Hopefully last Sunday will be the first and last time I jump out of my seat, grab anyone within arms length and scream like a girl, when Arsenal score a goal. Although the Gooners seemed to try very hard to throw all their points against 10 men Chelsea away, it was the moment that United won the league. Strangely, somewhat of an anti-climax, considering we didn’t have to kick a ball. I was at the City game the day before, and I, along with few other United fans (after the measly allocation we were given at the council house) celebrated the title that day. That was the day of sheer joy. Sunday was the day to drink, and drink, and drink.
I was at Old Trafford a couple of weeks before, for the Boro game, and as I was walking along to the ground with my mate, I just had a sick feeling in my stomach, a sickly excitement at least anyway. We had yet to play Milan, and I talked with my mate about how wonderful this season could be. I’d been at Old Trafford to see us batter Roma, who were more than 20 points ahead of Milan in the league, I’d been at Villa Park to see us batter Watford, and we had just five games to get through in the league. Just five more games. Please do it United. The idea of winning all three competitions seemed ridiculous, terrifyingly ridiculous. The idea of the league being ours was enough to keep me full, and like most United fans, regarded anything else as a bonus, but I couldn’t get rid of the idea of winning more than one. My imagination seemed to tease me with it. And as we were walking up the steps to our seats, my imagination taunted me with the other alternative. Chelsea beat Liverpool, Chelsea beat us or Milan in the final of the European Cup, Chelsea beat us in the FA Cup final, and United throw away the league and Chelsea beat us in that too. We’d been the best team all bloody season, and Chelsea would pinch it from us, and we’d hear commentators drone on about “that’s why they’re champions”. I couldn’t bear it.
Leaving the Middlesbrough game in the rain, devastated, that the pessimistic daydreams were the ones that were to come true. That Chelsea would get the win against Newcastle the following day, and over the closing weeks it would slip away from us. It felt almost certain, and I wanted to kick and punch the shit out of everything at arm’s length whilst equally wanting to crawl under my duvets and sleep until August. It was a shit day.
Now of course, we know what really did happen next, and whilst bowing out of Europe after a thrilling 3-2 win at home, followed by a disgraceful 3-0 defeat away, the title became ours. The wonderful comeback against Everton away, the less than wonderful display at City away, in contrast with Chelsea’s draws at home to Bolton and at the Emirates, left us Champions.
Of course there have been and will be people who blame the Chelsea injuries, and I can’t say I blame them. There has to be an element of disbelief that a team that cruised to claim the title the season before, who have a “genius” manager, and who signed three of the best players in the World in the summer, played such average football, and eventually conceded the title by seven points with two games to play. How did that happen? Logically, it shouldn’t have done. It shouldn’t have even been close. So the fact Chelsea were without Terry and Cech is the only way it can be justified. They will of course ignore that both Neville and Vidic spent longer out injured than Terry did, that United have spent periods of the season with just one striker, with Ole, Smith and Saha all injured, and that United actually had to play with Richardson and Fletcher together as their full backs because of injuries. That would ruin the image of this special manager, who for some reason has managed to con the British public, and Europe to some extent, in to thinking he is one of the best in the World.
I cannot wait for tomorrow. I cannot wait to see the trophy in our players hands again. I cannot wait to see the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo with their first league title, and have the memories of this day years from now when they’re collecting yet another. I cannot wait to sing “Championees” every match. I cannot wait to realistically be able to sign well known World class players again. I cannot wait to watch Match of the Day every week, and see the opening title sequence end with Gary Neville in red, holding the trophy proudly above his head. I cannot wait to hear the commentators say, “tune in today to watch the Champions play Chelsea”. I cannot wait to be a couple of goals ahead and sing “Two nil to the Champions”. All season we have looked forward to this moment, this goal which at times seemed unachieveable, and so now is the time to enjoy it.
We did it! At long last, we did it!
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