After a storming display at Old Trafford against Arsenal, one could be forgiven for thinking that United would have a cricket score against bottom of the table Sunderland a week later. As every game was a must win game, it seemed a perfect chance for us to pick up 3 points, as well as sort out our goal difference. Having scored more goals than Chelsea, yet conceding far too many, we needed to pick up more than a handful, just in case the season came down to it.
But of course, United carried out their speciality, of beating the big teams, but then losing out on points to the crappy teams. To think, the best team we’ve lost to this season is Blackburn, whilst beating Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. Sunderland were relegated on Friday, after drawing with us. United carried out the first half as if they were on the training ground, Ronaldo flicking and stepping over the ball whenever it came in to his possession, and was guilty of missing easy chances, alongside Ruud and Rooney. All credit has to go to the Sunderland keeper, who made at least 3 saves no one could have expected any keeper to make. Typical that he has his game of the season against us.
United’s title hopes were squashed, and people were even talking about 2nd place not being as secure as we thought. With Liverpool winning away at Blackburn with a single goal which should have been ruled out for Cisse’s 4 yard offside, bringing them to just 3 points of United with a game in hand, going to Spurs, currently the 4th best team in the league, may have looked slightly more tricky. If United lost, Chelsea could win the title at the Bridge if they beat Everton.
Within the first 10 minutes there were great chances for both sides, setting the tone for what was to become a great game of football. United were the better side in the first half, going in at the break 2 goals up. A superb cross in to the area from Ronaldo which Rooney keenly buried, to be followed up by a mistake at the back by Spurs, which Park made the most of, to set Rooney up for his 2nd.
10 minutes after the restart, Spurs found themselves just 1 goal behind, after a defensive mess up by United, a Vidic clearing header rebounded in to Rio, which Jenas easily nudged over the line. Ruud had two chances which he should have put away, one coming back off the woodwork, but as the clock ticked down, it was clear Spurs didn’t have enough to get an equalising goal. Rooney and Park were tireless in their efforts going forward and tracking back, with Captain Neville continuing his amazing form.
A well deserved and wanted 3 points for United, but provides little consolation to whatever vague title hopes we had being brushed aside just days before. United have now picked up 15 points from a possible 21 from the 4 teams joining us in the top 5, with Chelsea at the Bridge still to go, where, if United don’t get a result, Chelsea could be crowned champions.
However, considering Jose claimed the title would have been won by the Saturday just gone, United should take pride in the great come back we’ve had in the 2nd half of the season, when finally some sort of regular first XI could be played on a weekly basis.
Our aim has to be getting as close to Chelsea as possible, and hopefully doing the double over them by beating them at the Bridge. I know I’m hugely positive over what could happen next season, with Heinze returning to our back 4, and without doubt the inclusion of some new central midfielders. No discredit to O’Shea and Giggs, who have formed a surprisingly great partnership, but we need someone new in there, just to at least give us options, which we haven’t had all season, with all our central midfielders being struck down with long term injury at some point of the season.
A week off for United fans now, as we sit back and watch Liverpool vs Chelsea in the FA Cup semi final. It’s too painful to pick who I want to win though.