Exactly 22 things happened/were worth talking about in April. One of them was Margaret Thatcher’s death. Another was this picture of George Osborne crying. Here are the other 20. (20: what could possibly be the significance of that number?)
20 things (not quite in chronological order):
1: Take away this Cup from me
Manchester United had no cup football in April of last year: good, no distractions. Right? But it turned out that they needed some distractions, because they ended up having nothing else to show for a poor season. The month, a fairly disastrous one, saw a league first; United dropped seven points altogether but lost three times. They were City (1-0), Wigan (1-0) and Everton (4-4).
2013′s a lot better, though, as we’ve found. There was a cup distraction if all didn’t go to plan elsewhere. And a cup distraction it was, or, at least, it seemed to play out that way. Demba Ba scored the only goal for Chelsea in the replay, and United were out far too soon in a competition they hadn’t won for nine years. What did this mean for the league using what we know from last year? Trick question. Nobody still knows what happened then. We’d have to see how April goes. Maybe it’ll all be okay.
2: An Ant
United were so poor at Chelsea that Sir Alex Ferguson admitted “only Antonio Valencia reached the standard” he expected of his players. There’s a lot of love here for Valencia, but, given this sad, rather-forgettable season from his point-of-view, that’s probably saying something about the others. Half-kidding: he was very good. Which is sadder in a way, because it hasn’t happened often enough.
3: Comedy on Dave, sponsored by Aon
The Aon Training Complex. We support a club with a great sense of humour, folks. At least be thankful for that.
The Manchester derby in December was glorious, and not just for its late drama. United had perhaps their best performance, opposition considered, which is pretty much the way to go when your neighbours are the current champions. April’s reverse, however, was unfortunately exactly that; a reversal of all the good things we saw then. Shame, but we still had Phil Jones’ gurns.
5: King Philip
It’s how football tends to work. If your team doesn’t play very well, chances are your defenders will (unless it’s really bad and they concede six). Phil Jones had one of his better United games against City, which is quite an endorsement given that he’s had a few. (And did you see those gurns?) Later that month, Ferguson said he could be United’s best ever. Fair enough.
6: He scores, at last
He did it! Finally! After a long run of games without a goal, Michael Carrick has got one! Van Persie managed to score, too, embracing his manager in celebration at breaking a ten-game duck. But, mainly, Carrick scored. And the fans loved that.
7: Rooney subbed off
8: Which means Falcao’s coming
9: Which means Lewandowski’s coming
To Wembley. (But, knowing Ferguson … which we sadly don’t.)
10: Go on a Shinj
The 2-2 draw with West Ham went the way of a lot of midweek games. Everyone seemed a little exhausted. Shinji Kagawa, though, picked up others’ slack with a performance that was in some way overdue, but expected. Responsible for both goals, here’s a man that, while not saying that he’s definitely going to win the club’s 2013/14′s Player of the Year, will be around, providing he’s not injured or benched.
11: Bebe, like Bebo. Forgotten
“I went into the room and saw that [Ferguson] was looking for me. He told me to cut my hair, it will look better,” Bebe revealed in April, now presumably with dreadlocks in the comfort of Portugal and Rio Ave. “So I cut it the same day. In the next training session, he didn’t recognise me. I went past him many times and he didn’t know me.” That humour again. Unrelenting.
12: And the winner is … well, none of these, but still
The PFA player nominations had Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie in the main award and Danny Welbeck in the young; none of them went on to win, but it’s nice they noticed. Many people came out and said Welbeck perhaps didn’t deserve a nomination over top-performers such as David de Gea and Rafael. They’re probably right, but an easier solution for next time would be to put in all three.
13: Sunday, ’cause that’s my fun day
Manchester United were planning to win the title at Arsenal. It would have been fun that way, probably. But here’s a better idea. Why not earlier? Like tomorrow! So on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale did their thing and City had been beaten 3-1. Who knows what happened next?
14: Did you just see that?
Bless Aston Villa. Trying to survive, like every other endangered species, and Robin van Persie does that. He didn’t seem to care so much about Villa, though, and instead focussed on winning his team a league title. His second goal wrapped up a game (and the season) that finished too soon, but fittingly: for nothing could follow that (figuratively-speaking, because United did follow it up with something really big).
15: And a hat-trick?
Robin van Persie scored three. Gosh, finding 20 things is hard. This is basically filler.
16: Pat on the back
A shame the PFA nominations were so late. Because the real winner is a left-back with a great sense of humour and one who knows how to keep his material topical. Biting a fake arm + context + historical context = a satisfying pay-off.
17: More praise
De Gea and Rio Ferdinand made the PFA’s Team of the Year, along with Carrick and Van Persie. Three of these were expected, and De Gea being one of the ‘expected’ has shown just how much he has developed (and how not-good some of the others have been). The surprise choice was Ferdinand, but not that it wasn’t deserved. He has also managed to earn himself a testimonial, and it’s a reminder that we’re close to the end. Or not. Indeed, Ferdinand was United’s best player in their next game, at Arsenal. Roll on the rolling contracts.
18: Guard of Honours
Nothing happened, except a conventional Guard of Honour. Where was the drama? They should have unleashed Gunnersaurus.
19: What May may look like
A fairly drab 1-1 draw at Arsenal gave us an impression of what may be to come for the rest of the season. Not that they played badly, of course not, but the game — typically a big one — didn’t feel or look important from a United perspective. Sure, United should try to get nine points from their next three, but it’s not much of a deal if not, is it? (Though Evra says it is, and he’s definitely right. He always is.)
20: Twenty is a big number
Mind went blank, there’s probably no talking point, so there’s no number 20. Oh wait, no, there is a number 20! You see how that worked?