Manchester United have made history by securing a record 19th English League title. They’ve had their critics all throughout the season but come full time at Ewood Park, despite the encounter being nervy, it was clear that there was only one team deserved the 2010/11 Premier League title.
Many will point and say that United didn’t leave the competition trailing in their wake, but the bottom line is and always will be that throughout the course of the season, Manchester United have been the best team in the Premier League, unquestionably more deserving of the title than any of their rivals. Looking back, there have been several key factors that have led to this side securing their record 19th English League title and had supporters filling the air with chants of “are you watching, Merseyside?”
Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex showed throughout the entire season that he still has the hunger, desire and drive to continue his winning ways. A classic ‘Fergie’ season that saw him jumping up and down to the joyous sight of a goal, chewing his gum vigorously when United needlessly conceded, to the touchline ‘discussions’ with the fourth official. There was even a five game touchline ban thrown into the mix, all of which had little effect on United as they slowly but surely stumbled towards the finish line. It seems as though Ferguson accepted the challenge of taking the best raw materials he had at his disposal and turning them into Premiership winners, and it’s a challenge he most definitely conquered. Sir Alex has been rejuvenated by the task at hand, and is always looking to refresh the squad, without losing sight of what’s engraved into the Manchester United culture, winning.
The Fortress: Old Trafford
They never quite got going on the road, but at Old Trafford this season United were untouchable. Undefeated, and West Bromwich Albion the only team to take anything away from Old Trafford highlights the strength of United at home. With 45 goals scored and only 10 conceded (with one game remaining of course), they hold the best home record all season in the Premier League. Goals have come in the first minute and winners have come with the last kick of the football, but regardless as to whether Javier Hernandez pops up in the 84th minute to seal the points in a typical cliffhanger finish at the Stretford End, or whether he scampers through on goal and slots the ball past an outstretched goalkeeper in the first minute, they all count.
Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar
What a season it has been for the two veterans of the side. Ryan Giggs seemingly never runs out of steam and Edwin van der Sar has been inspired in goals all season.
Revitalized by his role in the heart of the United midfield, and by all means still able to take the ball past his man on the left side of the attacking third, Giggs was a driving force in United’s title charge all season, coming up with sublime skill and composure on the big stage. Four assists in three games in the recent matches against Chelsea, and even a cameo appearance at left back highlighted the 37 year old’s technique and continued versatility, and he maintained his record of scoring at least one goal in each of his past 19 campaigns.
Similarly, Edwin van der Sar is a fine example of a goalkeeper playing at the top of his game well into the twilight years of his career. 40 years old, and the epitome of calm and control in the United goalmouth. Top concentration and focus, a great range of excellent distribution and still boasting reflexes as sharp as a razor. He is burdened with the difficult task of keeping the goals out of the net, and the way he goes about his business makes it look like a stroll in the park. Manchester United need to find a suitable replacement for the irreplaceable van der Sar in the off season or risk seeing elementary mistakes made by the likes of Tomasz Kuszczak turn into costly goals and dropped points next season.
The Resurgence of Wayne Rooney
The Wayne Rooney transfer saga (or drama?) that emerged mid way through the season was an unwanted distraction to Manchester United’s bid to regain the title from the grasp of Chelsea. The saga however, quickly turned into a new five year contract and divided opinion about Rooney, who had been misfiring since his ankle injury in last seasons Champions League. Come the turn of the year, Rooney set about changing his ways on and off the field and set about winning back the trust of the United faithful. A few matches and goals later, Rooney had found form, the highlight of his resurgence coming against West Ham as he hit the first, second and the match winner, completing his hat-trick in a wonderful second half display, and propelling United to a 3-2 victory when at half time and 2-0 down the game looked dead and buried.
It may not have been a full season to remember for Wayne Rooney, although his ability to pick himself up and put in the performances in the second half of the campaign, particularly when it mattered, against top opposition and in big games, further emphasise his importance to United’s title triumph.
What more needs to be said about this young player from Mexico? What a fantastic first full season he has had in England and in Europe. Many supporters could not have imagined the sort of impact ‘Little Pea’ was to have on the 2010/11 campaign. Was it to be a season of learning, coming to terms with his new surroundings, a new culture and a new way of football? Most definitely not.
Time and time again Hernandez proved this season that he is a top player. The start of the season saw him warming the bench and coming on as a substitute when United needed a goal, however impressive performances and crunch goals saw him move up the order and become a first team regular, demoting Dimitar Berbatov to the bench for the most part of the season. He has since formed a superb partnership with Wayne Rooney and played a vital role in the title bid, scoring important goals at important times. By far the signing of the season, as I’ve written previously.
All in all…
Despite all the factors that led to United claiming the 2010/11 English Premier League title, the bottom line is that they were simply better than all of their rivals. They may not have brushed teams aside comprehensively however even when they weren’t playing immaculate football, they managed to grind out a very good win. Vintage or not, this was United’s season.