In 1999 at this point of the season the city of Manchester was buzzing knowing the fact that this was arguably our strongest team since 68 (many would disagree and my good friend would strongly champion the 93/94 squad) we were fighting on all three fronts, the league, FA cup, and the European cup.
The expectations were rife amongst the red community whilst City were trying to climb out of the third division. This point 12 years ago we were due to play Arsenal in the semi, Inter Milan in the European cup and Arsenal were on our tales in the league yet we were all fantasising about the treble! This year we are top of the league, have an FA Cup semi clash with the Bitters and Chelsea in the q/f of the champions league yet I have not discussed the treble with a single person. I have not so much heard a murmer in the ground or on the train to an away day and yet we could win all three.
The league is ours to lose no doubt about that, we have a huge derby in London and if we reach the final and you would fancy your chances. The European cup draw has opened up for us to reach the final avoiding Barca and Real.
Why does no one mention the treble?
I don’t simply because we don’t seem to have the spark of 68, 99, or 2008 in which I feel we have lost that air of invincibility yet we are unbeaten at home and only lost three league games all season. SAF is rumoured to have said this would be his biggest achievement to win the league with his current squad in which we have seen many players come to the forefront such as Hernandez being a breath of fresh air, Nani fulfilling his potential, Rafael proving there is life after Gary Neville and the meteoric rise of Chris Smalling. Personally these are my highlights of a season in which we are doing so well yet without the same excitement as 99 and 08.
Do I think we win all three? I would have said no before the q/f draw but I think we should win the league, we are in the semi of the FA cup which being a derby aside most reds will say we will win (albeit a very tough game) and then two winnable draws in the Champions league!
So why do I think we will win anything given that we have struggled away from home all season and failed to hit the heights of previous winning seasons? Well I will say this we have become a very functional team grinding out results when needed and we are a team that know how to win unlike Arsenal’s self destruct characteristic. We have been devastated by injuries yet we are still leading the pack domestically and the return of key personnel is coming at the right time. Valencia back in the team is a huge advantage which Rooney will benefit from given Tony V’s ability to beat a man and deliver a cross. Park has come back and has proven over the years that he is a man that can be counted on in big games and then we have Rio who will add that stability even though Smalling has proved many doubters wrong. Again I am not saying we should be winning all three due to the quality of our team, but I am saying it is definitely on whether people believe or not!
I am not an optimist but my glass is never half empty and this could be the strangest season I have ever known!