Date:Saturday March 31 2007
United are still six points clear at the top of the table after they came from behind to beat Blackburn and Chelsea defeated Watford with another woeful display.
What a day it was. Brilliant sunshine, perfect weather conditions - it was a joy just to go outside. Of course, enjoying a delightful spring afternoon wasn't United fans' main priority as the Reds prepared to host Blackburn.
Mark Hughes' men inflicted our only home defeat last season so it was understandable that we were more than worried when Derbyshire put them ahead one minute after Vidic was stretchered off with a shoulder injury that's likely to keep him out of action for 4-5 weeks. Our key players remained injury-free - what a load of rubbish, with Gary and Vida both out...
The players' body-language told us everything about how they felt: frustrated and impatient. Hughes had his team organised obscenely well, quite an achievement from an ex-striker whose manager never thought of him as someone who would go into management. He turned out to be a competent manager and there was real danger his abilities might contribute to the disintegration of our title bid.
But I think he committed a mistake. I'm not sure he ordered his players to sit back and protect their lead at all costs but that's what they tried to do. It's possible that United's greater determination after a rousing team-talk by Fergie was simply too much for them but it's sure that their midfield fell apart, and they were pinned back into their own half for the entire second period.
A neutral would have said that it's almost impossible to withstand such heavy pressure but there very few neutrals within Old Trafford and the fans unease was noticeable as the Reds kept on missing chances. Almost everyone had a scoring chance but Brad Friedel was brilliant (I seriously start to believe that his good career was due to the fact he always gives great displays against us) and our players were wasteful and unlucky.
Rio Ferdinand ventured forward very often as he had nothing to do at the back. United dominated the game but needed a moment of inspiration from the returning Paul Scholes to break down their opponents. From that moment on, Blackburn threatened to fall apart. They were absolutely overrun as the Reds surged forward in search of a winner and, after missing unmisseable chances, it arrived, with Michael Carrick turning home the umpteenth good pass into the box.
It was really an exhibition game after that. Blackburn were powerless to avoid defeat and United scored another two with ease, thus completing a memorable rout. Four different scorers, with Giggs, Ronaldo, Park and Scholes all playing brilliantly. This United side have an impressive teamwork and team spirit and you never know who is the greatest danger. Simply, you can't hold everyone in bay, one of our matchwinners would deliver, no matter how hard our opponents try to stop us.
I will remember this game for a long time - there are very few football matches of this type: your team is looking to be in trouble for the biggest part of the game than they go mad and destroy the opposition who are suddenly looking hopeless.
By the way, hopeless. Chelsea once again helped us to prove that we are the best team in the country right now. Our magnificent second half was followed by a ridiculously poor performance by the Pensioners at the home of mighty Watford. A winning goal in the 92th minute after a terrible display? Yes, of course. Am I surprised? No, of course not.
Date:Saturday March 31 2007
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|2. Man Utd||13||8||3||2||+10||27|
|3. Man City||13||8||2||3||+14||26|
|6. West Ham||13||6||3||4||+4||21|
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