Obviously the celebrations would have been even more wild if they had managed to beat Barcelona, but the fact they didn’t had little effect. And indeed, why should it? Barcelona have the best player in the world and he is surrounded by two forwards and three midfield players who are the current European and World Champions. Being beaten by them is no disgrace and whilst disappointed, United will certainly not be beating themselves up about it.
So putting that game to one side, United could look back on an historic season where they finally beat Liverpool’s record of eighteen titles and officially became England’s most successful side ever. They could look back at a season where they dropped just two points at home and won the Premier League by nine points. They reached their third Champions League final in four years and did so without ever reaching the heights that they know they can do.
The season saw the emergence of players like Rafael, Fabio and Chris Smalling. It saw Valencia come back from a horror injury with a vengeance and Nani start to fulfil some of his promise. It also saw Hernandez and Rooney form a partnership that delivered much and promises even more. In other words, despite the emergence of Manchester City and the challenge of the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal and possibly Liverpool, United will still be there or there abouts next season.
Sir Alex is starting yet another rebuilding process and is putting together another new team. He has lost Edwin van der Sar and it looks as though Paul Scholes may also be on a downward slope. Ryan Giggs has been magnificent but he started to look his age in the game against Barcelona. It is time for the next Manchester United team to step up.
Fergie has done this many times over the years and I have little doubt that he will do it again.
As the parade took place yesterday it was noticeable that out of contract players such as Michael Owen and Paul Scholes were there celebrating with the others as was top scorer Dimitar Berbatov, who had been completely left out of proceedings at Wembley on Saturday. That is the strength of Fergie’s Manchester United. They are a team and have a never say die attitude and team spirit and work ethic that you simply can’t buy.
The leader of Manchester city council summed up the feelings of the fans when he said,
“Manchester United winning their 19th top flight title is a remarkable and historic achievement.”
The fans themselves would not let Saturday’s defeat stop them from celebrating in the rain.
“It’s great to see the players enjoying themselves. They’ve done us proud this season.”
“I’m not disappointed at all. It’s not ‘only’ one trophy. City and Liverpool can say what they want, we are the best in Britain and we’ll have another crack at Barcelona next season. United have done Manchester proud.”
That was the overriding feeling that I got from watching the parade. The players, management and fans all shared a common pride in being part of Manchester United.
I am not a Manchester United fan but I have the utmost respect for what they have achieved and what they have got. The challenge for everyone else in English football is to match them, overtake them and knock Fergie ‘off his perch’. I won’t be holding my breath!