Picture courtesy of manutd.com
Oh Survival Sunday! Waking up this morning, so many people were all excited/nervous/anticipating today. The final day of the English Premier League promised a lot and with all outcomes, I think it’s safe to say it delivered.
It was a huge day for teams on the bottom looking at regulation. But on the opposite end of the top, the craziness of the title race had captivated a lot of attention. The EPL title would go to Manchester at the end of today, the question was, however, which side? Would it be blue or red?
For their last match of the season, Manchester United traveled to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland. Looks like an easy game on paper right? Well, I know I didn’t think Sunderland would go quietly and let United walk all over them. It is the last game of the season after all. Each team was going to give their all to fight for their spot.
In the first half, Manchester looked good and settled. Passing was good and pressure even better. Sunderland’s defense stayed strong in the first 20 minutes or so, but United’s midfield and strikers slowly began to pick away. Sure enough, holes began to appear in the Sunderland defense and the Red Devils took advantage.
It’s no real surprise it was Wayne Rooney who would make a cheeky little header into a small space left open by Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet. It was a nice little goal too, as Roon headed it in off a wicked bouncing pass.
It was much of the same through the next 25 minutes – pressure on the back line from Rooney, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs. When the whistle blew for the half, United should have been up 3-0, with the hattrick going to Rooney. But it was only 1-0, a little nerve wracking I have to say.
The second half started out all Sunderland. Whether the fear of regulation or just of losing period stirred them, Sunderland came out pushing hard for a goal and almost had one several times. With the crowd letting the teams know what was going on in Manchester between City and Queens Park Rangers, both teams pressed on.
As the clock wound down, United picked back up their pressure. Slowly but surely, they started to crack open the Sunderland back line all over again. But that second goal was just as elusive. The minutes ticked by, but United held on and the final whistle blew with United still on top, 1-0.
About 45 seconds later, however, the stadium let the teams know City had scored in stoppage time and won the game, and the title.
You have to give props to the Red Devils though. They had to have known what was going on through the game, and yet they kept fighting until the end. They could very well have bowed out and let City just have the title, but they couldn’t just do that, could they?
However, I have to point out where United’s fault was this season – the midfield. They had to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement. That says a lot. What I hope United draw from this is they need to firm up their midfield. Sir Alex Ferguson needs to spend a little money, bring in a midfielder that can be the anchor of the team, like Scholes does.
United also need Vidic back. While the back line wasn’t completely horrid this season, there were too many games where United dropped needed points by allowing teams to come back and tie or even defeat them. Vidic is a beast in the center for United and greatly missed.
And Sir Alex needs to keep Valenica, Young and Jones starting. Those three have earned their places this season and have speed and talent needed. SAF is known for working hard on molding young players into great stars. It’s time he started using them more. Just as Scholesy is going to be leaving again, Ryan Giggs will be leaving soon, and that’s just the start. United definitely need to capitalize on that young talent waiting on the bench.
In the end, the season is over and it’s time to think about the next one. United have the summer to mull over a lot of things, and come back to remind their “noisy neighbors” United don’t go quietly into the night.
Thanks for sticking with Aerys Soccer through the English Premier League season! We’ll keep you updated on trades, news and more through the summer and the start of the 2012-13 season in August!