Random thoughts from the closing chapter to a record-breaking 19th Championship:
Pretty emotional stuff today, saying goodbye to Edwin Van Der Sar. It was very nice that not only the Old Trafford faithful, but also Ian Holloway and the Blackpool fans, acknowledged VDS' career. Pure class all the way 'round.
A day of finality at the Theater of Dreams: Van Der Sar, Wes Brown, Owen Heargraves, and potentially Paul Scholes and Michael Owen going, going and gone. Also, Charlie Adam likely saying goodbye to his mates at Blackpool.
Almost overlooked amidst all the hoopla surrounding the nineteenth title: Mike Dean was in charge of the game today. Thank God he couldn't really hurt us at this point in the season.
Dean did his best to try, though, overlooking a clear penalty on Charlie Adam against Ji-Sung Park in the first half, and later awarding a bogus free kick that led to Blackpool's equalizer, even as his linesman was signalling offside. Never mind, signalled back the eunuch, preferring not to let plain-as-day facts stand in the way of his obvious bias against the League winners. Compounding the head referee's mistakes in the second half, Dean's linesman missed another obvious offside that led to Blackpool's second goal. Is it an FA rule that Dean and crew must award the opposition an offside goal when overseeing a game at Old Trafford?
Watching Berbatov on the pitch today filled me with two thoughts: 1) He's very good at holding up the outlet pass when playing as the lone striker. He's a lot stronger than people give him credit for, and his control of the ball is almost Iniesta-like. It's something United lack when he's not in the lineup, often giving the ball away cheaply -- something they can't afford to let happen next weekend; and 2) It was an absolutely sublime touch from Berbatov led to the Reds' first goal today. Just as I was thinking it's a bit hard to judge Berba's performance today, playing the focal point in front of a seldom-used midfield of Scholes and Flethcer, the Bulgarian showed off his ridiculous touch, knocking down the ball with his chest and dropping it with the gentlest of kicks directly into the path of Ji.
United came out flat as a pancake to begin the game's second half, with a full ten minutes passing before I can remember them creating even the slightest chance. They did pick up the pace as the half wore on, largely spending the last 30 minutes of the game trying to get the ball into Berbatov. Unfortunately, the goal which would have given the Bulgarian a clear lead in the Golden Boot was never forrthcoming.
But while Berbatov didn't score, I have to take note that Ando's started to find the back of the net.... He could be a five or ten goal scorer next season if he keeps playing the way he is right now.
Ian Evatt's name may unfortunately go down on the wrong side of history with his late own goal dooming the Tangerines to relegation. Michael Owen's goal probably let him off the hook a bit, but the Evatt own goal was was the real sound of the clock striking midnight on the Tangerines' magical season. I'm sorry to see Blackpool get relegated,and hope they make their way quickly back to the Prem. They were by far one of the most enjoyable teams to watch this season, scoring goals by the bucketful. Unfortunately, though, they also allowed a bucketful plus a couple.
The goal that made it a 4-2 final scoreline wasn't Michael Owen's long-promised crucial goal, was it? I have a feeling he's saving that one for Wembley next weekend.