Twelve months ago, I thought that last season would be punctuated by a series of ‘nearly’ moments, you know the sort of thing, “It would have all have been so different if they’d given that penalty against West Brom those three points would have set us up nicely to get the draw we deserved at Villa”. I suppose it just goes to show that thinking too much about football does no one any favours at all. Any way that’s where the idea for this award came from. I could be greedy and say that it’s for those moments that could have made the achievements more glorious but that could rob me of my winner. Instead these are the moments that could have changed more than just the course of a game, if they’d have happened differently they could have changed the whole season.
3. Crouch’s ‘goal’ at Anfield
Was it his first goal? Andy gray and his mates have said yes and there’s no way that Baines or Pollitt are going to argue the toss, so why bother arguing? Did it change crouch’s season? Well he carried on being good at winning free kicks but it didn’t exactly turn him into a goal scoring machine. If Baines hadn’t got his toe to it, if Pollitt had just caught it? Crouch would still be in the England squad but what did it mean for Latics? This was the first real chink in Pollitt’s armour and the moment that things started to look that they could be not quite so easy. We were far from the best team at that point but were holding out. How often do you hear people say if we can get a goal we’ll stuff them? That was the case here, the Scousers needed that stroke of luck to break the deadlock, if we’d have held them a little bit longer I still feel we’d have got something from the game, and beaten the big club barrier early enough for it to have made a difference.
2. The Handshakes at Cardiff
First of all I thought of including Pollitt’s injury at Cardiff, but come on – we’d have got walloped any way. The romance started to fade after the line up and handshakes. Up until that point we had allowed ourselves to be fooled by the day, seduced by the stadium and forget the way that things had gone at Old Trafford. Then we kicked off and it was all a bit of a let down really. Something like going to the fridge on a warm day to have that last can of beer, only to find your big brother has drunk it already, bastard!
1. 90th minute against Chelsea
Picture it, it’s a beautiful summer’s day, you’re holding the champions 0-0 and the final whistle is approaching. You’re crapping it because Lampard is lining up a free kick which is bound to find the back of the net, but no it hits the wall and you breathe the sigh of relief. Hang on, what’s this, Johansson’s running onto the clearance. Of course his volley was a little too hard to carry off and the ball goes over the bar, of course they then go and score a beauty almost straight from the goal kick. Who knows where the season would have gone if Andreas had been able to control that shot, we’d have almost certainly started off the season with three points, but that could have been a bad thing, made the boys think it was all a bit too easy, then again it might not have taken us a few games to get going and then it would be anyone’s guess. Imagine though what it would have done to Chelsea’s season, how would they have responded? Would they still have been champions?
For all we know this was a real sliding doors moment (the Missus told me about it) and in another universe Latics are preparing for a EUFA cup campaign, Man Utd are Champions and Maurice Lyndsay has moved to Australia to moan about how cute it is that the Soceroos have qualified for the World Cup in the back yard of Rugby League. Then again it could be that Chelsea won the league by Christmas, Latics went to pieces after believing their own press, Jewell is Newcastle manager and was replaced by John Benson (touch wood).
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