It’s that time of year again when we’re all checking into New Snow, desperately waiting for Poch’s pen to paper, confirmation on Kovacic, terrific news on Tobes. Before we all fall headlong into harm, I’d like to offer my assessment of the season, if only to delay the pain for a few minutes.
Wembley, bloody Wembley. Unmitigated disaster, they said. Will cost us a Champions League spot, they said. Cup final for every visiting team, they said. It’s a 16 hour walk from the nearest tube station, they said.
There’s no doubt that it had an effect, especially early doors, but we soon found our feet and it became a home from home. Or maybe a holiday home, like a timeshare you invested in because you got free tickets to Disneyworld, but then only used for the first few years and spent the next 23 years paying for the privilege.
Stats suggest we didn’t cope quite as well:
2016/17- Won 17, Drew 2, Lost 0, Goals for 47, Goals against 9, Points 53
2017/18- Won 13, Drew 4, Lost 2, Goals for 40, Goals against 16, Points 43
Quite a difference in fortunes, whether that is all down to the Wembley factor, or possibly our form/bedding in new players/injuries/form of other teams, I couldn’t honestly say. Maybe a bit of all of the above.
There wasn’t too much in it, comparing our away form:
2016/17- Won 9, Drew 6, Lost 4, Goals for 39, Goals against 17, Points 33
2017/18- Won 10, Drew 4, Lost 5, Goals for 34, Goals against 30, Points 34
So overall in the league, compared to last season, we were 9 points worse off, 12 goals scored down, and conceded 20 goals more.
Champions League though, eh chaps? Group of death. It’ll be an embarrassment. We’ll be lucky to finish 3rd.
No, we bloody well arrived.
2016/17- Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 3, Goals for 6, Goals against 6, Points 7
2017/18- Won 5, Drew 1, Lost 0, Goals for 15, Goals against 4, points 16
The dramatic improvement was all the more impressive, considering the opponents. 9 points better off, up 9 goals, conceded 2 goals less.
In the League Cup, we achieved the same in both seasons, losing to Liverpool in 16/17, and West Ham in 17/18. That West Ham defeat stung, for sure.
We fared better in the FA Cup, going out in the 5th round to Crystal Palace in 16/17, and losing to Manure in the 17/18 semi-final.
So what is my conclusion?
I’m relatively happy. There’s no doubt that we didn’t reach the same heights in the league as last year, but the CL more than made up for it, for me. Looking at the above stats, it’s clear that in the league we conceded too many goals. We went from the best defence, to the 3rd best defence. Kyle Walker, brainfarts and all, was for me a big loss, as was having Tobes missing for a good portion of the season. Love Sanchez, he’s got some mistakes in him, but I have no doubt he’ll prove to be one of the signings of the decade. It would have been nice to bed him in slowly rather than him being a near ever-present.
No trophies, of course (in case anyone hadn’t noticed), and I firmly believe that the losses to Juve and Manure really hurt Poch and the players. I think they believed they could win both the CL and the FA Cup, as did I, and I think this had an impact on our end of season form.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t care about the trophies, of course I do, we all want success for our club. But honestly, football for me is about moments and memories, and we’ve had our fair share of them this season.
Making the all conquering Liverpool look rather silly at Wembley.
Wanyama’s goal and the controversy around Kane’s penalty at the return game at Anfield (speshley the reaction from Pooh fans).
Winning at the Bridge for the first time in Tony Adams years.
Leicester game, meeting up with the guys beforehand, and me and Cas shaking each other quite vigorously when Kane scored the winner. I love a vigorous shake.
All the CL games, but especially that night at Wembley against Madrid, which I will cherish forever.