Manchester United’s Ten keys to title success
After a dramatic final day of the 2007/08 season, ManUtd.com puts forward ten reasons why United are ten-time Premier League champions…
Home Rule: Sir Alex Ferguson’s wish in recent seasons was to re-establish Old Trafford as a fortress. Safe to say, it’s mission accomplished. Aside from the opening day bore draw against Reading and February’s defeat to Manchester City, United have beaten all comers to M16, winning 17 out of 19 home matches.
Leaving It Late: Opposing teams expect to be on the rack in the closing stages, and stats show United are deadliest in the final 15 minutes of games. Most tellingly in this season were dramatic strikes from Carlos Tevez – a tap-in at Tottenham and a priceless header at Blackburn.
That Boy Ronaldo: While the Ronny is ever-eager to point out that it’s not a one-man show, United fans have been privileged to watch a genius at work. Almost always at his unplayable best, Ronaldo has plundered goal after goal, overtaking records in the same way he plays – left, right and centre.
Defence: For all the plaudits lavished upon the Reds’ star-studded attack, the platform for success has been built on a miserly defensive record. Despite being without skipper Gary Neville all season, United’s backline registered 20 domestic clean sheets – the finest defensive record in the Premier League.
Big Game Hunters: Until April’s defeat at Chelsea, United’s record against the other members of the ‘Big Four’ – Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – was virtually unblemished. Ever able to raise themselves for the big games, United beat Liverpool twice, took four points off Arsenal and beat Chelsea at Old Trafford, taking 13 points from a possible 18.
New Boys: Thenear-instant assimilation of summer arrivals Anderson, Nani, Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez has been key to United’s title triumph. The young Portuguese-based duo proved themselves as players for now, not just the future, while the more experienced Hargreaves and Tevez were integral to United’s late-season surge.
Squad Depth: Last season’s bid for a second Treble was left in tatters by injuries. Eager to avoid a repeat, Sir Alex made new signings and brought back a host of youngsters to bolster his squad. The move worked wonders, with every squad member contributing when injuries have hit – remember Ben Foster’s heroics at Pride Park?
Experience: For all United’s free-spirited youthfulness, the calmness of some sage old heads has been crucial. Off the field, Sir Alex and his coaching staff have been there, done it enough times to keep everybody grounded, while experienced players like Ferdinand, van der Sar, Scholes and Giggs brought vital know-how at fraught times.
Bouncing Back: The mark of champions is to respond positively to setbacks – exactly what United did all season. Every time questions were posed by a domestic defeat – Manchester City (twice), Bolton, West Ham, Chelsea – the Reds responded with a victory.
Attack, Attack, Attack: Much was made of the contrast in the title chasers’ styles. Pragmatic, robotic Chelsea doing battle with swashbuckling, easy-on-the-eye United for the grand prize. In the end, goal difference was the difference between the two, proving that merging substance and style is a winning combination.
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