The day every United fan has been waiting for. The day we lay on hands on number 19. A momentous day. Departing hero Edwin Van Der Sar was presented with a memento before the game by Fergie. It was an emotional moment for the fans as well as EVDS. He’s been absolutely fantastic and thoroughly deserves the LEGEND tag.
There was a lot of speculation about whether or not an understrength would play today. But Fergie put all the conjecture to bed with a strong lineup that included Vidic, Scholes, Anderson, Fletcher, Berbatov, Park, Nani and Evra. Blackpool got off to a bright start with Charlie’s Adams pull back from the byline to an open Keith Southern was scuffed. United immediately sounded a warning with a well hit volley from Rafael which went straight down the keeper’s throat. United started dominating possession but Blackpool looked dangerous on the break with Charlie Adam crossing and Taylor-Fletchers almost scoring. Next it was Berba’s turn to miss a chance. He ran onto Fletcher’s pass over the defence and turned his defender with the skill we’ve come to expect only to hit a tame shot straight into Gilks’ hands.
The Tangerines were now playing their usual brand of attacking football. The breakthrough came in the 21st minute with Berbatov controlling a long ball before playing Park in. Defender Evatt got himself between Park and the ball but a moment of indecision cost him and allowed Park to knick in and lob the keeper for the first goal. Blackpool were playing well and Charlie Adam did his impression of the puppet-master again. In the 40th minute, from a suspect free kick, Adam deservedly got a goal with a splendid strike which went in off the post. Blackpool were showing admirable mental strength to claw back and even dominate possession for a while. Though it must be said that it looked like the United players lacked the motivation to close the opposition down which was only expected as the league was already won.
The second half started with another Adam free kick which left Van Der Sar’s palms stinging. Blackpool were now dominating and in the 56th minute, Vaughan found James Puncheon on the right and received the ball back on the overlap to feed Taylor-Fletcher. Fletcher applied the finishing touches with a delightful flick that went into the corner giving Van Der Sar no chance whatsoever. It was shocking that United were losing to Blackpool at home but then knowing United we always claw back. Always.Blackpool fans were now in a jubilant mood and this premature celebrations were exposed when Park passed the ball into the box for Anderson to curl a superb effort past Gilks. By now United were in a murderous mood. Berba almost got his goal when he got his head to an Evra cross only to see his shot stopped by an amazing save from Gilks. The loose ball was then fed to Scholes who unleased a monster of a shot only to see it blocked by the big frame of Evatt.
Smalling who had come on for Rafael at half time broke free in the 73rd minute and drove in a low cross which was inexplicably turned into his own net by Evatt. It was extremely sad to watch as he realized he may have put paid to Blackpool’s hopes of staying up in the Premier League. Evatt, driven by the desire to right his wrongs, drove forward and almost knicked a goal but Van Der Sar was equal to the task and saved the effort.
In the 81st minute, Michael Owen hit the final nail in Blackpool’s coffin when he finished past Gilks after a perfectly weighted through ball from Anderson. Ian Holloway’s expressions on the sidelines said it all. The dream run was over. The disappointment did not stop Blackpool from creating another chance for Ormerod who put his effort wide, epitomizing the kind of day Blackpool had had. In stoppage time Berba had another ‘Golden’ chance to grab the top scorer award for himself when he hit his shot way over the bar with only the keeper to beat. Could this be his last game for United? Only time will tell.
When the final whistle blew, the scenes at Old Trafford could have been used to define the term contrast. On on hand Blackpool had been relegated to the championship while on the other United were champions. Again. One couldn’t help but feel for Blackpool. That aside, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. Van Der Sar gave a small speech to mark his final game at Old Trafford and called Manchester United the biggest club in the world, which drew a huge cheer from the crowd.
The trophy presentation was a blast with the players clearly enjoying the triumph. One by one the players, the support staff came on to receive their medal. The biggest cheers were reserved for EVDS, Fergie, Giggsy and Scholesy. As Vidic collected the trophy and raised it to the sky, chants of ’championes’ filled the sky.
The Champions League trophy would round the season off perfectly. Though we start as clear underdogs against Barca, we have a good chance with the quality of players at our disposal. We are going to Wemberley!