What a year it has been – aside from 1999, 2008 has been the most successful year in the history of Manchester United and has seen countless additions to the annals of the great club we support.
In February we paid rememberance to those who perished in Munich 50 years previous, welcoming City to Old Trafford. Fortunately the result was eventually irrelevant! Kudos were given at the time to our neighbours for their impeccable behaviour and respect both through the club and its supporters. That kudos should be afforded again on reflection, for one afternoon at least it truly was a “City United”.
Of course then our current squad set upon the task of making themselves legends in their own right. A last minute Tevez goal in Lyon, a Paul Scholes trademark thunderbolt (now at a limit of one per season) saved especially for Barcelona, and Ryan Giggs becoming the all time record appearance holder for United on the night he scored the (eventual) winning penalty to win the European Cup. The joyous flair of the likes of Rooney, Anderson and the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a thousand goals as we won back to back league titles. Oh yeah, and all time legend Giggs netting in the title clincher, too. A record unbeaten European run. Then to top it off Wayne Rooney making himself big in Japan by running riot to win the World Club Cup.
Moments that not only stand out from the year but also serve to contribute to the rich tapestry and tradition of Manchester United in the vein that is so difficult to describe but so easy to recognise. Sir Alex has certainly placed his troops in a position of strength after overcoming a tricky fixture list, and though it may be wishful thinking to believe that 2009 can be anywhere near as successful, if anyone can do it, it’s Sir and United.
Outside United it’s certainly been an entertaining year. Seeing another Liverpool title challenge falter, and watching their current one border on destruction due to self confidence issues, having City in the bottom three and probably most gratifying of all for a United fan deriving pleasure from other clubs misfortunes – seeing Real Madrid go from attempting to assert their “power club” muscles over Sir Alex, to seeing them out of the title race before Christmas, hiring one of the worst coaches in Premier League history and being linked with moves for the likes of Aaron Lennon, Didier Zokora, and now, according to Christmas Eve’s Daily Mail, being turned down by Jermaine Pennant. Yes, THAT Jermaine Pennant. Oh, how the mighty of fallen. It’s been disappointing to see three former Red midfield heavyweights lose their jobs (Robson, Keane and Ince), though exciting to see a former Red midfield lightweight (sorry, Sir!) Darren Ferguson doing so well at Peterbrough.
On a personal note, too, it’s certainly been an eventful year. I joined Stretford-End in October 2007 and was soon invited to contribute to the site – as time has passed I have become more and more involved. This really marks around the anniversairy of my start of contributions.
It’s not everyday you are given the opportunity to join an already established and respected fan site and given, essentially, the trust to be carte blanche with my thoughts. And what a time to do it – as I previously said, the second most successful year in the history of the club. It’s been a pleasure to work with Andy (stretford-end) over this period and I am proud to not only call him an “e-colleague”, but also a friend.
I want to thank everyone who has read and / or commented whether it’s been good, bad or indifferent – and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and the best of New Years.