|photo by derekGavey||via PhotoRee|
So it's finally here, and I still don't know how I'm supposed to feel. Overjoyed? Boastful? Delirious? Relieved? I'm talking, of course, about how I felt at the very first realization that United have -- for a record nineteenth time in their illustrious history -- again won the English title.
Truth be told, I suppose my first reaction was pure relief. After the agony of the Arsenal game the weekend prior, and the never-ending seven day span until the page could be turned, there was nothing but nausea. Could we really be cocking this one up? After leading the league for five months would the title vanish like a mirage as we reached the all-important end stage? Could Chelsea -- a side I was convinced was over the hill, and benefitted from playing a bunch of weakened teams over the last nine weeks -- really come back from a fifteen (15!) point deficit to pip us right at the line? Was the monster at the end of the book of the horror film variety, or was it just a playful reminder from United that they're still human after all?
And then Sunday's performance ratcheted up the potential for all hope to be dashed just a bit further. After cruising comfortably for 65+ minutes -- so comfortably I never doubted victory would be ours right up until the ball ricocheted off Frank Lampard's foot and into the back of Van der Sar's net -- all of a sudden it was right back there again: the uncomfortable feeling that the whole thing could be slipping away. Even the fact that the Reds looked the more likely of the two sides to score in the final fifteen did little to still my racing heart. It wasn't until the last Chelsea shot whistled over the bar and VDS wiped his brow - mimicking my behavior at home -- that it dawned on me once more: we were going to win. Again. And this one mattered more than most.
And so I finally began to enjoy it. I rewound the game almost immediately, to savor the first 36 seconds and beyond. This time I knew there would be no Chelsea equalizer, no monster arising from the grave to terrorize us once more. This time I knew that the champiosnhip was all but there, a formality requiring one point over two games. This time I knew it was ours.
And I'll savor it like a fine wine. I'll rejoice in it. Because unlike others out there I am under no illusion. Success is illusory and fleeting. The world is Manchester United's right now, but it won't always be that way. Success is a fickle mistress, and can soon cast you off in favor of someone else. So I'll enjoy the next two matches because I know that point will come -- and there'll be doubt no longer. Just joy. And I'll take that.
This is farlieonfootie for May 10.