Manchester achieved a unique double at the weekend with Manchester United confirming themselves as Champions of the Premier League, with a record breaking 19 top flight titles. A couple of hours after United‘s draw with Blackburn Rovers, their cross town rivals, Manchester City, won the FA Cup at Wembley. So Manchester will be painted red white and sky blue this week.
That said, neither game was exactly spellbinding. United went one nil down to Blackburn after 20 minutes when Australian international Brett Emerton took advantage of a mix up in the Man United defence. Stand-in goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak failed to gather a cross from Emerton, he knocked the ball out to the right and Martin Olsson was able to gather and fire in another cross to Emerton, who put it in the bottom corner of the net.
Quite why Kuszczak was in goal was a mystery. The ever relaible van der Sar was not injuerd and Kuszczak looks certain to leave at the end of the season. I can only assume he was there to put him in the shop window, but United did themselves no favours there, as he looked nervous and shaky all game.
United looked nervous for the rest of the first half and Rovers looked like they could score again. So United were happy to go in only 1-0 down at the break. But Blackburn looked favourites to increase their lead 20 minutes into the second half when Emerton and Olsson combined again, but Olsson‘s header hit the post and bouced away to safety. United got the break they neeeded when Rovers keeper Robinson brought down Hernandez in the box. There was some contention and discussion between the referee and linesman before the penalty was awarded, this was of course supported by some ugly badgering of the officials by the United players. The penalty certainly looked valid on the replays. Rooney made no mistake with the spot kick, launching it into the side of the goal and sending Robinson the wrong way.
The remaining 17 minutes of the game petered out into a bit of a farce. United had the point they needed to claim the title and Blackburn were happy to settle for a point that almost sees them safe from relegation. For most of the remainder, Man Utd played the ball around in their own half and Blackburn did not attack them. If it had been a boxing match both sides would have been warned for not fighting.
In the FA Cup final Stoke battled well against the multi-million pound squad of Manchester City, but never came close to the form that saw them put 5 goals past Bolton Wanderers in the semi final. Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen had a good game making saves from Tevez, Balotelli and Silva. Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure scored the one and only goal of the game, firing home a ball that was pinballing around in the area and clearing a sea of legs to hit the back of the net.
City ended a 35 year drought without a major trophy and have also qualified for the European Champions League next season. Most pundits do not see them going too far in that competition, but who knows what players they will pick up in the off season, with almost limitless funds available to them.