What’s the old saying? You can’t have your cake and eat it? After what was dished up last year, this time around us Sale fans have been served up a three course meal, dessert with extra cream, the cheese board and are well on the way to coffee and liquors.
But we always want more don’t we? The cherry on our cake (with extra cream) if you will. After taking seven games last year to record our first victory and not knowing if we were even going to be in the Premiership until the last few weeks of the season you would think we would be happy with 6th place, where we sit now.
Let’s just put that in context. Last year sale finished in 10th, winning 7 games all season, collecting just 35 points. This year we have already won 11 games and stand on 51 points. We are above Exeter, Wasps, Gloucester and London Irish, all of whom finished above us last year.
Yet, going into the game against Harlequins last week, Sale were being talked up as THE team of the season. After only one defeat at home since mid November and only three defeats in eleven (including a win at home to Northampton and one away at Bath), we were rightly being suggested as legitimate top four finishers.
That top four finish. The cherry on our cake.
Sport has a great way of slapping you in the face and bringing you right back into reality though. Defeat to a very good Harlequins team has all but ended that dream now, but surely that was all it ever was this season, a dream. You can’t realistically expect a team to go from tenth to fourth in one season. We as fans (and I’m sure the players to) have been swept along by the positivity and formidable rugby we’ve been able to watch this year and for that we thank everybody at the club.
But let’s not get too downhearted. Although they won’t admit it I’d like to take bets that the goal set at the start of this season was to qualify for the Heineken Cup next year. Barring a miracle we have all but achieved that. This is something to be rightly celebrated. With it will bring better quality of opponent which will improve our own game. It might attract the right player or two to want to join the club, and of course extra money through participation and hopefully increased attendances.
This season must be built on though. We can not go back to finishing in the bottom half of the table again. Regular Heineken Cup (or whatever it’s going to be called) qualification has to be a minimum for the club going forward now. With that we can push on to the top four and then who knows…
We’ve got our Sale back. Let’s just hope it’s here to stay.
Now, how do you like your coffee?