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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mission Accomplished ! 19 League Titles...

Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester United 1. The result ensured this year’s League title to Manchester United. But, the final score at Ewood Park did not matter to Sir Alex Ferguson. What mattered to him was Manchester United 19 Liverpool 18 ! Finally, Alex Ferguson has accomplished in his long term target of throwing Liverpool off their perch. Now Manchester United has set the target for other teams to pursue.
When United signed the dynamic Scot from Aberdeen to replace their below par Manager Ron Atkinson in 1986, nobody in Manchester assumed he was going to rewrite the football history in favor of Greater Manchester by challenging the colossal in the League and Europe, Liverpool FC. In fact, when Alex Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford, the ‘mattered’ score line was 16-7 in favor of Anfield. Liverpool went on to win two more titles under Ferguson’s compatriot Kenny Dalglish, who is now at Anfield hot seat for a second spell. If you quote Alan Hansen, the Liverpool legend and now a Football pundit, “When Liverpool beat Queens Park Rangers to lift our 18th League Championship in 1990, nobody mentioned Manchester United.” That was the reality two decades ago; Liverpool had 18 League titles against Manchester United’s 7.
The hardest League title, they say the first title can be the hardest one, under Alex Ferguson came in 1992. Surprisingly, the renaming of the domestic league to Premier League occurred the same year. The launching of Premier League signaling the dominance of Red Devils ! The squad contained an 18 year old left winger who scored in all Premier League seasons till today and still forms the vital part of Manchester United which won the 19th title. Ryan Giggs, the Welsh Wizard.
United triumphed next season also followed by a remarkable achievement in 1995-96 season. That was the Golden Generation of United coming through the ranks of youth system. The 3rd League title under Alex Ferguson witnessed the performances of new generation and contained the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Neville brothers. Ferguson believed the youngsters and they returned the favor to their Master by bestowing the greatest ever season in United’s history, in 1999. The Treble not only offered the 5th League title to Alex Ferguson; but, his first European success at Manchester. The ‘mattered’ score line after the Treble was 18- 12 in favor of Liverpool. Also, Liverpool had 4 European Cups to United’s 2 triumphs.
By the time Alex Ferguson masterminded the Double by conquering League title and European elite in 2007-08, he had amended the scores to 18-17, still in favor of Liverpool. In the European front, Liverpool also amended their part through ‘miracle of Istanbul’ and score was 5-3 in favor of Liverpool. In both League and Europe, United overpowered Chelsea and nobody will forget the way John Terry slipped to present the Champions League to Red Devils in a rainy pitch at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
The following time of the year witnessed Alex Ferguson equaling 18 titles of Liverpool. None other than Liverpool came as runners up in the League, one of the atypical occasion where Liverpool played like real champions under Rafa Benitez. But, even the commanding displays against other three teams in the so called ‘Top Four’, which doesn’t exist as on today with Liverpool no longer a part of it, was not enough to stop United from clinching their 18th, and Alex Ferguson’s 11th League title.
2010-11 season. History rewritten. Much coveted dream accomplished. Liverpool is no longer the most successful team domestically. Manchester United seized that honor with 19 League titles. Sir Alex Ferguson, the longest serving Manchester United Manager becomes the most successful Manager of all time. 12 Premier League titles in 19 seasons. Precisely, 12 League titles in 25 seasons at Manchester. There is an opportunity to make an amendment to European score too. A victory at Wembley against Barcelona FC on 28th May will make the score 5-4, still in favor of Merseysiders.
Kenny Dalglish with Blackburn, Arsène Wenger with Arsenal, José Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti with Chelsea are the only Managers to win Premier League other than Alex Ferguson. Only Arsène Wenger is persisted to provide a long term rivalry to Ferguson with Dalglish deciding to take over as Director of football at Blackburn Rovers immediately after winning the Premier League, José Mourinho winning the Premier League twice in three attempts but sacked by Chelsea, and Ancelotti still unsure about his future after ending the current season trophy less with Chelsea. For Ferguson’s point of view, he would cherish to renew the rivalry with Kenny Dalglish who signed a permanent three-year contract at Anfield last week. That would take us back to the days when the two Scots battled for dominance in English club football and most interestingly the ‘mattered’ score is between them with nobody else in the visible sight.
Past : Liverpool.
Present : Manchester United.
Future : Up for grab.
The above says the whole story in a nutshell. With most of the Premier league teams going to summer transfer market, the future looks exciting. Chelsea will enter the market for revamping their ageing squad with or without Ancelotti in charge. Arsenal looks to bolster their squad despite the fear of losing Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri. Rejuvenated Liverpool under Dalglish will get around 50 million transfer kitty to lavish upon young prospects. ‘Noisy neighbors’ having qualified for Champions League will now attract celebrated players with money never a matter to them.
As for Manchester United, they need to replace four or five players in the near future. Edwin van der Sar needs immediate replacement as he had announced his retirement from football. Giggs and Scholes not far away from calling time to their illustrious careers at Old Trafford. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić are not too far away from deteriorating their majestic time. Replacements for the established ones like Giggs, Scholes and Ferdinand will present an intimidating task to Alex Ferguson. But again, who else could do the job better than Sir Alex Ferguson who successfully dealt with the departures of Éric Cantona, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
One day, when Alex Ferguson announces his retirement from Manchester United’s manager post, United fans will nervously look forward to their future. May be from that day onwards, other Premier league clubs will swoop for grabbing up the future. Till that time, either pursue the records set by Manchester United or face them with sheer determination and vision exemplified by that legend; Sir Alex Ferguson.

15th May, 2011
The day after Manchester United clinched 19th League title

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