By James Johnson.
Read the complete journey: The Journey From 1 to 19
After three seasons of transition and watching Jose Mourinho lead his Chelsea side to two consecutive league titles Manchester United finally got their title back.
The attacking talents of Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha were the main catalyst for United’s reclaiming of the Premier League crown. The forward three combined to score 39 goals between them in the league and an incredible 59 in all competitions.
The title was all but won at Goodison Park against Everton. After seeing Everton take a two goal lead and Chelsea go ahead against Bolton it was looking like another frustrating end to the season for Fergies men. But four goals in the second half from a Phil Neville own goal, John O’Shea, Wayne Rooney and Chris Eagles saw the title swing back towards Old Trafford.
By the time Man United played Chelsea at Stamford bridge in the penultimate game of the season, the title was back in United’s hands. This meant Chelsea had the pleasure of giving the likes of Kieron Richardson and Dong Fangzhuo a guard of honour.
The clubs increasingly impressive form in Europe saw them beat Roma 7-1 at Old Trafford and set up a semi final tie against AC Milan. After a stunning game at Old Trafford which United won 3-2 after a last minute Wayne Rooney strike, United went to Italy full of confidence. It wasn’t to be however as a makeshift back four were ripped apart by Kaka and co and they lost 3-0.
However the season was ultimately one of success and the start of building yet another side that would strike fear into teams across Europe.
It would be very difficult to talk about the 07/08 season without talking about the influence of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s 31 league goals helped propel United to their first back to back titles since the 9/00 and 00/01 seasons, and his goals throughout the Champions league campaign helped United to their third European cup.
The season started slowly with only four goals in the opening six games, and a derby day defeat against Manchester City in the third league of the season. However after beating Roma in the Champions League group stage the forward three of Ronaldo, Rooney and Carlos Tevez began to dominate games. In the next seven fixtures the team scored 24 goals.
After losing only their second league game of 2008 to Chelsea towards the end of the season, United went on to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi final and then beat Wigan Athletic to secure their 17th league title with goals from Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs.
United’s impressive home form was the foundation of the title win, the team won 17 of the 19 games they played at Old Trafford. After drawing against Reading on the opening day of the season they won the rest, bar the emotion filled game against Manchester City on the 10th February.
After beating Chelsea to the league title, United played their London rivals in Moscow in the Champions League final. After 120 minutes the game finished 1-1 and the match went to penalties. The rest as they say is history, John Terry stepped up to win the cup, he hit the post and United went on to win the European Cup for the third time. Bobby Charlton who 50 years earlier had survived the Munich air disaster went up with the team to lift the cup, and crowned another wonderful season for supporters of Manchester United.
The 08/09 season saw United become the first side to win three league titles in a row for the second time, and it was also the season that saw United equal Liverpool’s record of 18 English league titles.
Under Alex Ferguson, comebacks and late goals have become synonymous with Manchester United, and once again the most memorable and important results of the season included both of these.
After going two nil down at home to Aston Villa, United were facing their third defeat on the trot when Ronaldo equalised. If the result stayed the same it would be Liverpool who would have stayed top of the league, however debutant Federico Macheda had other ideas. In the 90th minute the 17 year old turned on the edge of the box and curled in a winner that saw Old Trafford erupt with noise.
From here United went on to win seven of their remaining eight league games, including another second half comeback against Spurs which ended 5-2 to the eventual champions.
Coupled with the record equalling title win, United also knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League semi final to set up a final against Barcelona. With the prospect of becoming the first team to win back to back Champions League trophies United went to Rome full of confidence. However it wasn’t to be as goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi meant the Catalan giants were crowned champions of Europe.
15 years after being told by Liverpool fans to “come back when you’ve won 18” United finally had fulfilled that task.
One word sums up the 10/11 season better than any other. Nineteen.
Before the season begun many of the ‘experts’ in the media were dismissing any chance of United winning the title. Many claimed we would be challenging for second place at best, whilst some such as Mickey Quinn believed we would be lucky to reach the top four.
Even as the season progressed and United came closer to the title the knives were out for the team. Many have claimed that the sole reason that United won the league was more to do with Chelsea and Arsenal not being good enough to win it themselves, conveniently forgetting that at the time of writing, United had scored the most goals in the league, have dropped just two points at Old Trafford and most important, have the most points.
After two seasons of not reaching expectations, Dimitar Berbatov has scored 21 league goals, whilst after a poor first half the season; Wayne Rooney came into form playing behind Javier Hernandez. The Mexican striker who arrived for seven million pounds before the World Cup has become a cult hero already with United supporters with his contribution of 20 goals in all competitions. Late winners throughout the season at Stoke and at home to Everton have clinched vital points that have culminated in the record 19th title.
2011 will always be known as the year that Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United finally knocked Liverpool right off their perch, and with a Champions League final still to come people may just have to accept that this United team is a lot better than they first thought.
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