United Champions!

Fergie and Ron

Manchester United are league champions for the 16th time in their history. With Chelsea unable to beat Arsenal, United have wrapped up the title with two games to spare. Chelsea, knowing they needed to win to still have a mathematical chance at regaining their title, and knowing that United still had to come to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, made several changes to the eleven who were knocked out of the Champions League Semi Final by Liverpool in mid week. Ashley Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele were also missing, as were the injured duo of Shevchenko and Ballack, as a sign that Chelsea had almost realised the Championship was beyond them. When Boulahrouz brought down Baptiste towards the end of the first half, conceding a penalty, which was put away by Gilberto, and earning himself a red card, Chelsea seemed to throw in the towel. They played much of the second half like a defeated, tired team, a shadow of the arrogant, bullying, multi millionairs of the previous two seasons. But the Essien drew them level, and the belief came back. Another goal and United’s championship champagne would be put on ice for another few nights. But the goal never came and Mourinho was left to salute the travelling fans, telling them to keep their heads up, their team will be back next season. A third successive title proved beyond them as United had up the anti, and played the best football throughout the season. When Arjen Robben said before the season that Chelsea would make history by becoming the first team to with three successive Premiership titles, he showed a distinct lack of history of the English game, as United had managed the feat in the 99, 00, and 01 seasons. He also misread how hard it is to achieve such a run. Chelsea have been dethroned by the best team this season. This bears out when you consider that 8 of the PFA Team of the Year come from Old Trafford, and that Christiano Ronaldo made a clean sweep of all three player awards up for grabs. United’s brand of attacking, free flowing football, was a pleasure to watch, and the fact that they have managed to wrestle the title away from Stamford Bridge, without sacrificing their style of play, would have brought significant joy to their fans and to neutrals alike. The teams meet again in the FA Cup final, the first at the New Wembley Stadium, and whatever the result of that game, United fans will be pleased to know that they have proved strong enough to regain the league from the money bags of Chelsea. Next season should be very interesting.

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