By Matt Dodd.
1) Knocked off their perch
“Au revoir Cantona and Man Utd, come back when you’ve won 18.” Well, Manchester United will be back at Anfield next season with one better than that, and I’m sure comical banners and songs for that trip to Merseyside are already being created. First-half goals from Javier Hernandez and Nemanja Vidic were enough for United to seal victory over title challengers Chelsea and virtually claim a phenomenal 19th title which will confirm United as the most successful team in English domestic history. It is sheer testament that Sir Alex Ferguson is the most successful manager ever in English football. Even he never thought we would quite literally knock Liverpool off their perch by overtaking them in terms of titles, but he has now achieved it.
2) Hunger the key
The difference between Man United and Chelsea on Sunday was desire. Although Chelsea may have a more technical gifted side, full of perhaps better individual players, United had far more hunger. From the first whistle, it was simply palpable that United wanted to win far more than Chelsea did. Sir Alex is largely responsible for United’s terrific hunger, which has perhaps been the difference in winning and losing titles over the years. Fergie has installed that into United’s DNA, and you would think that would always stay with United, when Fergie finally departs and beyond. Hunger was the main reason United beat Chelsea, and is the main reason United will be crowned champions.
3) Fantastic industry
Over the last two months especially, we have seen a lot of ‘industrial’ type performances from United which has been highly effective, and this was evident against Chelsea. Valencia never stopped running down the right flank, and made it a horrible afternoon for the usually well-equipped Ashley Cole, giving the left-back arguably his hardest task since he faced Cristiano Ronaldo. Even more so, Park’s industry and hard work was outstanding. The South Korean chased every ball near him, was determined to recover any pass he misplaced and his movement off the ball was truly excellent. Whatever his diet is, (and I doubt it involves eating dogs as the song suggests) it works brilliantly.
4) Still tearing you apart
Again United fans warned Chelsea that Ryan Giggs will be tearing their team apart, but again it seems that Chelsea just did not listen. The Welshman has impressively played (and scored) in every season since the formation of the Premier League; ferociously tearing teams apart since 1991. Again on Sunday he was fantastic. Aided by the ever-improving Michael Carrick – whom Giggs is forming a formidable partnership with, he was given a good deal of freedom to roam. Though it’s clear that he doesn’t quite have the acceleration that he did in his 20s, he certainly hasn’t lost the stamina, the cleverness and the technical craft – and he illustrated this against Chelsea in style.
5) Finish the job off
It’s easy to forget that United have not yet regained the title. As Mike Phelan has stressed, the mission is not yet complete. With a point still needed, United will be looking to get the job done at Ewood Park on Saturday. Regardless of United’s away form this season, regardless of team selection, Fergie will want United to go out and go for a win. Wrapping up the title on Saturday would enable United to fully focus on Barcelona and the Champions League final – and victory at Wembley would cap off a truly memorable season for Manchester United.
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