Something on the shelf

FA Cup Parade
FA Cup Parade

I started writing my thoughts for before we last won some silverware - it demonstrates how long I have been doing it!

Reading through my thoughts for this season, from pre-Jakarta to post-Wembley, it feels very special to conclude with such scenes of success, emotion and sheer joy. Like all of us it makes me want more and more of the same please!

Summarising the whole season in one small piece is of course extremely difficult. I will try and be brief enough to keep your attention while missing as little as possible.

Looking back almost 12 months ago, even pre-season was a quite awesome experience, Jakarta, Hanoi, Nagoya, Tokyo and Helsinki making up a quite incredible journey of new and entertaining experiences. Five wins on the bounce always helps, even in friendlies.

August is not a month where we often go through such incredible highs and lows but this time around it was very much the case.

The disaster of losing to Villa on the opening day (incredibly our only home league defeat of the season) was followed by a hugely satisfying and faith-restoring performance out in Istanbul.

Within just a few days in fact sheer frustration, despondency and fear had turned into optimism with Champions League qualification, a great day out at Fulham, the signing of Mesut Ozil and beating a multi-million-pound-spending Spurs side.

Two of the above were a good sign of what was to follow over the next few months. Our away form against all the teams below us was better than any other club in the country, something we need to replicate in next season.

And as for Spurs, three matches, three wins, no goals conceded and 19 successive higher league positions secured. Perfect I would say.

Off the field the away results contributed immensely to some awesome 'weekenders'. Sunderland, Cardiff, Swansea, Norwich and Newcastle all spring to mind on that front.

Numerous home matches went well for us and Napoli at home was definitely one of them, bringing us nicely to this year's Champions League adventure. The cities of Istanbul, Marseille, Dortmund, Naples and Munich provided the entertainment, the two trips to Germany the most memorable in a country that never fails to be hospitable.

Our short League Cup run included a dramatic trip to The Hawthorns but, after that road to Wembley ended at the second hurdle, we couldn't have dreamed of what the other one would hold over the coming months.

Every season holds both positives and negatives and it would be wrong not to look at both.

In the latter category it is not difficult to see our failings. Big away league defeats at our title rivals cost us dearly in the end and the manner of those losses were very difficult to take. Life and football are big learning curves however, so we must take those lessons forward in our bid to avoid similar situations in the future.

Long-term injuries to big players also cost us on that front I feel, demonstrated by how we finished the season with most of them back playing their part.

Playing three of this season's top six, the holders and another Premier League club in your FA Cup run is far from easy. Yet here we are, the grand old trophy sat proudly on the shelf and a shedload of fantastic memories to go with it.

The wins against Spurs (our local neighbours), Liverpool (who had thumped us only a few weeks earlier), Everton (in form and highly fancied) and Wigan (with all the drama that went with it) were mindblowing on the emotion front, hugely satisfying and will live long in the memory.

Bringing me nicely to a certain little trip in the merry month of May.

As I write these thoughts the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end. A very special day and weekend, I can say no more than has already been said.

The perfect end to yet another successful season to add to our long and extremely proud history.

Take those wonderful thoughts into your summer folks.

Thanks for all your kind comments throughout the season, it is safe to say it has been emotional.

Proud, very proud.

Victoria Concordia Crescit.

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