Looking back, looking forward.. 2010 in review

Stretford-End.com takes a look back at 2010. It would be easy to spend all our time patting ourselves on the back after a fantastic year for the site but we have never been ones to stand still. In this piece we’ll have a slight moment of reflection to acknowledge all that we achieved in the last 12 months, and our look back at the best of 2010, before having a look at our pre-season predictions and how we’re faring up and concluding with a look at what’s to come in 2011.

2010, what a year

Where to start? Stretford-End.com grew to the point where it is by far the most pro-active, collaborative, forward thinking and innovative United website – in fact, we even reached the point where the BBC described us a Supporters Group in the wake of Rooney-gate. It would be wrong of us to take the credit for that; everything we write has the same value, it is a bunch of black words typed onto a white background. You as the reader create the community so it’s not with delusion that I constantly talk about making a difference. Thank you for thinking we have opinions worth championing, and thank you for making your agreement heard.

So, how did we become the most “pro active, collaborative, forward thinking and innovative United website”? We broke news – club exclusives – before anywhere else in the world. Stories that appeared here and then days later appeared in the press of different countries. Some of our stories are obviously still in the air as we await confirmation; some, like our new Shirt exclusive in April and our Ozil exclusive in August, have already confirmed our authenticity. It was never our intention to become a gossip website nor is that our intention for the future; we merely passed on information we believed to be huge.

We have opinions – big opinions, and we’re not afraid to voice them. When we say we’re asking a question, you can rest assured that we’re asking the question. When we said we wrote an open letter to Wayne Rooney, you better believe that it was sent to the club via Old Trafford/Carrington and email. When we appealed to the club to buy Nobby Stile’s medals at auction, we did so directly to the club again. When we launched our own, individual support for the Green and Gold campaign – appealing that the club do not release a green and gold shirt while the Glazers are in charge – we did so to United and to Nike, and we intend to send them our petitions.

To try and become the most comprehensive fan run website we added two amazing guys to our staff; Kyle, and Doron. To ensure that we were embracing technology, and to ensure we were giving you, the reader, the best chance to have this information at your convenience, we became the first Premier League fan website to launch an iPhone application.

Not wanting to stand still, we took a bold step and launched an official “Vodcast” on our YouTube channel. We even managed to get ex-United player David May to voice his opinion on the big games for us!

Forward thinking? When supporters and fan websites may have called for signings that didn’t even make sense, we concentrated on what was needed. The opinion constantly peddled by myself and Doron using Twitter and this blog about Anderson came in for a lot of stick but is (tentatively) being proven right. I will elaborate more in the next segment but the Wayne Rooney letter was surprisingly well received – this, however, was only the aftermath of an eerie feeling I had, firstly prior to the season and then the day before the Rooney bombshell hit.

What you get from Stretford-End.com is an informed opinion and a reliable gut instinct that correlates with the heart and soul of the club; you will get more of the same in 2011.

Predicitons – How are we doing?

Obviously difficult to pigeonhole just how we are doing success wise; my hopes of a hat-trick of Carling Cup successes were extinguished in December, but even with our collective concerns about injuries, I doubt any of us at Stretford-End.com expected us to be unbeaten in every other competition at the turn of the year. On top with games in hand, United are in pole position, and while we all backed us – naturally – only Kyle did it with the conviction of calling us favourites.

We identified Chelsea as the main contenders for the championship; no-one could have predicted how quickly the double winners seem to have regressed, while the wary prediction that City would come good given the right chemistry still seems unclear.

A collective prediction that Rooney would shine has spectacularly backfired for the first half of the season; we’re hoping for an equally spectacular turnaround in the second half. Doron’s slightly hedged bet of Nani and Anderson in there is probably the closest; but Kyle’s choices perhaps seemed to be using the finger of doom, as Darren Fletcher has struggled to re-capture the form of last season.

Kyle was a little luckier with his predictions for breakout star – both Anderson and Berbatov have lived up to his words, while my own hope that Rafael would finally stamp his mark on the right back role has come to fruition. Anderson was a collective, unspoken choice, so in plumping for another name, Kiko Macheda was mentioned – though, one rescue act at Villa Park aside, there has been little to write home about in terms of opportunity for the Italian.

Outside of the club, our predictions of “best player” generally wearing the blue of Chelsea have been off the mark; but Kyle was bang on the money predicting a huge rise for Gareth Bale. Unsurprisingly we all woefully underestimated Blackpool though Wolves and Fulham were correctly tipped to struggle. In our general predictions, most accurate to this stage were my own of a “bombshell to rock Old Trafford” that happened in October with Rooney-gate, and Doron’s wonderful prediction that Liverpool would not even make the European spots looks like it might just come true.

Looking forward…

No-one can predict what the future will bring, especially in the world of blogging as sometimes popularity is just as reliant on the news as it is on the reliability of our opinions. What we can do is share a couple of things in the pipeline; the vodcasts will eventually become podcasts (but remain vodcasts, too!), and, in January, we plan to once again lead the way when we launch the first ever “Webzine” from a Manchester United blog. The webzine will be a PDF file and will be available for free download and email.

It will feature exclusive content; interviews with ex-players, features, unique content regarding match previews and editorials and also interaction from you, the reader. It will also include the best of Stretford-End.com from the previous month, including all our match reports.

A blog for the webzine is coming shortly so stick around to see how you can be in our first issue.

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