New Year's Eve. A night of endings, and of new beginnings. A night often full of hope.
And most recently, a night of outrage and disappointment. See, I am not only an New York City season ticket holder, but also a passionate longtime Chelsea fan. So, when news broke that Frank Lampard would be staying in Manchester at least through the end of this EPL season, and potentially even longer than that, I had much cause to be aggrieved.
"Super Frank" was a large part of the reason I was so excited to get on board with season tickets to a team that I had never even seen play a single game. He's one of my all-time favorite players, and when I originally heard that he'd be coming to my hometown to play his club football, I was beyond excited.
But it's only when we allow ourselves to invest emotionally that we set ourselves up for disappointment.
My reaction to the Lampard situation is very complex. As a Chelsea fan, I am largely grateful to Frank for his time at Stamford Bridge and the amazing things he did for my beloved Blues. That has admittedly been mired somewhat by his recent exploits for Chelsea's biggest title rivals, where his ridiculous 1.5 goals + assists per 90 minutes is so good that it tops even Luis Suarez's numbers for last season.
These stats have admittedly come over a small sample, but despite playing relatively few minutes, Lampard's impact on the table has been massive. His five goals scored, as widely cited on Twitter this week, for example, have turned two draws into wins and one loss into a draw (against Chelsea, no less).
Does it hurt to see Chelsea legend Frank Lampard contributing meaningfully to Chelsea's only real threat in the table then? Of course! The late goal he scored against Chelsea stung in particular. But at the same time, I know that it was ultimately Chelsea who chose to cut him loose. I genuinely believe that he would've preferred to stay at Chelsea, working under Jose Mourinho, with whom he famously has such a wonderful relationship. In fact, he almost left Chelsea in his prime to follow Jose to Inter.
But Chelsea chose to end the relationship. At the time, Lampard said that he did not want to go to another English club, choosing instead to go across the Atlantic to MLS. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think that it was Lampard's intention to sign for Manchester City. I think he wanted to come to New York City, and when the club said he needed to go on loan until the season started, he rightly chose to play at a higher level of competition at home in England, rather than go to far Australia.
Maybe this is also naive, but I don't think Lampard really expected to do much for Manchester City, who have one of the deepest and most talented squads on the planet. I think he expected to go, train for a few months to keep his fitness up, maybe see some garbage minutes in Capital One Cup games, and then come back to New York City. That his talent and industry made him indispensable to Manchester City, if anything, makes me proud of the man who I cheered on for so many years at Chelsea. It's incredible to see him doing so well, regardless of where he plays, and it's kind of nice to see a Chelsea legend beating Thierry Henry's records.
It stings that his good work is hurting Chelsea's title chances, but I can't really begrudge him that.
But I'm also a New York City season ticket holder -- and there, my feelings are much less complicated.
I'm not particularly angry at Lampard; it's only a good thing for us that one of our players is playing this well. I am angry, though, at the situation and the club as a whole.
I'm not going to go so far as to say that it was the plan all along. I do think that City Football Group knowingly left itself a loophole that could be exploited if Lampard performed particularly well at Manchester - which is what ended up happening.
I understand it's worth more - a lot more - to have Manchester City defend their Premier League title successfully, compete successfully in the Champions League, and thus further their global brand; more so, certainly, than it is to have a successful MLS team, even if that team is in New York City. I also get that New York City is part of a larger organization, not a standalone entity. That means that the organization's executives are going to do what they feel is best for the organization.
That's fine. I get that. It's how modern soccer works, for better or worse.
But the ways in which the club misled season ticket holders and built an entire advertising campaign around seeing Lampard playing at Yankee Stadium on opening day - knowing full well that there was a non-zero chance that he wouldn't be there - is nothing short of appalling.
With respect to the other players, even David Villa, I wouldn't have given a thought to shelling out that much money - on a grad student budget, no less - if it weren't for the chance to see my most beloved player play for my city's team.
What's really frustrating is not that this has happened, but how New York City handled media and public relations over the summer and autumn, and how we were all duped as a result.
"We want to be New Yorkers. We are building a truly authentic New York team. This is not a Manchester City team or a brand play or a marketing trick - this is real" - Ferran Soriano, CEO of New York City and Manchester City FC
They made it seem like New York City would not be secondary to Manchester City in any way, and we, in good faith, believed them, and purchased our season tickets, our shirts, and our scarves.
And now? Now it is abundantly clear that this was simply not true, and we are righteously angry.
You want New York City to be a minor league, feeder club for Manchester City? Fine. You own both clubs, and that's your prerogative.
But don't sell us a pebble, and call it a diamond.
New Yorkers pride themselves on being street smart, but for 11,000 season ticket holders, this Lampard situation shows that we had the wool pulled over our eyes on this occasion.
That stings, and deeply. We may forgive, but we won't forget.