By Ryan Cargill.
In 1986, after taking over at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson set out with the aim of knocking Liverpool off their perch; it may just become a reality this weekend.
On Saturday, United travel to Ewood Park to take on Blackburn Rovers knowing that a solitary point will see them claim a record 19th Premier League trophy.
With the players still on a high from last week’s monumental victory over Chelsea, they know that avoiding defeat at their Lancashire neighbours will see United overtake Liverpool as the most successful team in English football history.
The celebrations that followed Howard Webb’s final whistle were evident of a team that know they are one step from the finish line.
Man United’s form at Old Trafford has arrived them at this position alone. 14 straight league victories at the Theatre of Dreams since the disappointing 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion way back in October is nothing short of devastating form.
Especially in a league which, this season, has provided a huge element of surprise and inconsistency.
Coincidentally, immediately after the final whistle at Ewood Park, our friends City can break their 35 year voodoo when they take on Stoke City in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
Even if United claim the title on Saturday, Nemanja Vidic will have to wait until next week’s game against Blackpool to raise it aloft, after the Premier League confirmed its intention to stand by its policy of holding the official presentation at the champions’ final home game of the campaign.
We may see Ferguson chop and change a few of last week’s heroes as he begins to divert an eye to Wembley and Barcelona. Darren Fletcher will be in contention to start as he continues his return to fitness from a mystery virus.
Ferguson will be keen to give Fletcher every chance to prove his fitness before the Champions League Final, as he was evidently missed two years ago in Rome.
Ferguson has already admitted that 40-year old ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar will get a well deserved rest, with Tomasz Kuszczak expected to deputise on this occasion.
Dimitar Berbatov may get a rare start as he looks to claim the golden boot award. It is astonishing to think the Bulgarian remains two goals ahead of any others despite the scarcity of his appearances in the past few months.
Berbatov may be partnered by Michael Owen, who has promised fans on Twitter that he will deliver a big goal this season. With only three games left to deliver, let’s hope it arrives on Saturday lunchtime.
Or Ferguson may decide to continue with the ever-present threat of Javier Hernandez. With his priceless trait of pulling defenders here, there and everywhere, the little Mexican could be the key to unlocking the Rovers defence.
Blackburn should not be taken lightly though. Following their 1-1 draw away to West Ham last weekend, they sit only 3 points above the relegation zone and they know they can’t contemplate anything less than a win against United to ensure their Premier League survival.
United’s form at Ewood Park has been awful to say the least. Only two wins from 13 league visits would suggest it is not one of our favourite trips.
Even with a few players rested, a point should be a very possible prospect on Saturday. After all, we did see our second string destroy Schalke last Wednesday.
Without being disrespectful, the present day Blackburn side is a shadow of what it once was. With no stand out performers this season, it will be interesting to see what Steve Kean does to improve the fortunes of a team that were once United’s main rivals.
The champagne is on ice, here’s to hoping there is cause for double celebration on Saturday evening, deriving from wins by United and Stoke.
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