Many of the connotations in the build-up and surrounding Manchester United’s record breaking 19th league Championship have been highly negative ones. One of those being, this is by no means a ‘vintage’ Manchester United side. Nonetheless, they’ve been step above the chasing pack for the majority of the season.
Perhaps, it was fitting that the Red Devils won this Premier League crown – the 12th of the Ferguson era – on the ground in which they lost it last season; Ewood Park. A 0-0 draw wasn’t good enough, as Chelsea went on to lift the title, however, this season; a draw was all that was needed to secure number 19.
Home and away forms have been at opposite ends of the spectrum this season. Old Trafford, as expected, has been a fortress (W17 D1 L0), while away form has been dodgier than some of Theo Walcott’s runs – with the dropping of points left, right and centre (W5 D10 L4).
According to many, United may have trudged their way to this title, not without the help of their contenders, Chelsea had a rip-roaring, smash and grab start to the season, only to falter from early November till mid-January. While United on the other hand, made a slow start to the season, but found their form at exactly the right time – when Chelsea went through their rough patch.
There have been many revelations at Old Trafford this season. Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs even in the twilight of their respective careers, have both enjoyed Indian summers as of late. Edwin Van der Sar, the Dutch veteran has perhaps saved the very best till the last days of his career; he will be sorely missed when he hangs up his gloves after the Champions League final against Barcelona.
The emergence of Javier Hernandez (bought before last summer’s World Cup) has been another revelation for both the manager and fans alike – many expected him not to bed in immediately, but he has done so with grace – even keeping Premier League top scorer, Dimitar Berbatov rooted to the bench. Antonio Valencia returned from a horrible early season injury revitalised, and Nani has had a wonderful season, seeing him with highest number of assists in the league and 9 goals under his belt.
The Rooney contract debacle was brushed underneath the carpet in the bowels of Old Trafford, as it was nipped in the bud by Ferguson – allowing Rooney to finally return to his very best form having something to prove to the fans. He has flourishing in a much more withdrawn role in the Manchester United line-up since then.
While many of those aforementioned players have been vital in the title tilt, something which sets Manchester United apart from the rest of the chasing pack is their never say die attitude, which is instilled in them by their manager, and this innate ability to turn games on their head. No doubt the famous Fergie ‘hairdryer’ has been used on occasion this season, namely in games against Blackpool and West Ham. Both of which they found themselves 2-0 down at half time, only to mount a comeback and win said games 3-2 and 4-2 respectively.
Those are the games that win you titles and make or break your season.
Had United’s away form matched their home form then who knows, the title could have been wrapped up a month or two earlier. And, with a little over a week to go to the Champions League Final – if United were to triumph at Wembley against Barcelona – surely this side deserves a lot more credit than they’ve already received?
The Double wouldn’t be a bad achievement for a side that isn’t considered to be a ‘vintage’ Manchester United side.