Overnight, our chances of achieving something in Europe have risen markedly. With the surprise departure of Man U from the Champions League, as well as the more expected loss of Man City, two teams who were more than capable of knocking us out have left the competition.
All right, I know I shouldn’t get carried away since the two favourites, Barcelona and Real Madrid, look to be head and shoulders above the rest. Were we to face either of them over two legs I couldn’t predict anything for us except more disappointment.
But with a kind draw and a continued improvement in defence, we look capable of repeating our run to the final in 2005/06, hopefully this time going one step better.
The similarities can be seen in our league performance so far – after 14 games back then we had struggled to adjust to the loss of our captain and collected 26 points, winning eight and losing four, the same as today.
The main difference between the two campaigns was that we had a much meaner defence back then.
But over the last few matches the current unit has looked increasingly solid. Whether it can replicate the string of clean sheets that led us to Paris is doubtful but with the Manchester representatives now plying their trade on Channel 5 on a Thursday night I’m a lot more confident.