's Britain and Ireland, thank you very much. So now you know.


Durham v Middlesex is the pick of the games in the County Championship.


Sorry, forget that stuff about farewell Rafa Benitez. Today he leads out Chelsea in the first match of their summer tour against Manchester City in St Louis in the United States. Football never really goes away, does it? In golf, the BMW PGA Championship begins in Wentworth.


There's not much of a break for England's cricketers either, with the Second Test against New Zealand beginning at Headingley four days after the last one finished.


Germany arrives en masse at Wembley, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund facing off in the Champions' League final. When one of them win, it will at least force Chelsea's supporters to think up a new song. You can't go round chanting "Champions of Europe, we know what we are" if all you've won is the Europa League. Meanwhile, Manchester hosts athletics' BT Great CityGames, while at Twickenham Leicester and Northampton contest rugby union's Premiership final. More adventurous types can head south for the Monaco Grand Prix, for which there is final practice today.