Monday, May 25, 2009

Season review - 86 reasons to be happy

At the start of the season I predicted a second place finish. How right I was. 86 points, 77 league goals, only 2 defeats and the best goal difference in the table. A record points total of 86 for a second place team in the premiership. This in itself is a reason to be happy. Unfortunately it wasn't enough Utd finished 4 points ahead with 90. The post mortem will say that we drew too many and there is some truth to that. 11 draws in unacceptable and I'm sure we'll improve on that next year. We can point to the refereeing errors like the stoke draw where a legitimate goal was ruled out and bad luck with the amount of times we hit the wood work. But a combination of inaccurate finishing, sloppy defending and injuries to key players cost us at times. If we had've converted three draws into wins or our two defeats to Spurs and Boro into wins then we would've reclaimed the title. If. Too many if's. We didn't do it despite playing some great football and we came up just short. 14 points out of 18 against the top four showed we could take on and beat our competition. Utd won the league despite performing poorly against the top 4. They won it because they were the best flat track bully's. We need to improve our ability to unlock a packed defence. If we do that more constantly then maybe we can go one step higher next year.It's hard to look beyond Gerrard when selecting a player of the season. He scored many amazing goals and was named football writers player of the season. John Giles on Newstalk agreed with the selection of Stevie and said that playing in the hole has brought the best out of him. Torres was good when played but missed too much of the season to be considered. Xabi had a great year, his best with us. The Kop love him and want him to stay here for many years yet. I would have him in second place for the year with Kuyt close behind him taking the bronze medal. I'm a huge fan of the Dutchman but will I had my doubts about him last year. But this season he's proved all of us wrong with his 12 league goals from open play and 8 assists, better than Rooney's return. From a right hand attacking spot that is a superb return and he fully justifies his selection. We can improve on Riera on the left but deadly Dirk will continue to be one of the first names in the team.

El Nino has signed a contract extension. There's been a big shake up with coaching staff. Gary Ablett has been released as have Hughie McAuley and Dave Shannon. Rafa is remoulding the academy and youth structure now that he has more control over the club structure with his new contract.

While there has been bad news off the pitch this week in relation to the accounts with soaring debts and no buyers interested, the guardian today suggest that it won't affect Rafa's budget and he'll still have £20m plus sales. But already he's s seen targets like Barry go to City which he won't be happy with. If it means Xabi is staying then I'm quite satisfied. Other targets could be missed out on like Pranjic who looks destined for Munich, Silva who's talking to Real Madrid and Glen Johnson who Chelsea want to buy, again.

Hertha Berlin didn't manage to secure Champions League football and won't be taking up their offer on Voronin. Javier has denied reports that he's off to FCB. Javi Martinez says he's up for a move to L4, but Atletico Bilbao say we haven't made an approach. Despite what Rafa is saying, the Alonso to Madrid rumours won't go away. If he does leave then maybe his fellow Basque will replace him. Babel has been told he can leave. I don't think it's a great surprise given how he's performed and the amount of time he's received this year. The South American press reckon that we've been everybody to the signing of Brazil u-17 star Zezinho. With a name like that, he's got to be good. Lavezzi is being linked by Setanta with Dossena going the other way. Juventus are also interested in the left back and it seems Rafa is willing to let him leave.

Sami's last minutes a red can be seen here. He'll be missed especially for his towering performance when we mashed the mans 4-1 in old toilet.

Red in Dublin is off on holidays for a few weeks to enjoy the Irish rain. I'll return if and when there's some decent transfer moves to report. In the meantime you can follow my updates on twitter. Keep it red.

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