Day: May 16, 2009

Manchester United & The Breaking Of Liverpool’s Record

By three o’clock this afternoon, it is likely that Manchester United will be the Premier League champions again. A point from their lunchtime kick-off against Arsenal today will be enough to ensure that the title returns to Old Trafford and, while there will be a small amount of amusement to be taken from studying whether Arsene Wenger will be able to witness of all of this with any grace (conventional wisdom says no, but the smart money is on a lot of smiling through gritted teeth), for those of us of a certain age, it will be the end of an era because if or when Manchester United win this year’s Premier League, they will tie Liverpool’s record of eighteen championship wins. That Liverpool were the most successful club side in the history of English football has been A Truth Universally Acknowledged for most of my lifetime. Supporters can argue for hours and hours over who is “better”, but you can’t really argue with statistics, and statistics are all that Liverpool supporters have had to fall back on over the last sixteen years or so. When the Premier League started in 1992, Liverpool’s record seemed unassailable. True enough, they had stumbled over the previous couple of seasons, but they had eighteen title wins to Manchester United’s seven, but few people would have anticipated the utter domination that United would...

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Match Of The Week: ** **** 0-0 Scunthorpe United

So, you play a forty-six match season in which you have finished in third place, some distance clear of the opposition. At the end of that season, you have take part in a play-off match against a team that finished three league places and eleven points behind you, and you fail to kill them off over the 210 minutes of open played that transpire, and the tie goes to a penalty shoot-out. At 3-3, the opposition miss, giving you a golden opportunity to take the lead, but your player misses. At 4-4, the opposition miss again and you are just one kick away from a Wembley final. And you miss it again. Then, at 7-6 down, your former international striker, a man that has played in the Premier League, the Champions League and the World Cup Finals, misses. And that’s it. You’ve blown it. Sometimes it’s surprising how magnanimous football supporters can be. Most of us know the aching pain of losing after a penalty shoot-out, missing out on promotion by the breadth of a goalpost or any of the other myriad of misfortunes that can blow your entire season, and we understand that there is something fundamentally cruel about the end of season play-offs. Leeds United may still be widely loathed (to be frank, it’s disproportionate, considering that they have now been two years in League One and...

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