April is, amongst other things, time for April Fools Day and this year saw Soccerlens pull out some really crazy ideas out of the hat, from a Manchester United orgy to various club takeovers. I wish I had predicted Abu Dhabi United taking over Manchester City, but that just goes to show you that fact is often stranger than fiction.
The Ronaldo-Madrid saga (it’s only April and I’m tired of it already) took a new twist with then Real Madrid manager Schuster claiming that Ronaldo would join Madrid after he’d won a few trophies with them. Although that move would be shot down for good later in the year, Schuster’s comments were the starting point of a full-speed-ahead chase by Madrid through the press that would last till August.
Over at Liverpool there was another transfer saga heating up with Gareth Barry earmarked as Steven Gerrard’s future partner in Liverpool’s midfield. At this point it seemed quite likely that Barry would move clubs, although Aston Villa fans were hoping against hope that their captain would chose loyalty over more money.
Behind the scenes at Liverpool things were taking a turn for the worse with a public spat between Hicks and Gillett and persistent rumours over a Liverpool takeover overshadowing affairs on the pitch. To his credit, Rafa masterminded a Champions League quarter-final win over Arsenal (albeit with 2 controversial decisions, one in each leg, that handed the tie to Liverpool) and took Liverpool to yet another CL semi-final date with Chelsea.
Liverpool would go on to lose that semi-final, but the match(es) of the month were the two games between Manchester United and Barcelona. Outclassed and outgunned, Manchester United were in the unfamiliar position of being underdogs AND playing against a team everyone in England wanted to win. In the end it came down to taking chances, with Ronaldo missing a penalty and Barcelona reduced to shooting from outside the penalty area until a moment of inspiration from Paul Scholes (and 179 minutes of inspired defending from everyone else) took United to Moscow.
In the league United had been pegged back by Chelsea but still led on goal difference (managing to beat Arsenal at Old Trafford courtesy of Owen Hargreaves) and in one of the closest title races, both teams made sure that it would go down to the final games and eventually, the final game.
And any review of last season would be incomplete without a mention of the constant ‘Football Manager’ style speculation going on at Tottenham and Newcastle, albeit with different budgets in mind.
Back to Soccerlens’ 2008 Review.