Flashback to September 11, 2010 – Manchester United drop a 3-1 lead over Everton in injury time, going down 3-3 in one five draws in the early stages of the season, most of them away from home. Chelsea were devouring the league at that point, with Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba running rampage like on the league.
Six Months Later – The Chelsea fans went wild when Fernando Torres scored his first goal for Chelsea against West Ham. It took the 50 million pound man 14 matches to bag his first. He needed some benching to start scoring I guess. Northwest from London, Javier Hernandez squeezed in his 19th goal for Manchester United, his 12th in the league, giving Manchester United another 1-0 win at home, against the same Everton who always give United a hard time, with the 19th title looking closer than ever.
The criticism has been there all season – United aren’t playing well. Rooney is done. The key players are getting too old. Rooney isn’t done, but everything has been true, pretty much. Still, with an impotent Arsenal, seemingly in love with passing and the style everyone say they posses but oblivious to the fact that you need to win and keep hold of big leads in matches. With a Chelsea side that just fell apart due to a short squad and over-interference from the owner, making the manager looking like a lame duck waiting for the hunter to take him out and be gone.
It was there for Arsenal to take. Chelsea and Liverpool beat Manchester United in the same week as Ferguson was busy barking at the media or playing mute. Arsenal didn’t take advantage, Wayne Rooney started waking up, sort of, and it seems like ancient history. It’s not a sure thing yet – United have to play Arsenal at the Emirates and Chelsea at home before this season is over. Still potential for slip ups. Hard to believe that’ll happen.
So what kept Ferguson on track for the 19th title, United’s fourth in five seasons? It was Nani for most of the way. Since his injury at Anfield he hasn’t been himself, plus the return of Valencia has hurt his dominance on the wings a bit, bad personally but seems to be just fine for the team. Above all it was Vidic. With different pairings all season while Rio Ferdinand spent his time tweeting and god knows what while recovering, Vidic slowly cemented his place as probably the top central defender in the world. No more mental lapses and breakdowns, short cicuting while a striker was attacking him. Just solid, nearly perfect defending with Smalling and Evans by his side.
There were Hernandez and Berbatov. The Bulgarian didn’t do well consistently, he simply can’t. Still, somehow, I don’t know how, he’s finishing the season with 21 goals. When you have a player that you’re not exactly sure what he’s doing on the pitch at times but still manages to be the top scorer in the Premier League, well, you’re probably pretty well off. Coming to Mr. Clutch, Javier Hernandez.
It took time for Ferguson to realize how to use Chicharito and how good of a goalscorer he really is. Maybe his blind faith in Wayne Rooney as a goal provider also had something to do with it. Rooney, right now, is better off playing behind. Be it even right in the middle of the park, like yesterday against Everton. His passing is fantastic and he never stops working. Just what you want from your CM. For the sparks you got Giggs, from time to time, and always in the right time.
I know my boss didn’t really want this to happen but it will. With the weakest squad he’s had in years, Alex Ferguson pulled enough rabbits out of his old magicians hat once again and finally make Manchester United the team with the most domestic league titles in England. He’s nearly there, and I don’t see him being stopped.