I don’t know about you, but for me 2011 flew by. One minute I was thawing out in January after a harsh snowy end to 2010 and the next thing I know Christmas has come and gone and it’s the beginning of another year. 2011 was a big year for me, I started on a journey of making Football Rascal into a full blown website, gave up my job and began working unpaid on a quest to make football fans lives a little more exciting with what I have planned for Football Rascal.
A lot has happened over the past 12 months, not just for me as an individual or for us as a company, but in the football world in general. We have seen so much happen; new teams have risen to prominence whilst others have started to slip away, landmark occasions like Sir Alex Ferguson achieving 25 years in charge of Manchester United, the death of Gary Speed, the high-profile racism cases that will continue this year, FIFA conceding that goal-technology will enhance the game and Twitter enhancing our insight into the game more than ever before. Football seems to be starting to move forward in line with the rest of the world with advances both on and off the pitch and we may end up looking back on 2011 as a year that changed football forever.
Football is a funny old game, the saying ‘you never know’ is apt to a lot of situations in life, but maybe none more-so than football. We enter 2012 with a title race that is now again wide open after a busy Christmas period of surprising results. Times are changing as the power houses of Arsenal and London neighbours Chelsea have found themselves tussling for 4th and 5th spots in the league, Manchester United have defied the critics yet again by catching Manchester City as their early dominance has surprisingly faltered. Tottenham are now being talked about as not only Champions League contenders, but contenders for the title.
At the other end, Martin O’Neill has shown what a couple of wins can do as he finds his Sunderland side just a win off the top half. Bolton Wanderers, who weren’t being tipped for relegation pre-season are rock bottom as they watched Blackburn pick up 3 points away to Manchester United – it doesn’t make sense, but that is football. Elsewhere, Newcastle have started to slip after an amazing start to the season, Everton have begun to claw back lost ground as Norwich hang in there, along with Swansea who have the best defensive record in Britain. With so many twists and turns, ups and downs, no wonder we love football so much.
And now we are back in January, a month that will be played out over Sky Sports news and twitter as the transfer window is again upon us. The speculation over ‘the will he/won’t he’ type scenario can keep you going the whole month. For us football fans it is literally something that hooks us in, sparks endless conversations with your mates down the pub, helps with small talk with your colleagues and takes up loads of column and online inches. As much as I like the transfer window, January is perhaps the worst month as everyone slips in to one month of transfer discussion that can only be compared to a group of old ladies discussing the latest gossip over a coffee.
The transfer window is pivotal to the rest of the season. For example, would Spurs have qualified for the Champions League again this season if they had signed a striker this time last year? Will Alex Ferguson’s stubbornness be justified in refusing to admit that his Manchester United team need reinforcements this January come the end of the season? Will Manchester City try to buy their way to success by bringing in players that they don’t frankly need in January? Will managers try to buy their way out of trouble? Neil Warnock and QPR being the prime example here.
As much as many of us will focus and no doubt get lost in the BS of the transfer window, it is on the pitch which is where January is so important. In a month of 5 rounds of matches, it could be a big one in the title race. There is a huge Super Sunday to look forward to towards the end of the month with Manchester City vs. Spurs and Arsenal vs. Manchester United as the big games come round again. January is different for all football fans: some will be filled with dread, others optimism, some will be excited about arrivals, others will be worried about losing their star players.
January means something different to all of us, for me on a personal level it is the start of an important year for Football Rascal in which my dreams will either come true or I will add to the long list of business start-up failures. As a football fan nothing changes, off the pitch it is the same old January filled with excitement, optimism and annoyance, but football and business run in tandem; it is important for everyone to get off to a good start to the year.
Good luck to everyone in 2012, let’s hope 2012 is a good one.