End of the First Half: The Season So Far, Part 1
End of the First Half: The Season So Far
By Ozgur R. Nazilli
Now that the first half of the 2007-2008 Turkish Super League is over, one can look back and see that it has been an interesting 17 weeks for the big 3 (Fenerbahce, Besiktas, Galatasaray). Before these weeks are analyzed from the perspective of Fenerbahce, I would like to first congratulate Sivasspor and pay my respects to the Board, the manager, and the players of that team. Everyone who has even followed the Turkish League for one season knows that the title will most definitely go to one of the big three. If by some big miracle the Istanbulian three manages to miss the title, the recipient will certainly be Trabzonspor, who is considered by some as the 4th member of the big 3. However, this year, Sivasspor, whose budget is probably a tenth of Fenerbahce's, have managed to secure the top spot going into the break, with some very solid performances over the past 17 weeks. Even though their Manager Bulent Uygun had made a declaration stating that "they cannot be Champions", they certainly look like they will be contending the coveted title until the very end. So a sincere congratulations from the Fenerbahce Worldwide staff to Sivasspor, for beating all the odds and financial troubles to finish the first half as the leader of the League.
Now that we have done our job as partly-objective futbol fans, we can go back to focusing on Fenerbahce.
As a friend of mine who is much older than I am and also is a fellow Fener fan was saying to me just a day ago, "we are lucky to be living in this time as Fenerbahce fans". When I think back to older times, I can easily see his point. Before, just a few years ago, Fener fans were very disillusioned with their team and even though they continued supporting Fenerbahce, the tagline of the games were "Ah it's Fenerbahce, what did we expect?". Fener had a very unfortunate tendency to lose very easy games back then, as exemplified by the catastrophic defeat against Pendikspor. However, the picture would not improve against the big teams, since whenever Fenerbahce went out to Europe, the result would be a huge disappointment for each and every Fener fan.
Now, a new era is slowly creeping in for Fenerbahce. The winds of change are blowing away the bad memories into the distant past, and bringing in the golden age for both Fenerbahce, and consequently for the Fener fans. This year has been the most successful year ever in the 101 year history of the Yellow and Navy, and we are lucky enough to be witnessing it. Fenerbahce first qualified for the group stages of the Champions League by beating, in both the home and the away game, Anderlecht, who is a constant participant in the European tournaments. Then, the real miracle happened and Fener enjoyed an immensely successful Champions League run, starting with the 1-0 victory against the Italian giants Inter, and ending with the 3-1 victory against the 2005 UEFA Cup winners CSKA Moscow. This run earned Fenerbahce 11 points, which also was the most ever points won by a Turkish team in the Champions League.
Contrary to the glamorous European campaign, the league was not going so well for Fenerbahce, with the Yellow Canaries trailing as much as 7 points behind the leaders at one point back in the earlier weeks. However, Fenerbahce managed the unthinkable, at least, unthinkable for the people who knows Fener's past, and the Yellow and Navy players pulled themselves together, and kept it together, both in the European Champions League and the Turkish League, which resulted in them qualifying out of the group stages in the Champions League, and finishing the first half of the league at the top, with the same number of points as the leaders Sivasspor. This feat, which Fenerbahce had never managed before, is why this year is inarguably the most successful year for Fenerbahce so far. The only thing on the minds of the fans now is that hopefully Fenerbahce will be able to keep this pace up and be as successful in the second half too.
With this, we are concluding the first part of our "The Season So Far" series. Check back in a few days to read the rest of the series on Fenerbahce Worldwide.