Even now, our Europa League semi final defeat against Frankfurt still hurts.
Our campaign deserved so much more, and the days after our European dream ended inevitably gave me time to reflect. You start with the what if? stage. What if Cresswell hadn’t been sent off? What if he’d let the player go through on goal? What if he’d missed and we had 11 players for the rest of the game?
What if we’d taken two or more of our chances in Frankfurt? What if Bowen’s overhead kick in the first leg had gone in? What if we hadn’t conceded so early at the London Stadium? Then when you remember, as Declan Rice pointed out on Twitter, sometimes in football, it’s just not to be.
For me personally, it reminded me of gut wrenching nights watching England over the years. All the emotions from Euro 96, Russia 2018 and the Euros last summer came flooding back.
‘You feel pride’
And then you look back at the journey we’ve been on this campaign and even since Project Restart. From relegation battlers to European semi finalists. You feel pride.
But then there’s the fear. Now the bubble has burst, what next? Will normal service resume next season?
We’ve had a few disappointing transfer windows but this summer the club simply has to get it right if we have serious ambitions about extending this journey.
But it’s not just about breaking transfer records and ending up with players who just don’t suit our system (Haller) but instead investing in players who will (Bowen). It’s also bringing in players who are hungry and happy to be part of a squad that rotates.