Now then let's get this past week out of the way, before I do so let me just orientate you all, when I refer to last year or last season I'm refering to anything that ended in 2011. This year is of course 2012, but in terms of football and hockey the seasons started in 2011, but we are now orientated. So when I mention this year, I'm meaning the season 2011/2012.
So far nearly 6 months into 2012, my sporting loves have ended in disappointment. I shouldn't be unhappy, it's only something I follow, but of course sport grabs you and your emotions are pulled, shoved, shredded by it.
Where do I begin with this topic? Normally over the past 20 years it's been success as a United fan, but had to accept that we haven't won something, we have to be gracious in defeat and know that the next time we win somethng it will feel good to do so. However, I really don't know where to start with how the end of the club season has left me. To start with Europe was awful, it was like a time machine back to 1994, when a very inexperienced United team got taught a lesson by Barca in Camp Nou. That this United team contained quite a few previous Champions League winners and players whom had played in the previous years final was rather perplexing. What went wrong or where?
On one level I think we tactically got it wrong, with due reverance to the manager, whom has won us everything, I think the evolution of tactics of other teams had pased him by. In his defence it could be said and should be said that the tactics that he employed was done so because of the players available. Others had started the season well, in newer formation, and yet once that partnership was disrupted and others brought in, we had to alter our tactics back to more tried and trusted ideas, and whilst they can be effective, it wasn't to be so this season, and not once in one competition, but in two we were simply out played.
Others more articulate and more akin to writing blogs on football can go into details here, this is me writing my thoughts in summary, rather than highlighting everything. So the league form floated around, and whilst trailing for long parts of the season they went top and stretched the lead with just weeks remaining and a quiet glee arose. To see them then throw that away was hard to take, to see it be a local rival was harder to take. Going into last weekend, knowing it wasn't in our hands was easier to take, I was not expecting anything. Yet nearly got it all, it was with the last kick that City won the league, just as we had beaten Bayern to clinch the treble in 99, they had claimed the victory and the title. Add to that two of our bitterest other rivals have won the two other major trophies open to United this season, it's left us without anything. Not uncommon, and something in the 70's and 80's I was used to. This time though the way it all panned against us no matter what, it hurts. Not that I think we could claim to be the "best" in the land or Europe for that matter, but to be so close is perhaps the issue.
Add to that within football, all the other local teams didn't have much better seasons with very few promotions from the North West region of the country and a fair few relegations. This time next year, we'll have to redress that issue.
Well another poor season by the Oilers, though I said I'd be happy with 29th spot, it's clear that this team they have assembled is capable of much more than that. After a bright start the defeats became more regular, and injuries started to hit once again. I'm sure it's easy to become dispirited when this happens and no matter how much to try to do things different, defeats keep coming and injuries occur. Even at the highest level, let alone the lowest levels, where often the way around the hurt of defeat is a few drinks after what ever game you play.
The bright spark for the Oilers this season was the excellent performance by Jordan Eberle and wonderful rookie season by Ryan Nugent Hopkins. These kids along with Taylor Hall, are the future of the franchise, they've got a very talented core of other young players, and now another first overall draft pick to add to the roster. However, sooner or later, for all the talent they'll have to convert that to team success, and move forward. With the talent within the forwards this group of players should at least make one or if not more runs for the Stanley Cup before they either leave the club or retire.
A new coach is coming in for the upcoming season. Perhaps new ideas, new training routines may start to have a positive effect on the players, who knows? Yet a progression of one place in 3 years is difficult to take, from last to second to last. This is an organisation steeped in history, one of the most decorated in hockey and only 3 years ago finished bottom for the first time. I'm sure we'll turn it around, but how quickly who knows?
Over here in the UK, after clinching last years title, Manchester's hockey team reached the final once more, however they failed to capture the title again. Maybe next year, they should be a force once more. Hopefully the national team can get that winning feeling as well as this years world championships were disapointing when compared to the previous season.
Cricket and Rugby are still in motion, though it would be hoped both will improve on what we've seen to date, it's not looking to good just yet. Which in terms of the cricket is upsetting as last year they brought so much joy in winning the title for the first time in decades. Things are just not going the way they and like myself the fans would have hoped for. With the rugby a move to a new stadium, a new coach and whilst we aren't doing any worse than last year, the promise or hope of improvement is slowly vanishing. I just hope they can pick up a little and even if it's only 1 place higher than last season it would be nice to be higher in the league.
Thus, this year has been a miserable sporting year so far. I look forward to the Olympics with hope that our teams and individuals can perform to a level that would win them a medal, or for those expected to medal, one of the gold variety.