Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday May 12 2008
I`ll post the Sunderland match report later, but first, duties need to be performed. With football, as in life, some duties are not always pleasant or palatable, but you are obligated to do them. I`ve been very much bought up with this football club and I have always liked to think that, as a club and as a set of supporters, while we can moan with the best of them, that we have always had a generous spirit.
So here goes, congratulations to Manchester United. The best team always wins the championship and no dispute, and they have been the best and most consistent side this season. In Cristiano Ronaldo, they have a true talisman and one of planet Earth`s best footballers, last summer I said that Ronaldo is to United what Thierry Henry was to us circa 2001-2005, I see little reason to renege on that recourse. The back four of Brown, Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra has been practically impenetrable. It is of course with no little regret that our own challenge fell away so swiftly in the spring. As far as our starting eleven is concerned, I think we match United and possibly outstrip them. However, United`s squad is superior. What I think United have that we have lacked are experienced players who are familiar with the ins and outs of a title race. Whereas we displayed a lack of experience when it mattered, with Gallas being the sole bastion of established experience, we didn`t have the know how to see the league out. What United have is players such as Scholes, Giggs and van der Sar who add a blend of knowledge to a set of younger charges such as Rooney and Anderson. They also have the likes of Ji Sung Park and John O`Shea who, whilst unspectacular, can plug gaps. My own view is that in the summer, our squad doesn`t so many Wayne Rooney`s as it does a couple of John O`Shea`s. If there is a player who I feel embodies United`s current side it`s Carlos Tevez, an equal measure of grit and flair. I have to grudgingly say that Chelsea`s maintained challenge after a tumultuous start to the campaign surprised me, they showed some real guts but United were worthy winners.
On a slightly happier note I would also like to express congratulations to Fulham on their miraculous escape. My reasons for wanting them to survive so badly is a sound and sapient one. Craven Cottage has the best pubs. Commiserations to Reading and to Birmingham City. I thought Birmingham conducted themselves poorly in the wake of the Eduardo incident, nevertheless, I would much rather Bolton had gone! I am a great admirer of Steve Coppell, I had the fortune of being in a series of training sessions run by him when I was nine during one of his tenures at Crystal Palace and the man has impressed me ever since. I`m a great admirer of the way Reading came up and were not intimidated and played the game in the right way, it`s a shame they`ve come up short this year, but I`m sure Coppell can bring them back up. Well done also to Everton for securing UEFA Cup football again, Everton are the benchmark for clubs chasing the top four rainbow; an excellent manager who has received the backing of his board through good times and bad and a stable playing squad. Shiniwatra and Ashley take note. And finally, congratulations to Tottenham, who managed to finish top of the bottom half of the table. Alright, so I can`t be generous and conciliatory all the time.LD.
Date:Monday May 12 2008
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