Tuesday, 31 May 2011

TRIBUTE TO A LEGEND! PS18







He's staying at the club to take up a coaching role but we'll miss him! He's not a man of many words so I'll sum up his tribute in these words; 'If Lionale Messi is one of a line of great players we have witnessed, Paul Scholes is a one-off.'

Monday, 30 May 2011

ANTI-CLIMAX BUT UNITED DID US PROUD IN 2010/11!



After missing out narrowly in the fight for the title last season, we expected Manchester United to come out all guns blazing into the new season with the ultimate goal of winning us that 19th league title. Obviously we hoped for a few top buys in the summer to help us achieve that goal. We hadn't really replaced Ronaldo and Tevez the summer before so hearts sunk a bit when the manager announced that Bebe, Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez were to be our only purchases in the summer. He had to be kidding right? But no, that was it.
As fans of this great club, we've learned to trust our manager more than anyone or anything else at the club so deep down, we knew that Sir Alex knew best.
The media couldn't see us better the big spending City and Chelsea and most even dared predict that we would finish outside the top four, behind City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and that Spurs would even have a better season than us.

The season started with a 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Wembley so it was ironic that it ended with a 3-1 victory over Barcelona at Wembley. But at the end of it all, you have to go back and picture yourself in August. What were your club's main goals.
I expected us to win the league----as I usually do, and as far as I can remember, that was it. We've won the League Cup quite a few times lately so I didn't particularly pay attention to that accolade at the time, the FA Cup has had an issue with us since 2004 and I usually struggle to remember that it's there for the taking and the Champions League, you felt would be asking too much of our squad which was more or less in transition.

Roll on to May and look what's in the cabinet---The League. And this is not just any title; Manchester United teams in 70 years to come (hopefully I'll still be alive to testify) will remember this current side as the one that put us on top of the domestic food chain in terms of success. It's a fantastic feeling that we now have more FA Cups and League titles than any other club in the country. That is the kind of position that does justice to this great club.
The manager also went the extra mile to make us dream by doing so well in the Cup and in the Champions League that for so long in the season, there was talk of a treble in the press---the same press that sad we would end up at best in third place in the league.

Last four of the Cup, Champions League finalists for the third time in four years and now record Champions of England. You just can't help but imagine what we would achieve if we were not hampered by the debt weight the Glazers put on us.

The measure of success this year is only confirmed by the fact that but for the brilliance of Barcelona who are now the best team in the sport by a mile, we would be Champions of Europe and England.

What makes Sir Alex special is his ability to keep the titles coming even during the transitional years of the team. Giggs, Scholes and EVDS are smoothly being eased out of the club as he gets ready replacements who will ensure that we keep competitive and successful.

In the end though we are lucky fans. We are lucky that we support a club that keeps us happy during the season and in the summer. A club that has made us so drunk with success that we take defeat as though we're enjoying it for a change.

I'll do an in depth season review soon but for now; I'm thankful that the club has PULLED IT OFF!
Glory Glory Manchester United.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

OFFICIALLY CHAMPIONS, THEN GIGGS, THEN WEMBLEY 2011







Manchester United finally got their hands on the real Premier League trophy on Sunday accompanied with another 4-2 comeback victory over Blackpool. Tangerine were effectively relegated by the result---the only ill feeling to penetrate an otherwise joyful atmosphere inside Old Trafford.
Whilst it's easy to take in league success this season and get on with the next job at hand, I feel that we shall look back at this particular title with even grater emotion in the future so I'm not rushing the moment. I'm loving every minute of being associated with this football club almost as though they are paying me for it.

In his post match interview during the title celebrations, Sir Alex quickly pointed out that not too much champagne would be poured out because the club does have another date with history on Saturday night.--More on that later.

The hot-selling Manchester United story however has nothing to do with football. It is alleged that Ryan Giggs is the footballer that had an affair with Imogen Thomas (former Big Brother star). Whilst we're all human, let me just vent my frustration with all this; Ryan Giggs is the one player that personifies Manchester United's success in the recent past. Whether he likes it or not, whatever he does will always be associated with Manchester United---a small burden that comes with being the club's most decorated player, and record appearance holder.
Sir Alex must be cursing because just when you thought the Wayne Rooney 'thing' was the last of its kind at our club, this comes up. I man the game coming up in itself poses enough threats of its own to ponder about and now he's got to accommodate this. The Wayne Rooney 'thing' nearly threatened to undo our season and only a manager of Sir Alex's abilities could wither the storm. Thankfully we now look at it as a bygone because we're now league Champions again.

The last thing that Sir Alex needed ahead of the Champions League final was 'this new thing.' Ryan Giggs is odds on to start that game at Wembley----and I'd be gutted if he didn't. So you wonder how much will be playing on his mind come Saturday evening. I know there's talk of his experience and all but hey; as we've all been reminded with this latest scandal, we're all human--subject to the same mental and emotional reactions of life's situations. Having said that, If I was to pick anyone in the Manchester United team who could juggle the media and pressure ahead of such a game, then I'd pick Giggs. I really hope that we shall sort this out next week with the European Cup seated alongside the League title.

Barcelona are already in London largely because a certain volcano in Iceland is not their biggest fan. I'll take it that nature is also against them. So hopefully wildlife can join in as well. Here's to Eagles, Vultures, Lions, Tigers, and Elephants raiding the Thames hotel on Friday night.

Finally Sir Alex has confirmed that David De Gea is the goalkeeper who will replace EVDS. I hope the lad enjoys his time in Manchester----and I mean the weather. The next name doing the rounds in the papers today is Ashely Young. You can expect that given that the CEO labelled this a busy summer, they'll be a few 'done deals' doing the rounds in the papers.

Cheers y'all---especially to that wildlife part!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

GALLERY; NUMBER 19!






As we await the official presentation of Number 19. . . After this, you can't claim that you lack wallpaper.

Credits: The Official Website; MAN UTD.COM

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

TAKING IN THE MOMENT WITHA LOOK AHEAD TO WEMBLEY


Scott Red of the very wonderful Republikofmancunia blog recently published an article that was a bookmark of the predictions Journalists around the country had about the 2010/2011 Premier League Season. Like many ABUs and fans for good measure, Manchester United were largely between third place and fourth place in the predictions. Some went as far as predicting that United would finish the season outside the top four places.


Roll on May 2011 and we are once again Champions of England--this time for a record breaking 19th time. It must be said; this past season has been like no other in terms of competition and I reckon that future seasons will struggle to emulate it in terms of drama.
I mean take a look back to August when United dropped points at Craven Cottage and Goodison Park in incredible fashion. Nani'[s penalty miss at Craven Cottage has 'no title' written all over it---I mean the manager stressed at the time that when you have a last minute penalty to kill a league game, you have to score it.
Then leading 1-3 at Everton heading into the final few minutes and in the space of sixty seconds the game is 3-3; We've been Manchester United fans long enough to know that such lapses in concentration are not traits of aspiring league champions. At that point, you really started to worry for Manchester United because something just wasn't right.

We did however get off lightly with those dropped points because our main title rivals Chelsea got hit by some sort of 'bug' that downed them as far behind us as we could have imagined. It meant that we had to shrug off the title challenges of Man City and then Arsenal and given their relative inexperience about a title run-in, they duly faded such that by the time Chelsea recovered from their 'bug' we had our destiny in our hands with just a couple of games left.
The art of keeping the destiny of the league title in your hands going into the last three or four games of the season is what I believe has made Sir Alex the master of his trade. No wonder that people say that he could have won the league this season with any of the top four sides.

That this was the 19th league title means that the team which the media rubbished as Sir Alex's worst has established itself in United's history books as the record breaking team---and to think that it could soon add the title of European Champions to it makes you laugh at the irony.

Speaking of being European Champions, Manchester United have another almighty chance of adding another European Cup to their cabinet next week when they take on Barcelona at Wembley in the European Cup final. We went into the 2009 final against them as favourites but this time we head in as underdogs---possibly overwhelming underdogs as some people cannot fathom anything other than a Barca victory.

The good feeling about this final is that for starters we are underdogs so that takes if only the slightest pressure off. Secondly, it seems to be a back against the wall job and for all the years I have supported United, we seem to relish challenges that give us no chance; it's why we win games so late on way after the match reports have already been posted. This game has all the ingredients of a 'Manchester United shocker' written all over it. I also can't remember a time when Sir Alex has been beaten by the same challenge twice. I mean the manager has been beaten hands down by some of the challenges he has faced in his quarter century reign at United but he usually finds a solution to them.

This is not to out rightly state my confidence ahead of the final but rather to point out that the final is not as certain as people would have you believe.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

19 NOT OUT!





Yesterday, May 14 2011, will go down in Manchester United's illustrious record books as the day the club officially became the most successful club on English soil by securing a 19th league title and finally knocking Liverpool off their perch.

The 1-1 draw against Blackburn was just about the result both teams wanted so it's safe to say that nobody left Ewood Park yesterday with a gloomy face. It was nice seeing some Rovers fans staying on to watch the on-pitch celebrations of Manchester United players infront of the Away fans---I mean what's the point of leaving them there and going home and turning on the telly only to see the same pictures.

The game itself was a contest for the best part of 80 minutes until Wayne Rooney scored from the spot to put United level. The remaining six minutes would be played between the United defence and Paul Scholes (The possession stats make for interesting reading)
It would have been a procession for United if Tomas Kuszczak had not chosen that game to show why he hasn't made the grade at United. Thankfully for him though, Javier Hernandez's exploits upfront won us a penalty that Wayne Rooney duly dispatched to send the Away end into wild celebrations.

Machester United's season is full of so many sub-plots and anecdotes---largely because this year, there can be no argument of a 'one-man team' that the media has usually tagged successful United sides with. Thankfully we have a full summer to reflect on all that and to comprehensively build it all up for next season.
For now though, we ought to savour the fact that we have successfully met our season's prime goal. Of course we still have a Champions League final to look forward to so you'd think that the manager will get the boys down to work Monday morning and leave the celebrations for Many 30th.
I have promised myself that I won't 'demand much' from the team if the team beat Barcelona and win a fourth European Cup for the club. What a way that would be to end a season in which the team's obituary was written in August and then underwent several amendments before Wayne Rooney dispatched that penalty.

I could easily write a whole review today about yesterday but being one of those United fans for whom following the club and paying allegiance to it is close to a religion, maybe the tears that flowed down my eyes at the final whistle yesterday will suffice.
For those of us that eat, live and breathe United, it can only mean the world to us that our club is now the most successful in the country. It means the world to us that for another season, you'll visit the official website and be greeted with the headline tag; CHAM19NS. It means the world to us that Manchester United are the Champions of England Again.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

WHY BEATING CHELSEA WAS THAT EXTRA SPECIAL FOR UNITED---MUST READ!





Sir Alex Ferguson has never quite had a stable rival in his time in England. I mean you can argue that Liverpool and City remain our eternal rivals regardless whether they compete with us or not for silverware but the manager has had some good things to say about them----and we all know that when Sir Alex starts praising you, you're no longer deemed worthy competition.

Arsenal were his first big headache in his time at United so far considering that Newcastle and Blackburn were not as consistent as the Gunners. When Arsene Wenger took the 'Liverpool route' and lost interest in the title, Roman Abramovich's money came in and that gave Sir Alex some sort of new competition. I'm sure he didn't take them seriously until they defended the league in 2006--something that even Arsenal had failed to do. That forced him into another re-building process that saw us win the league in 2007 for the first time since 2003---the longest the league had been away from its traditional home since 1993.

The departure of Jose Mourinho and the constant change of coaches at the Stamford Bridge club has not prevented the Rent Boys from being such a pain in United's quest for silverware. That we have battled them for the title in each season since 2005 is testament to how much they have got on our nerves in the last few years. I mean when the Premier League announce the fixture calender every summer, you pick out the Liverpool dates and the City ones but its increasingly becoming impossible to ignore the date we play Chelsea as more often than not, the fixture has decided the destiny of the title. It should be recalled that we've had to do battle with them even on the European stage for honours--a point neither of our previous rivals had got us to.

However you thought that we had put them in their place when we on the league treble for the second time between 2007-2009. After ruining our bid to make history by winning it four times, Sir Alex found himself with another job of his hands---returning the trophy to its rightful cabinet.
Chelsea did beat us at every opportunity the had last season but there was a sense of injustice about the way the won their games against us. Perhaps that what made this season's victories against them all the more sweet.

I'll start from the 2009 Community Shield fixture that saw them beat us on penalties. Michael Ballack elbowed Evra in the move that led them to scoring a second goal. The referee did not see it---despite the fact that it was as blatant as it could possibly have been but that is not what you expect from your opponents in a sport based on fair play. Wayne Rooney restored parity to send the game to penalties but the fact that we lost the shootout did irk many fans.

Then came the first clash between the two clubs in the league at Stamford Bridge. With the game level and on the balance of play in our favour given that they didn't bother EVDS significantly, the Martin Atkinson awarded Chelsea a free kick that never was. Darren Fletcher had taken the ball from Ashely Cole but it was given. John Terry scored from Lampard's free-kick with a header but the goal was an illegitimate one on three counts: Firstly that it wasn't a free-kick, secondly because Wes Brown was clearly fouled in the area by Drogba who attempted to connect with the ball from (thirdly) an offside position. None of those incidents was spotted by the linesman or the ref so it was gutting that that goal turned out to be the winner.

Of course these decisions even themselves throughout the season because United too have benefited from the same so you hopped that in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford, we'd get something going our way. However it was not to be as for the third time in a fixture against Chelsea, the decision would go against us; Drogba's winning goal was scored from an offside position---a clear 2 metres away from our defence at the time the ball is played. Again, a poor decision by the ref would hand Chelsea the win. They went on to finish just a point above us despite beating us twice in the league. We were left to reflect on what might have been if just one of those decisions had gone our way.

Roll on to 2010/2011 season and as fate would have it, the season would also start with a Community Shield face-off between the two clubs. We hadn't done much of an investment in the summer (Chicharito, Bebe, Smalling)--at least compared to them but the sense of injustice, we hopped, would spur us on to overhaul them.A 3-1 win in the curtain raiser was therefore as sweet as you can imagine. This time there was no poor decision to save the day for them. I hopped that we had turned a corner on them.

I would later on in the season proper be proved wrong. Martin Atkinson---the same referee who took charge of the Stamford Bridge fiasco a the season before was picked to take charge of the game. We battered them in the second half and went infront courtesy of a Wayne Rooney cracker of goal. Then Atkinson failed to book any of Chelsea's players despite the tough tackling they employed whenever we were in possession. David Luiz in particular committed three yellow card offences in the span of half an hour. That the Brazilian then equalised at a time he should have been in the shower made it all the more gutting. But Atkinson's mission was not yet done; after waving away murderous challenges by David Luiz all match, he awarded Chelsea a penalty. Chris Smalling hardly touched Zirhkov but Atkinson couldn't have pointed to the spot any faster. Lampard scored from the spot and for the umpteenth time, Chelsea beat us because of a poor refereeing decision.

Sir Alex lost it. I mean I lost it too. He, spoke our minds when he said that he noted the pattern of results Chelsea had Stamford Bridge with Atkinson in charge--particularly the fact that they had benefited twice against us from the same official.The FA banned the manager for saying the truth---a total of five matches in the stands. Not that the ban affected us that much but it only served to worsen the sense of injustice we felt against Chelsea. It was bad enough that they were beating us but that they were doing it with the help of officials made it all the more painful.

Call it fate or whatever you like but the Champions League last eight draw paired us against Chelsea. I could hardly believe our luck. I mean surely this was our turn to get something over them---with our without help from the officials. The draw meant that we would play Chelsea three more times before the season would close but given that at the time we were so far ahead of them in the league, the Champions League ties would be the ones they'd feel the hurt we felt if could win them. Its synonymous to all that Roman Abramovich badly wants that European Cup at Stamford Bridge so you can imagine how excited I felt when we were presented the chance of trashing that European dream for a second time---en route to making a claim for our own.

The fact that we were now going to be under European officials rather the domestic officials gave me a sense on comfort given that you'd expect more objective refereeing. Going into the first leg in London, we hadn't won there since a 3-0 win in 2002. An away goal or a score draw was the best we ans were hopping for so you can imagine the feeling when we registered a win there. We would go on to win at home in the return leg as well and effectively end their European dream for another year. That was sweet. But for some reason, I wanted us to end our domestic woes against them too.

Call it fate or whatever you like but between March 1 and last Sunday, our league form was such that we didn't throw away so many points to lose our place in the league but also that Chelsea would get close to us to reduce a once 15 point gap to just three. That suddenly gave as much importance to the final fixture between the two clubs as we had anticipated t the start of the season. It was more like a Premier League finale--but for me, it was a chance to once and for all strike the upper cut against a side I had grown to hate even more than our other established rivals over the past two seasons---largely because we seemed to play against 12 men (something Wayne whispered at Stamford Bridge after a defeat there the season before) whenever we played them. Finally a chance to heal all the hurtful pain we had suffered against them for over a year and above all, a chance to reclaim our trophy and return it to its rightful Old Trafford home.

How fitting it was that it was David Luiz's blunder that gave Hernandez (a victim of his fouling at Stamford Bridge in March) the opportunity to put us in the lead in just 36 seconds. I've already blogged (in my review) that I nearly kicked the telly whilst celebrating. You can therefore imagine the smile on my face when Ancellotti started giving Luiz a telling off on pitch and warming up Alex after just five minutes. I mean you couldn't have written the script. Then Captain Vida made it 2-0 and given that he was sent off in the March 1 fiasco, his celebration told of a man whose revenge had been meted out in the sweetest of fashions.

By the time Howard Webb blew the final whistle on Sunday, even the usually calm and composed Sir Bobby Charlton was clapping off the final few seconds of the match. We had beaten Chelsea for the third time in the season. That once again the decisions went against us( Ivanovic should have been sent off and Lampard's handball should have merited us a penalty) but we still won and battered them throughout made it an even more sweeter victory----it made it extra special. For me, it was as big as a triumph of Good over Evil!

Monday, 9 May 2011

RE-LIVE THE GLORIOUS MOMENTS OF YESTERDAY



















































































































































































Old Trafford was yet again the place to be as the EPL season reached its grand finale as far as the title race was concerned. Manchester United produced a display for all to behold and the pictures taken from the ground will be fonldy remembered in United's history as they now stand for English League Title Number 19!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

UNITED BEAT CHELSEA TO PUT THE CHAMPAGNE ON ICE!












Make no mistake about it, United will struggle to bottle it from the position we're in now, so you can virtually say that FINALLY, after a long season, season of its own kind, with the most twists and turns I've in my lifetime (and I'm not exactly young), with the most unprecedented script todate-----Manchester United are English Champions again, and this time for a record breaking 19th title!

Mathematically we still need a point from either of the trip to Ewood Park or infront of our own fans on the final day of the season against Blackpool to officially claim the title of Champions but hey; you can be certain that after this win, Chelsea might as well get beaten next week to hand it to us regardless of our result. The psychological blow landed today was THAT BIG!

This was the most watched sporting entertainment of the weekend around the world but I doubt many had taken their seats in their living rooms at the time Park slid one through for Javier Hernandez to score the opener---and astonishingly, his 20th goal of the season for United in his debut campaign.
You can bet I nearly kicked the telly in celebration---I mean here we were, in the game of games, hearts in mouth even before the kick-off, but with the comfort of knowing that just a point would do but with just 36 seconds in the game, leading 1-0! Not even the most optimistic of fans would have predicted such a start.

In that first minute of the game, not only did we considerably destroy Chelsea's game plan but also dealt them a major psychological blow whose impact would last the entire first 45 minutes. So when captain Nemanja Vidic made it 2-0 with a trademark header, you knew that we had just given ourselves the cushion to see out whichever period of the match Chelsea would get back into it.

It was good to see Wayne Rooney give David Luiz a hair day after the injustice he suffered back in London in the reverse fixture. The Brazilian was all over the place so much so that his manager had his replacement warming up on the touchline as early as the fifth minute!

Alex would prove to be an able replacement a he did cut out many of our attacks in the second half as well as clear a certain Rooney goal off the line. Having said that, our strikers did squander a host of chances in that second period so much so that the manager reckons Wayne and Hernandez could have had six goals to their name by the 90th minute. Thankfully though the cushion Vidic gave us in the game has made sure that the press will ignore the fact that we should have had two penalties in the game plus the fact that Chelsea should have ended the game with 10 men considering Ivanovic made three yellow card offences.

Ryan Giggs and Park Ji Sung were the standout players today ad I think we now have a fairly clear picture of how United will line up at Wembley against Barcelona.

The joy and delight that greeted the final whistle was in many ways akin to the one we saw in 2008 when we made it to the Champions League Final after seeing off Barca. Old Trafford was really rocking today, and the manager's bow to the Stretford End at the Final Whistle was testament to that.

We now have a well deserved week of rest head of the lunchtime kickoff at Blackpool next Saturday on a day we could win the League. The players deserve a couple of days off given that its the first time in quite a while that we have a full 6 days to prepare for a game. Well done!

After that it should be back to business; but for now every fan deserves a glass of wine.

Onwards and Upwards!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

GALLERY; UNITED PLAYERS ENJOY A LUNCH OUT AFTER SECURING A PLACE AT WEMBLEY 2011







MANCHESTER UNITED REACH WEMBLEY 2011!



For all their haters and critics this season, this Manchester United team has recorded a remarkable achievement. Coming from the disappointment of missing out on the final in Madrid because of a technicality last year, they've responded in typical Manchester United style---bouncing back to dispose of Valencia (in the group stages), Marseille, Chelsea and Shalckle 04 to reach the UEFA Champions League final for the third time in four years. It could easily have been four in four but we'll take three---not least because no club in Europe can match that level of consistent success in Europe.

After accounting for the exits of Valencia and holders Inter Milan in the knock-out rounds, the media was all about how the Germans could prove to be a banana ski for us. Granted, they do play attacking football--which is credit to them, but I thought in praising the Germans so much, many forgot that the lesson United learnt in the San Siro in 2007 will forever be a part of this group of players in Europe. We are statistically the most difficult team to beat in European competition, and perhaps what scares opponents is that we are better away from home than at home---which is i harp contrast to our league form. That we have let in just four goals throughout the tournament going into the final is one of the reasons as to why I have certain inbred confidence about this team going into a final with Barcelona who will be everybody's favourites. However our final opponents is a topic for another day.

Right now, we must revel in the fact that we have another opportunity to further honour the Busby Babes and the 1968 European Cup winning team by winning the trophy from the scene of our first triumph. Many people tend to forget that United's history is largely built around European competition. It therefore means that success in the Champions League is only right and fitting for a club who boast the biggest fan base in World football.

Sir Alex shocked just about every fan with his team selection and he admitted that he lost sleep about how his second string would perform. It's good to see that the likes of Evans, Smalling, Gibson and Rafael are being trusted by the manager to see out a Champions League semifinal. The experience will do them good. They also managed to help the team register an even bigger victory margin than in the away leg. A total 6-1 aggregate against the Germans is a Champions League record for a semifinal which the club will add to its stock of records.
We were made to ask ourselves why we were worried by the team news as the players seemed to enjoy themselves more than anything. I mean when the likes of Anderson are chasing hat tricks by the 70th minute then you know United are having fun on pitch. Gibson got another Champions League goal for himself with a trademark shot and maybe Mr. Pep Guardiola will at least have been pleased to see one of the sure starters in the final in Antonio Valencia---otherwise one can argue that his trip was more of a formality than business.

For Manchester United, there's never enough time to mull over victory or defeat. The league still has to be won and we have an opportunity on Sunday to do that. We need to beat Chelsea on Sunday if not for the mere fact that it will be sweet to do to them what they did to us exactly a year ago.

Onwards and Upwards!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

UNITED COME AWAY FROM THE EMIRATES EMPTY HANDED BUT STILL IN CHARGE.



Over the last few seasons, we've got the better of City and so it was almost certainly that a very important FA Cup semifinal would go their way---and so it did. It's how sometimes things work. Likewise Le Arse have been on the receiving end against us for a while now so I must say I had the gut feeling that they were due a win against us. I prayed that that win would wait till next season but in vain because Arsenal, in the end, got the win.

So it leaves the title race in the most exciting position right now---at least as far as the neutrals and media are concerned. It has also made next week' clash between United and Chelsea at OT virtually the title decider.

This is where as fans and as a club we have to put things into perspective. For starters, we have been in such situations time and time again so there shouldn't be any nerves or talk of cracking because for all intents and purposes, we are still in charge of the destiny of the title. Contrast this position to the one we were in last season. We were in Chelsea's position now heading into that crucial game at OT. It was never really about what we did but what they did. They'll be desperate to get all three points next week so as to put themselves level with us at the top so we should exploit that next Sunday. I also feel that by the time this fixture comes around, they'll be no other midweek commitments (besides Neville's testimonial on 24 May) so if we could see out the 90 minutes against Schalke on Wednesday with minimum energy used, we could leave ourselves fresh enough for one last hurrah in the league on our own pitch---a ground we've won all but one of our games this season---with the ultimate prize of sealing that 19th title.

The frustration at not coming away from the Emirate with at least a point will lead many to forget that back in August, after signing Bebe, Smalling and Hernandez, we would all have taken the position that we find ourselves in. We've played our part in keeping the title race candle burning for a while now but I think its time we blow it out and start thinking of how we are going to win the Champions League final.

Of course the result means that the title cannot be won until the final day of the season but beating Chelsea would restore that six point gap that we could use in the last two games against Blackburn and Blackpool.
At the moment, Chelsea would gladly swap positions with us. So its up to the lads to see out the '90 on Wednesday and put an end to proceedings in the league next Sunday.

Onwards and Upwards!