Well this incredible season fizzled out very tamely in the end. We played as if we didn't really want European football and gave Liverpool too much space to play in and played at too slow a tempo to stretch them. For the first 20 minutes we were completely outplayed. However Liverpool are a very good team and we should have had two goals from the ball over the top as they played a very high line. Its a pity we didn't try the tactic more often. Huddleston 'thou shouldst be living at this hour'.
The season went down to the wire as I forecast it would. However not with the threat of relegation which we shook off weeks ago but for European qualification. Funny old game and all that. I'm exhausted and judging by the slackening off of Topspur Columnist activity and the dwindling of contributions to one or two fan sites that I haunt in the early hours so are my fellow fans.
Taking into account our recent spate of injuries, Huddleston, Lennon, Dawson, Woodgate amongst others, it would seem that the players are too and I was not expecting great things at Liverpool despite our excellent record against them this year and other members of the Golden Four. So eighth it is then and what a fantastic effort and result that is.
In the end success went to the losers apart from us as Fulham lost and qualified for Europe; Sunderland and Hull lost and stayed up. I feel no hostility towards Newcastle as it so nearly could have been us. I hope we would have played with more spirit if we had needed to win to avoid relegation which was a possibility I wasdreading just after Xmas.
Harry may claim that we wanted the Europa but he didn't communicate this to the players and it smacks of PR correctness. Corluka especially seemed to be just going through the motions. Liverpool, playing for 'pride' alone, wanted the ball more than us and had a better idea of what to do with it when they got it. We need to work on this 'pride' aspect as its the foundation stone of any improvement next season.
Our performances starting at Hull in February have been, a couple of 'blips' excepted, a tribute to a settled defence and a team that has begun to play decent football in increasingly longer spells ( almost a full first half against Man. City). The impact of Palacios and the enthusiasm of Keane seems to have energised the squad.
Keane's performances unfortunately have failed to live up to the promise he showed against W.Brom but it is difficult to assess his influence behind the scenes. The goal today will have given him great satisfaction and with any luck draws a line under this season for him.
I hope that Harry is true to his word that he is only looking for a couple of quality upgrades and that he must sell before he can buy. The squad can obviously be improved: what squad couldn't? But I favour as little disruption as possible. Most of the people featured in the press are not upgrades at all and the rest fantasy football choices who won't come to us anyway. Cisse and Kenwynn Jones are in the first category and Barry in the second. Its going to be a long summer at the ITK rumour mill.
JimmyG2 awards for the Season
Worst decision. Excluding that refereeing decision at Man. Utd, Ledley's preferred leisure pursuits must rival the purchase of David Bentley and Pascal Chimbonda.
Top of my list however is making Robbie Keane captain and apparently undroppable and unsubbable.
Best decision Sacking Ramos and appointing Harry though I disputed both at the time, b you cant argue with the facts, two points from eight games and all.
Best Goal JJ's goal against Arsenal to get us back to 4-3. An example of the best of Jenas. A strong determined run and a fine finish.
Player of the Year Gomes and Ekotto deserve mention after being the butt of many fan Lennon's return to form is most welcome and yes he can cross. For me though
our one true world class player is Luka Modric and we must hold on to him.
Most abused player Darren Bent by a distance. Harry's missis could score some of those that he misses, but could she score the 17 that he has?
Honourable mention to Jenas who is criticised sometimes even when he doesn't play.
New Season hopes That Gareth Bale recaptures the confidence and form he has shown in the past.
That more of the fringe players are given the chance to step up especially Bostock,Obika,Taraabt,Giovani and Gunter.
That Huddleston is not allowed to leave.
Most fervent wish That we make a good start next season and are in the top six at Xmas. I don't want to be writing begging letters to Santa again this year. He was kind to me last year but I don't want to risk being put on his 'ignore' list.