The time is here again. I can't believe that time flies by when you begin to think that you have some more of it. On the brighter side, this year marks the silver jubilee of my arrival in this big mean world.
Which also means that one more year has gone by without my last wish-list being fulfilled—my being nominated for the Oscars, without my winning the Ballon d'Or, without my getting remotely close to the Nobel Peace Prize (well that's because I picked up many a fight on the way).
A lot of things have changed between my last birthday and today, some desirable and some downright shi**y. But well, that's what one means by "Life is not a bed of roses," I suppose. That's an important lesson I learned from the year that went by.
What I learned is that the game of Football, as well, is not a bed of roses—well apparently it is just turf. And what I also found out is it is much more simple to do a game preview/prediction or a game recap than doing opinion articles and alike—well those seem best left to the likes of Louie and Yoosof. Lesser humans like me should be content doing hardcore football articles.
Anyways, since I've started on this Herculean task, I'll make a sincere effort to give an account of all the things that happened since this day last year, and yes, a reading advisory—don't expect this to be unbiased.
As they say, "old habits die hard," so I will stick to what I always do—rather than a game recap, I'll do a recap of the year since my last birthday and rather than do a game preview, I'll roll out a wish-list for the year to come. And yes, it will be "strictly football". And for a change, I'll try to keep this one short, and for the rest, there's the single page view.
March 24th, 2008 - March 23rd, 2009 - The year that was...
The year started remarkably well for me. I was at this pub with a couple of close friends on the eve of the 23rd, when Manchester United hosted Liverpool at Old Trafford. I enjoyed Sitting there watching the game on the big screen, well it was bigger than the television at home, gulping down my soda. Yes, it is hard for a teetotaller to hang around in a pub, gulping soda all the time. All for the love of the game, that's some glory seeking.
And back to the game, it was some drubbing at Old Trafford that day. Liverpool were outdone completely, not helped one bit by the early sending off of Mascherano. The Red Devils compounded their misery by turning on the heat after he left the pitch. But in fairness, Liverpool were truly hopeless that day, losing 3-0 to United. It was well deserved, and our march towards the title continued.
To make things better, Chelsea came from behind beat Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. This worked well for us as Arsenal was one of the title challengers until then.
It was a show of supremacy from Chelsea, and more so from Drogba who was in the thick of things, helping for a 2-1 win. Only later did I realize that Chelsea would be better off dropping a couple of points as they would come back to haunt us on the final day of the season.
The final day it was, and I was back at the same pub, sipping the same soda—the only difference being that I'd bitten enough nails that day. Nail-biting it was, literally.
With equal points on the board, it was just the goal difference that gave us a slender advantage. But that seemed a mere consolation as we were playing Wigan on the road, while Chelsea hosted Bolton at home. Two strikes from two of our stars saved the day for us, and more importantly, won us our tenth title.
Moving to Europe, the year was just remarkable in that sense. It couldn't have gotten any better with the Red Devils triumphing in Moscow. If winning the league was nail biting, this was nothing less than heart-stopping, especially when John Terry lined up to shoot Chelsea to glory.
What Istanbul, 2005 was for a Scouse fans, Moscow 2008 was for us Mancunians, perhaps much more, considering how we have under-performed in Europe.
All said and done, there's nothing to beat this one. Winning the back to back league titles and Champions League against our fellow English team, there couldn't be a happier moment. It was indeed a moment to cherish, and one to add to the cliches'. It was indeed "one you could tell your grandchildren" about moment.
The year continued for us as it had been all along. A few blips and many more highs. The UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA World Club Championship being the ends, a Community shield and a Carling cup completing the spectrum.
A lot more happened over the course of the year, the important ones being Ronaldo winning a platter of trophies, Edwin van der Sar setting new records on the post and United successfully overcoming a slow start to regain the top spot in the league.
All in all, it was a great year, a year hard to beat. Of course there were a few heartaches like being undone by Liverpool twice this season. I'd just like to call that a Silver Lining!
Now to the Wish-List...
It would be hard to beat the year that was, without me being overly greedy and extremely biased. But here are a few things I'd love to see happen this year.
1. Red Rain in Rome
As I already said, it would be tough to beat last year in terms of what we achieved and it would take something special to do it. What better than beating Liverpool in Rome and retaining the Champions League for the first time. That would truly be something. Statistics and figures apart, not many things would be more satisfying than that—well having sex not being an option, or maybe even if it was.
2. The Eleventh League Title
Selfish as I am, the league is something I've always cherished, and is one of my favorites. So the league is next on the list, with Berbatov scoring a few winners, just to silence those critics.
3. An FA cup in the bag
My third priority would be a win in the FA cup finals. I would have opted out of this one, but since we didn't win it last year, I'd prefer us to win it this year.
4. Ronaldo signing a new five year contract extension
Well the title doesn't say it all. Add to it Mourinho signs as boss for Real Madrid and stays there for a long time, quashing the idea of Ronaldo in the squad. And to just cap it up, SAF deciding to stay at the club for another decade, at least.
5. Liverpool finish third in the league.
Well, as I'm the birthday boy, I'm allowed to be mean today, remember the reading advisory?. As I said, I am allowed to be my biased self today, I am on other occasions as well, but today I get my little waiver.
Liverpool to finish third in the league and us winning in Rome would all but mean another trophy less season for Liverpool, and a quintuple for us—you want to call me a bi*** for this don't you?
I just hope those stars I've used in the article don't strip me off my syndicated Writer status, I've got five of 'em already, now that's some bragging.
Jokes apart, it really was one helluva year that went by, not just from a footballing point of view but on a personal level as well.
BleacherReport was one of the best things that could happen to me when I had lost my way a bit, and lost a few important people around me, BR filled that void before I'd realized. I lost some, but made as many and more right here on BR. BR has truly been one of the highlights of the year that was.
As far as my wish-list goes, it's wishful thinking at best. In all fairness, Manchester United may not win the lot, nor are Liverpool as bad as I've made them out, but as I said, it's my day and I have my way, after all It's my Birthday.