Monday, 9 May 2011

Take a bow: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's gamble pays off

ALMOST THERE: Sir Alex Ferguson after full time against Chelsea ALMOST THERE: Sir Alex Ferguson after full time against Chelsea
Manchester United's record 19th title was effectively won when Sir Alex Ferguson handed in his team sheet for the Champions LEague semi-final against Schalke last Wednesday.

The champions elect have a trip to Blackburn Rovers next Saturday and a final-day Old Trafford clash with Blackpool to come up with the point they need to confirm them as 2010-11 title winners.

And the Reds boss believes they as good as got themselves over the line against Chelsea thanks to his gamble of playing his shadow squad against the Germans last week in the semi-final second leg that booked United a Wembley date against Barcelona.

“I think the team selection in midweek won us the title. If we win the title that was it,” said Sir Alex who is on the verge of his 12th league crown.

“It was a brave decision to play a different team on Wednesday but it gave the team energy to really go for it against Chelsea.

“They really put some work in today. They were fantastic. So I am pleased at that decision.”

When Ferguson moved into the Old Trafford manager's chair in 1986 United had just seven league titles to the club's name.

The 26-year wait for a league was ended in 1993 and the Reds began to slowly make ground on Liverpool's total of 18 successes.

The United boss got slightly ahead of himself amid the euphoria of the 2-1 win against Chelsea when he said: “It's fantastic being the most successful team in the country in terms of championship victories.

“As soon as that one in 1993 the door opened to us. I would not have believed it (overcoming Liverpool's record of 18).

“Once we got that first title the door opened and we improved and improved.”

United got of to a storming start in what was billed as the title decider with Javier Hernandez scoring after 30 seconds.

And Fergie paid tribute to his £8m Mexican bargain, who took his tally to 20 in all competitions.

“It was a fantastic start,” he said. “It was a great pass from Ji-sung Park. But Chicarito has been fantastic. For the goal he shaped to bend it the other way but see Cech on his wrong foot a bit so he slid it the other side. It was fantastic,” Sir Alex added.

“I remember Paul Scholes saying to me in Houston on pre-season that Chicharito will get you 25 goals as a sub! He hasn't quite got it yet but there are still three games to go!

“We got nervous because we kept missing chances. It gave them a lifeline. We should have been out of sight. But that is the nature of Manchester United.”

Ferguson had praised referee Howard Webb as the best official in the country before the match but the World Cup whistler turned down two United penalty appeals.

“We should have had clear penalty kicks but we can always say that if we win the title we didn't need the referees to get us it and that is even more pleasing,” Fergie added.

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