Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The inaugral Sportsfilter EPL fantasy league has concluded. The winner was a most deserving and handsome dude, I reckon.

The real football season has concluded too. Most Blues fans are delighted with the way we finished, as am I. It's been an interesting season and the pleasing thing is that we negotiated a sharp learning curve and now look set to improve further.

I wasn't as enamoured as some of my Blue mates with our early season style of play, although I accept it served us well. I think the club was taken by surprise by our promotion and hadn't really planned for it. The transfer window knackered everything and we had to cope with what we had, more or less. So until Christmas our play was characterised by heart, passion and commitment. We got points by outfighting teams and wearing them down with our sheer obduracy.

I am old enough to remember when we didn't have to play as if we were apologising for being there and accepted the higher status as our right, so was a bit irritated by this, and the constant and oft repeated mantra that finishing 18th would be a triumph. With our ground, fans and backers we should expect better, in my view.

Then came the turn of the year and the transfer window opened. Bruce did remarkably well here, and in Dugarry brought in exactly the spark that had been missing. Out of the Blue, we looked like we belonged. Er, not out of the blue, actually, it took a while to adjust, but other, more prosaic signings fitted in well and made us look a better team anyway. The end of the season saw a complete transformation in attitude and skill and we were unrecognisable from the lumpen newcomers we appeared to be in August.

I have supported Blues for too long to allow myself to get carried away, but the future looks bright. Bruce appears to know what he is doing and has made some very astute signings. We no longer seem to be more concerned with stopping the opposition than we are with expressing ourselves and are clearly capable of taking the game to anyone. Now we have established ourselves and signed quality players more quality will be willing to come to us. I expect more changes through the summer and I have to say I am already excited about the prospect of next season.

I genuinely believe we could be challenging for a European place.
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