It was a marvellous occasion. Late Spring 2007. Wednesday evening. The pitch was so green. Their royal blue stood in marked contrast to our bright red. The stadium was sombre, all but for the 3000 man choir in the corner of the Shed End, singing to the man with orange skin and a silver puffa jacket.
“Mourinho, are you listening? You better keep our trophy glistening. We’ll be back in May, to take it away, walking in a Fergie wonderland.” The sing had been sung for months and today it came in to fruition.
Lined either side of the pitch by the entrance to the tunnel stood John Terry, Michael Essien, Claude Makelele, and John Obi Mikel, the young lad who had missed an entire year of his career to try and get out of his contract with Manchester United in favour of joining Chelsea, amongst others. With gritted teeth they applauded our players on to the pitch.
The likes of Dong Fangzhuo, Kieran Lee, Chris Eagles, Tomasz Kuszczak and Kieran Richardson strolled on, acknowledging the travelling support, before lining up to play our first game as Champions, having gone since 2003 since winning the league.
A few weeks before, the game had been billed as a title decider, but after Chelsea failed to beat Arsenal three days earlier, we had been named Champions. It felt incredible to receive a Guard of Honour for our second string from the team that had threatened to dominate English football indefinitely after Roman Abramovich had bought them.
Back to present day, Manchester United moved five points clear of Manchester City last night after we beat Blackburn at Ewood Park. A month ago today we were the ones five points behind with a goal difference worse by thirteen. So, it wasn’t long ago that this country looked to the game between United and City at the Etihad as a potential title clincher for the blues.
I’m not getting carried away with myself. There are still seven games to go and we should all know by now that United don’t ever do things the easy way but imagining hypothetically, if we were to definitely win the title, in which circumstances would you choose?
For us to win it at their place, we have to be 7 points clear at the final whistle, meaning we have to match their results, apart from winning when they draw. If we match their results between now and then but beat them on the night, we win the league.
To receive the guard of honour, we would have to be 10 points clear at the final whistle, meaning they have to draw and lose one more than us before then. Three of their four games before we play them are away and City’s away form this season stands at W7 D4 L4 (compared to our away form of W12 D3 L1, out of interest).
Would you rather see their players applaud us on to the pitch, as title rivals Chelsea had to in 2007, or would you rather us go there needing a win for the title?
The idea of watching their ridiculously expensive team welcoming on to the field and celebrating our success feels too good to be true. It is only bettered by the possibility that Carlos Tevez could be in the starting line-up by then.
However, as tense and sickening we would feel ahead of kick-off, the thought of getting a result at their place to win the league is surely second to none? It would be absolute magic.
Essentially, I’d gladly take winning the title with a goal at 4.25pm at Sunderland on the final day of the season but it’s not too unrealistic to think we could win it before then. Which would you prefer?