Well, what an emotional rollercoaster we have been through for the past nine months. It seems an age ago we started the season, dreaming of regaining the league from Chelski and claiming the fabled number 19. That dream seemed to fade away as we performed like a Sunday league team away from Old Trafford. We had our best player, our remaining talisman, tell us he wanted to leave back in October. I remember feeling like I’d lost faith in football that week, and feeling like this season was slipping away from us. Rooney remained, and United plodded along. Slowly but surely things started to slip into place. Our home form was immaculate, our away form improved slowly and eventually a formidable partnership formed between Rooney and our ‘little pea’. We had our highs, we had our lows, we had our nail bitters and we had our celebrations. As our rivals seemingly disintegrated before our eyes, we secured the magical 19th title and stuck a massive finger up to our friends in Merseyside. Although we were handed another footballing lesson by possibly the greatest club team the modern game has seen, it still didn’t seem quite as bad as it did in 2009. In a season in which we had been written off by practically everyone in football from the media to our own fans, we still managed to win the league by 9 points, secure an FA Cup semi-final and a third Champions League final in four years. Not too shabby by any means. With all this in mind its good to finally take a breathe and have a look back at the best moments.
There are many players who have stood out for United for a portion of the season, but have not been consistent the whole season. Dimi Berbatov, Nani and Rafael were all excellent for the first portion of the season. In my opinion, Nani dragged us through the tricky first half with Rooney off par and the team struggling in other areas. Rooney, Chicharito, Valencia and Giggs have all been excellent too for the second part of the season. All of them came good when the team needed to kick on and were all major players in our success. For me though there are only two players who have been consistently good for the whole season, and they are Edwin Van Der Sar and Nemanja Vidic. VDS has had arguably his best season for us this year and has made countless key saves in countless matches. Cries of ‘One more year!’ have been a regular throughout the season. Vidic has truly been a Captain Fantastic for us, holding the defense together whilst Rio was injured. His form, playing alongside Chris Smalling, was truly magnificent. Choosing between these two is tough, but I’m going to have to go with Nemanja Vidic as my Player of the Season.
After seeing Berbatov score his fantastic overhead kick against Liverpool, I don’t think I was the only United fan who thought that would be our hands down, goal of the season. I mean, it was such an important goal, despite the fact it was amazing skill from the Bulgarian. And the fact that it was against Liverpool made it all the better. It was the perfect moment that seemingly only a miracle goal would top. Step forward Wayne Rooney. His goal against City was the miracle goal, a spectacular over-head kick against our bitterest rivals, a signal to a return of form, a wonderful moment that will be etched in Manchester United history. No other goal, including Dimi’s (in my opinion) even comes close to it. So my goal of season is Wayne Rooney v Manchester City.
This was the hardest one to pick out for me as there have been so many magical moments throughout the season. The one that wins it for me is the second half comeback against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road. Going in 2-0 down at half time, we had been truly awful in the first half. Frustrations within the United fans I follow on Twitter had boiled over and many were sick of the poor form we had been showing away from Old Trafford. Darren Gibson especially was getting a hammering, as he did regularly at that time. In truth, the whole team had been dire. On my timeline I read a tweet from one of my followers called @Wobler_which basically said “We’ll win this” (or something to that effect). Don’t ask me why, maybe it was a gut feeling or over-confidence in United, but I agreed with him. Not for the first time in his United career, Ryan Giggs appearance changed the game (coupled with Hernandez). When Berbatov scored our third goal with two minutes left I remember feeling an over-whelming pride and joy at what we had seen. I felt that the performance we had just witnessed could define the remainder of our season, as we had battled back for the full three points like the Champions we would turn out to be.
Another tough choice. For me, there were three matches that all came close to being my best match of the season. There was the 3-2 victory at Old Trafford against Liverpool with Berbatov’s fantastic hat-trick, favoured especially for making Gerrard look like the biggest simpleton on the planet for kissing the camera moments before Berba equalised. There was the 2-1 defeat of Citeh, again at Old Trafford, because lets face it, a derby win is always a magic moment. Then there was the 2-1 victory at home to Chelski which practically sealed us the league. All of these games came very close for me but my favourite match of the season was the 2-0 FA Cup victory over Arsenal. I remember hearing the team news before that game and thinking the gaffer had finally lost it. Seven defenders? For the next 90 minutes I watched, absolutely gobsmacked, as we picked apart Arsenal. Sir Alex has proven, once again, why he’s the best, and I learned once again that I should never ever doubt the boss.
Special Mention Award
My special mention award this season goes to the FA Youth Cup winning team from the academy. They have been fantastic to watch this season and have raised the hopes of United fans that we could possibly have another ‘Class of 92’ on our hands. Realistically, if two or three of them make the first team we will have hit the jackpot. But this in no way takes away from the fantastic memories they have given me this season. The skill of Ravel Morrison, the passion of Ryan Tunnicliffe, the poise of Paul Pogba, the ruthlessness of Will Keane, the leadership of Tom Thorpe and the safe hands of Sam Johnstone to name a few. These lads have epitomised what it means to be a United player and have done the club extremely proud.