Yes, one hand on the title it is. Wigan won their game yesterday against Villa and ensured their survival. So they have nothing to play for when they face us next week. Despite it being an away game, this season’s Premier League title is only United’s to lose.
But getting back to yesterday’s game, it’s nice to see the swagger back. Presumably, the win against Barcelona could have driven the men on. Or perhaps, it’s the knowledge that, with only three games to go, prior to yesterday, they can afford to give it their all for the final push.
Either way, a warm welcome to Manchester United as we know them. What we saw over the past two-three weeks was a pale shadow, to be honest.
Now it feels so nice to be writing about a big win after a long time that you can’t really think of things to write about; the performance was top notch with every player playing so well that you can’t really spend time dwelling on shortcomings like we did in previous games. Plus, it would also be boring to be saying, Ronaldo was excellent, Rio was fantastic, Tevez was amazing, Man Utd played like Champions — in a drone similar to the puppet on Setanta Sports. So let’s just keep this short for a change, and instead bask in the happiness.
With Rooney still out, Fergie went with his strongest team — just as I thought he would — and sent the same side he did against Barcelona; Park and Nani played in the wings; Ronaldo and Tevez upfront; Carrick and Scholes in midfield; Evra, Rio, Brown, Hargreaves and EVDS at the back.
Ronaldo immediately opened the account in the third minute by making Lucas Neill look silly, cutting in and scoring goal number 39. Soon after he was to score #40 thanks to an excellent cross by Hargreaves and the Portugeezer’s gifted thighs/crotch/thigh+crotch (throtch?). Carlos Tevez belted in a screamer and apologised to the Hammers fans, who in turn applauded him. Strangely the atmosphere appeared pretty cordial as United supporters applauded Dean Ashton’s brilliant overhead kick.
As an aside, there were murmurs in the press about Fergie being interested in the Hammers striker — I read somewhere that he was a Man Utd fan too as a kid. While I can’t take this seriously, I would certainly expect this to gather weight as he’s now scored against us, and Fergie’s been a known admirer of players who perform well against United. Personally, I found him promising when he first arrived from Norwich but has now been too injury prone for my liking.
Even Michael Carrick, another ex-Hammer, scored — albeit helped by a deflection to make it 4-1.
But before this there was some drama. Lucas Neill and Nani were involved in a bit of a scuffle which ended up with Nani headbutting him and falling like he was tasered by an invisible entity. It was clear that Neill provoked him into doing what he did; the Australian himself falling down like he’d been shot. But Nani’s behaviour — both the headbutt as well as him falling down — was disgusting to watch.
It’s hard to point fingers at other teams when some of your own resort to play acting of this kind. Ronaldo did a lot of this, but has now cut it more or less from his game. Nani could do well to learn from him that diving will haunt him later on in his career as it could be a case of the boy who cried wolf. Ronaldo has been faced with countless such situations of late, and it is his reputation that has become a burden on him. When Fergie’s and CQ’s post match talk accept that it was a fair decision from the referee, you know they would have beaten some sense into Nani.
Moving on to pleasant stuff, it’s good to see Hargreaves playing so many games in a short span amid concerns over his fitness. It’s good that players like Rooney, Tevez, Hargreaves don’t have to be involved in the Euro’s. They all deserve a lot of rest and some rehabilitation to get in peak shape for the next season. I would have also wanted Ronaldo to give himself a break, but at the moment he does seem like an unstoppable machine.
Monday will see Chelsea visit St. James’ Park and could be tricky given Newcastle’s good form. But if we do our job next weekend it doesn’t really matter.
Loved the game yesterday, loved the movement. Loved Fergie addressing the crowd and appreciating their support in our last home game of the season. Hopefully the next time we return, it will be with a League trophy and a Champions’ League crown.
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