In a season in which we’ve done so very little the easy way and have scraped and scrapped to many results, I suppose it’s only natural that’s how we would achieve the required result today.
But for those who deal in black and white, there’s only one thing that matters in the present and hopefully for a long time to come:
Manchester United are the kings of English football for the 19th time.
In the thousands of words that I’ve written until now, and in all that I hope to write from here, it’ll be hard to find a sentence that’s sweeter written and read.
To be 100% honest, my celebrations were a fair bit more muted than I pictured they would be when the moment finally arrived. Perhaps part of it could be attributed to putting more thought into it ahead of time, that it was still relatively early in the day here, and that I didn’t want to overly disturb the still-sleeping missus, all of which could make for valid reasons.
But more than that, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed about a performance that wasn’t our best and that the title was clinched with the minimum required instead of a victory. And there’s also the matter of how the match petered out at the end anticlimactically, with us leisurely booting the ball amongst ourselves and Blackburn content to allow it and take the point.
At the same time, I can understand it. Both teams received a positive result, with United picking up the title-clinching point and Blackburn ensuring that they’re a point clear of the bottom three heading into next weekend’s finale at fellow survival hopeful Wolves, so there wasn’t a pressing need for either side to push for a winner. And hey, after exerting so much emotion to reach this point, it could be said that they perhaps earned the right to relax a little in those last minutes!
But any disappointment pales in comparison to the euphoria of knowing that the Premier League title is back where it belongs, and that United have made history.
I’ve been a United fan for the last five of United’s titles, and as it would happen, I’ve been in five different places each time the title was clinched. Of the five, I can say without a doubt that this one sticks out the most to me, not only because of its numerical and historical significance or how writing about the title pursuit and sharing in it with all of those who visit Red Rants has affected my fandom and my view of United.
For me, it’s what this bunch of champions is about. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Their belief, perseverance, resilience, ability to overcome adversity of all sorts, their never-say-die attitude. Sure, we all know that’s the Manchester United way, the Manchester United spirit, but this team invokes that Manchester United spirit if ever any team has.
And the difference between many of United’s previous title-winning teams is that this team was not expected to achieve what it has. Not only are we champions, but in a fortnight, we’ll be taking on Barcelona in the Champions League final.
Many will attempt to diminish the achievement, and for all that they’ve pointed to already, they’ll heap on the fact that the achievement was sealed through a draw earned via a penalty. But I’ve already said my piece about how deserving United are, and to summarize it, if United don’t deserve it, then Chelsea, Arsenal, or City sure don’t either. And as for the penalty, I didn’t care for all of the initial crowding around Phil Dowd, but a) the right decision was made, and b) credit to Phil Dowd for doing the right thing, and after shooing the crowd of players away, taking the time to consult with his well-placed assistant and making said decision.
And no matter how contentious and controversial a penalty decision might be, the opportunity must be converted. Any penalty situation isn’t easy, but when there’s as much on the line as there was at that moment, the nerves and emotion had to be magnified. So for Wayne Rooney to coolly slot it home is no small achievement, and for him, it could be considered coming full circle. In a season in which he struggled so mightily for several months, in which his on and off-pitch controversies were front and center, in which his commitment to United was questioned, the boy from Liverpool, the Everton product, stepped up and delivered the goal that sent United past Liverpool at the top of the title heap. Can’t get any better than that, can it?
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