3 Apr 2012

One Hand On The Trophy

The red side of Manchester has one hand firmly gripped on the Premier League trophy, after a hard fought win against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood park, put the current English champions five points ahead of rivals Manchester City in the race for the title.

Its a scenario that seemed very unlikely a month ago when City were five points ahead of United. In typical fashion, Sir Alex's men have found another gear in their pursuit of the league title in the second half of the season, something that they have almost become accustomed too over the years.

United's ability to grind out results when not playing particularly well, and being able to string an impressive number of wins in a row together, shows that experience in a title run in is unfortunately for Manchester City, something that money cannot buy.

In January the return of Paul Scholes prompted rival supporters to poke fun at United and taunt them about bringing back a player who was supposedly past it. They claimed United had no money to bring in a midfielder and that the move had a hint of desperation about it. Scholes has been instrumental in Uniteds current run of form, his calming effect in the middle of the park, and his experience have seen the reds stamp their authority in midfield.

Its been a strange season so far, without being disrespectful to the current crop of players, I think this is not the strongest squad or starting eleven that Sir Alex has had at his disposal in his time at Old Trafford. It's a team critics believe have not even hit top gear and have not performed particularly impressively. This is a team with no ego's and apart from Wayne Rooney, no real superstars. Its a team that functions and knows how to get results when it matters, a team who play for each other and are willing to fight whenever the going gets tough.

It would be a little premature to suggest that the title race is over, but a win against QPR on Sunday at Old Trafford, could trigger bookmakers to start paying out on punters who put money on United retaining the trophy. A win would put United eight points ahead in the early kick off, leaving City with a tricky looking fixture at the Emirates against Arsenal, who are still fighting to wrap up a Champions League spot.

Its all "ifs" and "buts", but one thing is for sure, Antonio Valencia's exquisite finish against Blackburn with ten minutes of the match remaining, could be looked back on at the end of the season as the goal that basically clinched a record 20th League title.