United: Champions once more

Manchester United become the most successful team in English league history after claiming their 19th title

Wayne Rooney wheels away in celebration after clinching Manchester United the most vital of goals [AFP]

A late Wayne Rooney penalty gave Manchester United the draw that sealed their 19th English Premier League title and put the team ahead of Liverpool in the history books.

Manchester United only needed a point and got just that with their 1-1 draw at Blackburn on Saturday.

The title is now out of reach of reigning champions Chelsea and United can focus on their Champions League final clash with Barcelona on May 28.

Fergie’s final word

Ferguson looked like the winner of his first title – not 12th – as he joyously chased members of his championship winning team around the pitch. 

Despite coming under fire from the FA this season for his comments about referees, Ferguson proved that when it comes to winning titles he is the best manager in the Premier League.

“It was a fantastic performance by the lads and the supporters and for everybody connected with the club it’s a great day,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.

“It wasn’t an easy game, we went 1-0 down having given them a bad goal but we kept on and we don’t give in.”

While it was Javier Hernandez’ first title win with United, the Duracell-charged Ryan Giggs now has a remarkable 12 title wins under his belt with the club. The victory will be extra special for Giggs as it is the title that finally sees United surpass Liverpool’s 18 titles record.

“Twenty years ago we were nowhere near Liverpool,” said Giggs.

“It’s great credit to the club, the manager and the players and it’s a good feeling to be ahead of our greatest rivals.”

Midfielder Paul Scholes was also on the pitch to collect his tenth title. Both players are nearing the end of their professional careers and will be near impossible for Ferguson to replace.

Coming from behind, again

It was a nervy start for the Manchester side who were playing a fired up Blackburn team still fighting for Premier League survival. Their push for a point was not helped by Tomasz Kuszczak in goal who made a number of shaky stops to give Blackburn the confidence to get forward. 

It looked like United might have to put the champagne on ice when Australian Brett Emerton scored for Rovers after 20 minutes.

However, Paul Robinson gave United the chance to claim that priceless point when he failed to get his hands out of the way of Hernandez who raced into the penalty area.

It was fitting that the Mexican played a part in United’s equaliser after scoring over 20 goals in his debut season and being an invaluable source of inspiration for his teammates.

After conferring with the linesman Phil Dowd awarded the penalty and when Wayne Rooney stepped up to take it the writing was on the wall.

Rooney finished his tumultuous season on a high when he confidently stroked the ball past a helpless Paul Robinson. 

“I was terrified, the ref took a long time to give it,” Rooney said.

“I had to compose myself. I’d been practicing all week.”

All that was left to do was for United to hold the ball up for the remaining 15 minutes. Blackburn were happy for them to do so with a crucial point giving them a strong chance of avoiding relegation going into their last match of the season against Wolves.

Relegation rivalry

At the bottom of the table, Wolves climbed a point clear of the drop zone with an emphatic 3-1 victory away at Sunderland.

Blackpool kept the pressure on Wolves and continued their dogged fight for survival with a 4-3 win against Bolton in a thrilling encounter at Bloomfield Road.

Blackpool who remain in the bottom three travel to Old Trafford for their final game of the season. 

Saturday’s other match saw West Brom beat Everton 1-0, Youssouf Mulumbu scoring the only goal of the game at The Hawthorns in the 10th minute before the Toffees’ Russian substitute, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, was sent-off.

Drama till the end

After wins for Blackpool and Wolves, the pressure remains firmly on relegation contenders Birmingham, Wigan and West Ham. 

Results and Fixtures

Saturday May 14

 Blackburn 1-1 Man United
 Blackpool 4-3 Bolton
 Sunderland 1-3 Wolves
 West Brom 1-0 Everton

Sunday May 15

 Chelsea v Newcastle
 Arsenal v Aston Villa
 Birmingham v Fulham
 Liverpool v Tottenham
 Wigan v West Ham

Birmingham find themselves perched just on top of the relegation zone with 39 points, ahead of Blackpool on goal difference. They can move clear of the drop by gaining a point against Fulham on Sunday. 

The future remains very bleak for West Ham who now lie six points from safety. The Hammers must record a win in their match with Wigan on Sunday to have any hope of survival. However, Wigan will not be easy opponents as they also need a point to cling on to any survival hopes.

Liverpool and Tottenham battle for fifth position and qualification for European football in their match at Anfield. However, whatever the result, Liverpool fans are unlikely to be in jubilant mood this weekend after United’s most recent title win overhauls Liverpool’s legacy as the most successful team in English league history. 

Despite the historic achievement, Manchester United have been criticised by many as a team lacking the quality of Ferguson’s previous title winning sides.  

“We’re champions and in the Champions League – we’re rubbish aren’t we?” jibed Giggs. 

If they can beat Barcelona, they will be anything but.

Source: News Agencies


Alex Ferguson salutes the fans after his team move one point away from securing a historic 19th championship title

8 May 2011
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