Sunday, May 15, 2011

We are the Champions

photo by eirikrefvia PhotoRee

More on the title later this week, as United's 1-all draw away at Blackburn handed the Reds their fourth EPL title in the last five years, and more importantly, their 19th overall, making them the most crowned team in the history of the English game.

In the meantime, however, a few thoughts on what was actually a fairly pedestrian game, the best part of which came with the final whistle:
  • Sir Alex went for the jugular, putting out a side that was built to go forward.   Although ironically the game ended in a draw, with the attacking team put on the pitch Saturday the Scot showed it's not really in his DNA to play for the draw United needed to win the Championship.
  • On the other hand, the more I see of Blackburn, the more I realize Chris Samba is their entire team. Offense and defense. End of story.
  • The United traveling crowd was in great voice at Ewood Park, and absolutely fantastic to hear. It's one of the few games this season in which at least some of the gameday atmosphere really carried all the way through the television and straight into the home. "Attack, Attack, Attack" has always been one of my favorite United chants, as it sums up what we love about our boys: a team not afraid to take it straight at anyone, home or away.
  • Tomas Kuszczak hasn't played much this season, and today was Exhibit A as to why. The Pole in Goal was all over the place prior to Blackburn's first goal. Rattled by a mistake on a backpass, just a minute later Kuszczak was then caught way out of position chasing a ball near the end line, and never really made his way back to the right spot before being beaten by Emerton for Blackburn's goal.  I've got to say, he didn't exactly inspire confidence on that play or several subsequent ones, either.
  • Although a penalty on Blackburn 'keeper Paul Robinson ultimately gave United the point they needed, Phil Dowd missed a clear penalty on Gael Givet against Antonio Valencia even earlier in the game. Givet made no attempt to play the ball, and took Valencia down in a heap in the box. Making Dowd's call even more galling is the fact that he whistled a foul on Valencia instead of the Frenchman, resulting in yet another poor call in a season full of referees' mistakes.
  • United were extremely fortunate not go go down 2-nil, when only the thinnest of margins off the post saved Martin Olsson's shot from doubling the home side's lead. Given subsequent developments in the game, that post proved mighty important.
  • I'm not a fan of the new trend in football which sees teams rushing the referee while he's debating a decision, such as occurred after the trip of Chicharito in the box with a little under 20 minutes left. Having slated Dowd for an earlier mistake, it's only fair to say I thought he did the proper thing under the circumstances in this case: consulting with his assistant prior to making the call. Although it would have been easy for Dowd to wave off the foul or point immediately to the spot, the referee took his time, and ultimately got the decision right.
  • Ian Darke of ESPN hit the nail on the head when he stated that Ryan Giggs may be referred to as Sir Ryan one day in the future. The most decorated player in. English football history would fit nicely along two other United legends and knights: Sir Bobby and Sir Alex.
  • The air went out of the game ball after the 80th minute, as both teams went into football's version of the four corner offense. A draw did neither team any real harm, and it was clear that the result suited both just fine as they literally passed the clock on toward full time.
  • I loved United's celebration at the end, and not just as a fan but also for what it said about the men on the pitch. They won this season as a team, and they celebrated as a team. Nani and Valencia hugging, Berbatov and Chicharito embracing, these are guys who could be rivals, but instead put the team first and foremost. My favorite moment was Rio singing "We got our trophy back". Classic stuff.
This is farlieonfootie for May 15.

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