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Can Man Utd re-write history?

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Phil McNulty | 21:29 UK time, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson bristled and unleashed his best "turn to stone" glare at the mere hint that history might be about to wrap Manchester United in its warm embrace once more.

Ferguson was on familiar territory after United claimed the Carling Cup against unfortunate Spurs at Wembley after a final that was intriguing without ever fulfilling its early promise.

The question was justified, the answer a perfect example of expectation management from a man who has mastered the art in a silver-lined Old Trafford career.

United have added the Carling Cup to the Club World Cup, have strengthened their grip on the Premier League even after a day off from that particular domestic combat, are in the last eight of the FA Cup and nicely placed to reach the Champions League quarter-final.

So, Ferguson was asked, can United successfully complete the biggest clean sweep of them all?

"It's a media thing" was Ferguson's dismissive, instant response. Far be it from me to disagree with the great man but it is not "a media thing"- it is a genuine, realistic possibility.

Ben Foster holds the Carling Cup trophy

Ferguson rightly stated the quintuple - a new word even in United's lexicon of success - could come tumbling down in one moment of ill-fortune, but this victory once again demonstrated that, as with all great sides, they find ways to win even when their best deserts them.

And when the Scot studies his ledger after the Wembley celebrations have subsided, he will be in credit nearly all the way.

United have more silverware, have watched Liverpool's loss at Middlesbrough leave the Merseysiders running third in what even Ferguson thought was a two-horse race - and have uncovered compelling evidence that in Ben Foster their goalkeeping future is literally in safe hands.

Foster's career has stuttered through no fault of his own, but under the gaze of England coach Fabio Capello he looked like the goalkeeper so many have heard so much about for so long.

If the Italian is caused any sleepless night by his job, one of the contributing factors might be that he does not have, as yet, a keeper he can count on. If Foster stays fit and gets enough games he could be Capello's man in South Africa next year.

One ill-judged early piece of poor positioning apart, Foster was commanding, handled well and produced a magnificent save from Aaron Lennon with 20 minutes left to keep United level.

He made a crucial block with his legs to save from Darren Bent as Spurs pushed for a winner, and showed a natural presence and authority that fully justified Ferguson's faith in selecting him.

Foster then saved Jamie O'Hara's opening penalty to put the skids under Spurs' hopes of repeating last year's win in this competition.

Ferguson was in no doubt: "The future's his - the present belongs to Edwin van der Sar. I think Ben Foster will be England's goalkeeper for the next number of years."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was understandably satisfied with his side's efforts, matching United - and more besides in spells - and they at least deserved to take the game to penalties.

Ledley King and Michael Dawson were outstanding in defence, Luka Modric is a creator in the best Spurs tradition and if Redknapp can somehow get Lennon to combine his electrifying approach play with end product then he will be doing himself and England a favour.

But Spurs lacked class and clout up front, with Roman Pavlyuchenko producing a performance designed to push him to the front of the summer clear-out queue and Bent just not having enough in his armoury to trouble United.

There was enough from Spurs, however, to suggest that when Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios play regularly and Redknapp does business in the summer, there will be solid foundations in place to make serious progress.

There was an inevitability about United's victory once the shoot-out got under way - keeping Ferguson and his team on course to make this the most decorated season of all.

And, despite the defensive straight bat brandished by Ferguson in the bowels of Wembley after adding another trophy to his honours list, there is that genuine possibility that United can be successful to the power of five this season.

It would take a rare act of generosity on United's part to relinquish their Premier League crown now and stop them making it three trophies this season. It seems an age away (10 January to be precise) when Rafael Benitez reacted to a goalless draw at Stoke City by suggesting United might be "a little bit scared" to see Liverpool top of the table.

United's quest for more cup glory could provide their most difficult assignments, with the shadow of Jose Mourinho looming over the second leg of their last 16 clash in the Champions League with Inter Milan.

A goalless draw in Milan still leaves the tie in the balance, while an FA Cup trip to Roy Hodgson's Fulham in the FA Cup is a serious test.

But the strength of United's squad was underscored by the fact that this latest success was achieved with keeper Van der Sar rested, Dimitar Berbatov nowhere to be seen against his former club, Wayne Rooney sidelined by a virus and Michael Carrick also taken out of the firing line.

Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs started on the bench as a further illustration that United have the quality and depth to take this tilt at history between now and May.

It is a mighty task and Ferguson is using wisdom gained through many successes to dampen down anticipation of a season that could eclipse even the perfect treble triumph of 1999.

But when it comes to silverware, Ferguson is always in it to win it - and while he may not trumpet United's hopes of claiming the big five, he will surely accept in his private moments that there is no reason why they cannot make this their greatest campaign.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Good Blog Phil

    I think United can win everything but we will slip up in either FA cup or champions league. We are not as strong as last season, but are relying on our rivals being very poor.

    It was nice to see Foster put in a good performance after so many injury troubles and hopefully he can provide Capello with another option. I think South Africa is too early. Maybe Euro 2012.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Just a small technical point on the "biggest clean sweep of them all" comment - have people forgotten the UEFA Super Cup. Now it may be mickey mouse, but it is as relevant as the World Club Cup, Charity Shield and arguably the League Cup!

  • Comment number 4.

    The competition is so high. I reckon Sir Alex will do what he does best...take every game at a time. So Newcastle here we come.

  • Comment number 5.

    Phil, what are your thoughts on Mark Lawrenson's comment on Football Focus on Saturday that the World Club Championship should not be considered as a meaningful title and therefore no Qunituple should be consuidered? I think he said something about it being big in South America, but not here (rather disparagingly I thought).

  • Comment number 6.


    How exactly was the referee on United's side yesterday? If he was then surely United would have had a penalty and Ronaldo would not have had a yellow card.

  • Comment number 7.

    Though on the face of it you could feel great about the possiblity of United sweeping all before them, its an extremely difficult task.

    With two down and three more to go, EPL seems to be destined to stay where it currently is. United could possibly feel confident of reaching the semis of FA Cup which would mean SAF would give it a good shot who ever be the opposition which would mean a good chance of going all the way.

    If there is one cup which could possibly get out of United's reach it could be the UCL, its going to be mighty difficult to progress till the end even though I feel United might see of Inter even though the tie is evenly balanced.

  • Comment number 8.

    naw it's a media thing. I dont' see how they are well placed in the Champions league at all. To talk of a quintuple is ridiculous really, the club world cup was only won because they won the champions league last year and therefore actually belongs to last season. Loosing to Zenith broke the quintuple but if they had won it now the media would be talking sextupletes. :-).
    Any trophy is a bonus they know that at United, not a god given right like some clubs imagine.

  • Comment number 9.

    not sure about foster for 1st choice for the world cup, dont think he's quite ready yet. he should be given a few games in friendlies but he's still very young for a goalkeeper.

    yes he's prone to a few howlers, but david james has really come through the mire - criticism almost as bad as that which ended seaman's england career - and is still in international contention, plus has the experience - he's seems to have been in football forever!

  • Comment number 10.

    chrissy-cjc... totally agree... no less important or any easier than the world club cup... in fact i'd suggest its more difficult to win super cup as its so early in the season and its against a very good european team with something to prove and test themselves against (bearing in mind they normally have champs league football to play a few weeks later)

  • Comment number 11.

    2. At 07:51am on 02 Mar 2009, dannyfarrar

    I suppose it does help with the officials on your side every game...

    yes - like when Ronaldo was booked instead of winning a penalty

    It would be an embarassing state for English football that only one team has won anything

    yes - how embarassing - i could not look at any non-english person in the eye if manu won everything as people would make fun of the english -ALL YOUR DOMESTIC TROPHIES WON BY ONE TEAM - HANG YOUR HEADS IN SHAME- AND ONLY MAN UTD WINNING THE CHAMPS LEAGUE - THE ENGLISH ARE PATHETIC - how they would mock us

  • Comment number 12.

    Manchester United 'the best yesterday, the best today & the best tomorrow. The best that other teams can do is to fight for 2nd spot in all competitions. Good blog Phil.

  • Comment number 13.

    Just a small technical point on the "biggest clean sweep of them all" comment - have people forgotten the UEFA Super Cup. Now it may be mickey mouse, but it is as relevant as the World Club Cup, Charity Shield and arguably the League Cup


    Just a small technical point ....We didnt win it!

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't help thinking that the EPL is incredibly weak at the moment. None of the teams excite me bar Man Utd and they haven't exactly set the heather alight for me either. And yet the midweek CL results suggest that it's streets ahead of the other European leagues. Maybe, therefore, the EPL is actually really strong and the sign if a strong league is that all the teams cancel each other out. Dunno.

    Either way, Man Utd appear to be on another planet and if they win back-to-back CLs will rightfully stake their claim as one of, if not the, best teams in history.

  • Comment number 15.

    United look very good for the clean sweep of domestic trophies this season, but the CL is anyone's guess, even if they beat Inter (which i think they will), then there are still plenty of tough ties to come in that knockout cmpetition.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think he was right to play it down.

    Premiership ? Almost a certainty, but even that could still go wrong, I expect Chelsea to run it to the wire and drop very few points now.

    FA Cup. I think they will get to the semi finals , depends on the draw then.
    Fixture congestion starts to take its toll at that point, even with the squad size.

    Champions League. I dont think they will get it.Not putting the chances away well enough in Europe, they will get caught out.
    If the draws kind, Chelsea/Liverpool for that one.
    One things for sure, with the possible exception of Barcelona, the English teams are head and shoulders above the rest.

  • Comment number 17.

    United can do it but the odds are against it. I reckon there is a 90% chance of them winning the title, probably 40% chance of winning the FA cup (still some good teams in it) and maybe 20% in the champions league as all the big teams are still in it and looking good.

    The combined odds of that are about 14-1 which is possible but still a longshot. I'm not claiming my odds are particularly accurate but it does put it in perspective!

  • Comment number 18.

    I believe Manchester United will win all the domestic trophies left to them, but I do believe they will trip up in the Champions League, and maybe even lose to Inter Milan.

    But, rather than United being a great side, I believe the standard of opposition is poor. United themselves had a very patchy start to the league season, and yet despite that they are able to claw themselves into a virtually unassailable lead by the end of February.

    United are a very, very good side, and at their best they are extremely difficult to beat, but catch them on an off day and they can be contained. You only have to look at the amount of 1-0 wins and late goals they have scored this season.

    It is not luck, I admit that, but scraping results against Sunderland, Stoke, West Ham etc, does not make you a great side.

    Indeed look at the immediate opposition. Liverpool are toothless at best without Torres and Gerrard. Chelsea have struggled to find the right system. Aston Villa are just not consistent enough and don't have the strength in depth. Arsenal, no firepower. Everton, a dogged, but ultimately jobbing good side.

    In Europe these days the opposition is much stronger and United will find the step up eventually too much in my opinion, as they are not used to playing quality opposition enough.

    Good luck to them though, It would be good if an English side could win the Champions League again!

  • Comment number 19.

    bluboybadger - that is what I'm saying. Man Utd didn't win it, so there is no "clean sweep". Just a point, doesn't detract from the achievement of winning X trophies or anything, but lets not conveniently ignore ones to make a nice headline!

  • Comment number 20.

    I think United will win the Premier League, but agree with 16 nogginthenogforever that it may get tighter towards the end as United drop points (they have not played all that well all season, just have been extremely good at squeezing out close victories) and Chelsea put pressure on.

    Champions League: there is a lot of work to do just to win this tie, never mind the competition, I think it remains wide open.

    FA Cup: Chelsea and Arsenal in particular will be huge threats, despite their current presence in the Champions League this is without doubt the best possibility for silver, and United are likely to rest key players.

    Conclusion: Premier League only to come this season.

  • Comment number 21.

    Agreed ManU do not seem to be as irresistible as last year yet they are as effective or more so in terms of getting results. Its worrying that they are not able to score as many in spite of bringing in Berbatov. Maybe Tevez deserves a run at his expense....

    The interesting one is the champions league because this is the priority for SAF. But the return game with Inter is far from a done deal although ManU should prevail. Barca is the only remaining test for them if they get through.

    The ManU squad is far superior to Liverpool's and Chelsea's so the EPL is safe. As SAF said yesterday the FA Cup is a bit of a gamble so who knows.

  • Comment number 22.

    Congratulations to the fans, players and coaching staff of Man Utd.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 23.


    I'm intrigued to know what constitutes the term "Man Utd's clean sweep".

    If you want to count the World Club Cup as part of this then surely the European Super Cup, which you and many others conveniently forget was won by Zenit St Petersburg, should also be part of the equation.

    As a Utd fan I suppose this kind of blinkered jingoism would be understandable. As an impartial BBC journalist? I see that you are back to genuflecting at the altar that is all things Man Utd.

    Killingholme Clay

  • Comment number 24.

    Five I think it's Six ?

    Charity Shield
    World Club Champions
    Carling Cup
    FA Cup
    Premier League
    European Cup / Champions League

    I am affraid to say that at the moment I can't see anyone else winning the premier next season

    Liverpool only have a one man team

    Chelsea Will struggle again due to manager issues and a clearout of non playing players

    Arsenal = Player and a manager issues

    So more of the same next year execpt for Everton and Villa who with the right buy's could push for 4th.

    The premier league is now like the SPL only a possible two teams in it and the whole season will revolve around 8 games for the top 4 teams home and away against each other !

    Simon wishing Millwall had the same problem

  • Comment number 25.

    The prem is wrapped up - but that is more to do with weakness on the part of the others than United's strengths - you look at arsenal, liverpool and chelsea and they're all sub-par, and the rest of the league is tight for the same reason

    take nothing away from united, they'll be worthy winners of the league - but they aren't as good as last year - which is where the CL will come from - Barca are an obvious threat, and Inter may well score a goal and knock out united with a draw (it's possible!), and the 3 other english teams are quite capable of beating United on any given day, likewise in the FA cup Chelsea or Arsenal could easily spring a result

    They will win the league, as they have done so many times, and obviously that's a huge prize but their other cups are the toothless world club cup and a mid-week cup for the reserves - it doesn't indicate a quintuple just yet

  • Comment number 26.

    If Man U somehow achieve the quintuple, it will be a miraculous feat, even yesterday there was moments when it could have all came crashing down.

    I agree the league is all but in the trophy cabinet, as United are great front runners.

    If we can get passed Inter biggest threats in the CL will be the English clubs and Barca, two of the same English clubs are as big a threat in the FA Cup.

    If Berbe can pull his finger out, they have every chance.

    Have United scored at the new wembley yet?

    Glory Glory... x 5

  • Comment number 27.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but what about the Community Shield? Isn't that 3 titles already this season. But I agree that whilst the premiership is likely to be won there is a long way to go in the cup competitions - but isn't the correct term a sextuple?

  • Comment number 28.

    What is it with all this anti-United talk? Nobody said when Chelsea won the league back-to-back that other teams played poorly or they got narrow margin victories. Also there is the fact that United broke the clean sheet record - every team who has been good in history has kept it tight at the back.

    You cannot win 4 or 5-0 every week. It is about a W in the column surely?

    In terms of winning every trophy the task is huge, but who knows? anything is possible.

    FA Cup is all about how the draw shapes up - one-off games anything can happen.

    Champions League - It looks like a Barcelona vs the Premier League clubs, but with Barca shipping goals recently it doesn't shape well for them.

    Premier League - the consistent team always ends up winning games. Liverpool have drawn 10 games - far too many dropped points. Chelsea are winning but probably not enough games yet.

    I also do not understand how everyone criticises poor teams playing United - in fact Man United played last season's top 3 and Aston Villa away before the mid-way point. Arguably the toughest four games to play!

    The ref yesterday was generally poor, should have been an O'Shea red card and a penalty for United.

  • Comment number 29.

    COLLIE 21...

    If the World Club Cup belongs to last year because they were only in it due to winning the CL last year then surely that would also relate to the Super Cup. Therefore your point is redundant.

    Just a thought thats all.


    If they win the 3 remaining trophies on top of what they already have won then i think it deserves to be applauded in the way people are already talking about it.

    38 Games in the EPL
    2 in the WCC
    13 in the CL
    6 in the FA Cup
    1 in the Charity Shield
    6 in the League Cup
    1 in the Super Cup

    Have i missed anything ?????

    Thats a lot of games.

  • Comment number 30.

    If you want to count the World Club Cup as part of this then surely the European Super Cup, which you and many others conveniently forget was won by Zenit St Petersburg, should also be part of the equation.


    I think they're ignoring trophies that only take one game to win i.e. community shield/super cup. But i reckon if Utd had won the super C then they would include these one-game trophies too to make an even bigger headline, so yes they are 'conveniently' forgetting about the Sup C, shame on you Phil...

  • Comment number 31.

    In 1999 there was an air of destiny about the treble. It was written in the stars. For some reason I don't feel the same way about this season perhaps because we've been scraping wins rather than strolling over the opposition.

    Not saying that it won't happen but there is still a long way to go. Inter still remain a threat in the last 16 and then there will be Barca/Bayern/other English clubs lying in wait in the latter stages should we progress.

    The FA Cup - expect to beat Fulham although not an easy game at Craven Cottage. Chelsea and Arsenal provide a threat to this trophy.

    Think the bookies have the quintuple at 10-1, quite short and I'lll not be backing it lest I scud them!

  • Comment number 32.

    All this talk of Man U winning everything has just got to stop!!! It's because your all stroking their egos ala Hodgson that they are marching towards this! It makes me so angry to hear opposition managers conceeding defeat to them before the match has even begun and then stating that they are untouchable after they have put up a fight a malnouished kitten would win!
    It was never a yellow for Ronaldo yesterday, but it was also never a pen for him either...he was already on his way down after over stretching for the ball, if no other player was in 20yds of him he would still have fallen over...correct me if I am wrong but you cannot get a pen for lying down in the box waiting for someone to touch you, then claim that's why you are on the floor! Another thing I need to get off my chest....why oh why was OShea not sent off for his second bookable offence yesterday? Andy Gray said it was "because he had already been booked"...WHAT??? someone help me out on this one...Man U fans bleat like stuck goats about a pen that never was but then fail to even mention the red that should have been!!! Thats why people think refs favour them...coz they do!!
    One final thing if Manure win everything then I will be sick in my own pants...but if they somehow do then please dont try and add the World Club cup to the trophy haul. When Liverpool won all the cup treble under Houllier I never spouted on about the charity shield and Euro Super knows who you played, no-one went to the match, no-one cares!!!!
    Can anyone tell I'm bitter about the weekends results? Cheers Rafa!

  • Comment number 33.

    Can United re-write history ?

    It's too early to say just yet, but to indulge in fantasy, it is of course possible.

    Arsenal went unbeaten in 2004/2005 and had you asked if they could go unbeaten 12-14 games from the end the answer would have been somewhat the same.

    The difference is though, that Manchester United make us consider this type of question a lot more often then any other team in the Premier League.

    In this particular season, Manchester United are a very good side, but their opponents title challenges, namely Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have been once again, thoroughly disappointing.

    United appear to be in some sort of cruise control rather that of a side with a chasing pack behind them. They are rolling along with relative ease.

    In every Premier League Season, Manchester United have either won the premiership, or they have sustained a serious title bid and only lost in the last couple of weeks or days of the season.

    This is not true of any other team.

    Would it not then become prudent to say that the difference between the big clubs is not the players or the money, because all the big clubs have or had one or both of those things at various times, but only United have had Sir Alex Ferguson.

    Ferguson has engineered these success stories season after season, with a squad that now looks nothing like the sides of the mid 90's, with the exception of the timeless Ryan Giggs.

    Liverpool's challenge this season has lasted till March, Chelsea's too, Arsenal's never got started really and these sort of runaway's have happened on numerous occasions in the last decade or so.

    Even Arsene Wenger with an unbeaten season and a couple of doubles to his name must look north and wonder why it can't be him.

  • Comment number 34.

    Good luck to Sir Alex and Man U for the remaining trophies. I think they have shown just what a fantastic team they are to come back after being written off, I find it laughable to see some comments from obvious bitter rival fans claiming the officials are on our side, what pish!

    What a manager! What a Team

    Good luck boys :)

  • Comment number 35.

    Re chrissy_cjc and subsequent comments:

    Yes, I've thought this as well. The media don't seem to be able to count. The absolute perfect season, which can only be achieved if the given team won the CL and either the FAC or PL the season before, would involve winning 7 trophies, presumably known as The Septuplet:

    Community Shield
    UEFA Super Cup
    World Club Cup
    League Cup
    Premier League
    FA Cup
    UEFA Champions League

    Since Manchester United lost the Super Cup they can 'only' win 6 of these. That does, however, mean they are on for The Sextuplet and not Quintuplet as is being reported. If the Super Cup doesn't count, then neither does the World Club Cup - you can't have it both ways. Whatever happens it will no doubt be an incredible achievement given that they're guaranteed to win at least 4 of these but it should be reported properly by the media. If they're going to be pedantic enought to talk of such records, then they should be pedantic enough to count them up properly!

  • Comment number 36.

    I think United have an excellent chance of winning the remaining 3 trophies.

    The league is virtually wrapped up. Assuming United (having only conceded 11 goals in the league and only lost 2 games) carry on, no one is good enough to catch them.

    The FA Cup is a tricky one, depending on how important Fergie views it. If an FA Cup game is before/after a CL game then he could view it as a less important trophy and field a weakened side. I think if he plays anyone other than Chelsea or Arsenal a weakened side would probably not be good enough, where as any other team they would probably be good enough to get thru. Just look at yesterday.

    The CL i think may not be as tricky as people think. Barca shipped 4 goals at CL rivals yesterday, can you imagine Man U conceding 4 to Liverpool/Chelsea? Not at all!

    Of course Barca are a threat, but think United have the defensive side to their game to counter this. Liverpool could be a test in the CL, but dont think there is as much tough competition as previous years.

    Think they will win the league and CL. FA Cup might suffer as a result

  • Comment number 37.

    In the last 12 months (9 in fact) United have won how many trophies? EPL, CL, C Shield,
    W CLUB C and League Cup.
    That's 6 since May 2008.
    Adding another EPL and the FA CUP and another CL is without doubt almost impossible BUT-when on a roll- etc etc! So if they do go on to win 9 in 12 months it perhaps would be a World club record- ask the experts on that one.

    I am under no illusions about how impossible this tally is and with retaining the CL being perhaps the hardest to win of the remaining 3 trophies they have within their grasp one must feel that the 'impossible' is just flatly unobtainable.

    The triple was said to be impossible in 1999 and we dared to believe! So I dare to believe and will no doubt be disapointed! So what!
    You risk - you lose sometimes! I'd rather be disapointed along the way than not be in with a chance.

    Yesterday we were lucky O'Shea didn't go off, we were unluckly not to have been awarded that Ronaldo penalty, we were also unlucky in the dying seconds when Ronaldo hit the upright! So well done to Spurs and Liverpoool and Chelsea for giving us a run so far this season- it's still on by the way! We can still lose the FA cup, the EPL and the CL- but we can also still win them. And that would be the high of highs!


    Oh and yes- the EPL clubs have a grit that other leagues lack- so another all English final I hope! Yes I am biased!

  • Comment number 38.

    Charity Shield, EC Super Cup, WCC, Carling Cup all nice trophies to win as a bonus but they mean nothing with winning either the Premiership or Champions League.

    While the FA Cup is the third most important trophy to win it is the PL and CL that if I had to choose are the ones that I would want Utd to win.

    If Utd go on to win PL, CL and FA this season then of course its nice to say we won six trophies in a season, it'll be great to get a team shot with all trophies displayed in front of them but the trophies won so far mean nothing without a CL or PL win.

    If Chelsea win PL and/or Liverpool win CL I'm not gonna brag about being Carling Cup or World Club Champions!!

    As I say nice to win but only if accompanied by the big ones!

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't support Manchester United, but I think, for the neutral, it is terrific to see them doing so well. United are not as much a part of what is wrong with the modern game as other teams e.g. Chelsea, because:

    1. Their money is mostly earned (directly or indirectly) through football, not just "given" to the club e.g. Chelsea, Manchester City.

    2. They have a strong commitment to developing British Isles players and staff, which is good for the British Isles.

    3. Their manager and many of their players have had a long and dedicated tenure at the club.

    So I won't tire of seeing Manchester United winning stuff if they hold true to these values.

  • Comment number 40.

    Everybody, goes on about everybody being poor and letting Man U win the league...

    The passed decade or so has been filled with remarkable feats, Arsenal's unbeaten season, Chelsea (and Mourinho) spending a small countries GDP to bring home two titles, and well Man U, who have been exceptional for nearly two decades and rebounded to all comers.

    Does anybody not think the rest of the Premier League is actually better, and this season teams are more likely to drop points anywhere.

    In response to the chap who said the EPL is getting like the SPL, not a chance, maybe the team that takes home the title rarely changes, but the ability to cause upsets from the 'lesser' teams is rife in the prem, which makes Man U's consistency all the more admirable.

  • Comment number 41.

    Its seems everyone on here doesn't believe the achievment of Man Utd in the Premiership means that we can't call them a "great" team due to the sub par performances of the other teams. I then counter this with a question: Who was the last "great" Premiership team? Chelsea under Morinho? Failed to win Champs league, twice! Not great. Arsenal's "invincibles"? Again failed to win champions league.

    I'll admit that Arsenal haven't been great, but Chelsea and Liverpool have been close and are doing well in Europe. Man Utd in the 1999 season won the Premiership by 1 point from Arsenal with a total of 79 points. They only need 6 more wins to beat that total.

    However, unless Man Utd retain the Champs league they won't be a great side. I think a team that Retains the CL plus wins their domestic league automatically gets the status of great side.

  • Comment number 42.

    I can't believe Phil you didn't mention the O'shea incident yesterday. That was a stone wall second yellow and sending off for John O'shea which could have turned the game.

    Man U supporters will retort that Ronaldo should have had a penalty 5 minutes after but if Man U had gone down to ten men, who knows whether the penalty claim 5 minutes later would have occurred with Man U down to ten men. In any case I think the referee decided to even up the decisions which means two bad decisions were made.

    So yes in answer to your question.. If the referees continue to bottle big decisions in favour of Man U I am sure that they can keep winning everything in this decade.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think Sir Alex can make history but more importantly he should then retire, relax and be measured against it.

    As a United fan I would love to see us scoop 'all five' trophies, then I would like to see the greatest ever British manager retire on the highest of highs, in fairness he can achieve no more.

    Good luck Sir Alex, go on and scribe your mark on our long and proud history.

  • Comment number 44.

    United have so far had a good deal of luck and other teams stepping aside for them - the odds on this happening in all competitions would prompt a steward's inquiry.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm with Cantona1968. The PL and CL are the trophies to win and I'd happily settle for those 2 again this season. The FA Cup is great to win but the other 2 mean more.

    The Carling Cup is good for giving fringe players a game and is a day out at Wembley.

    Charity shield is a traditional curtain raiser but not really much more than a pre-season firendly.

    The other 2 are marketing exercises.

  • Comment number 46.

    Good topic Phil!

    Being a Manchester United fan i think the quin is possible,but it would take luck to be on our side.What do i mean by that?I mean for example in the F.A cup Arsenal and Chelsea are still in it i hope that they crushout to either with out playing us in the latter stages of the competition.

    As for the champions league,i strongly believe that an English team will win it again this season,it seems as though the other leagues are far behind than their english couterparts.Bacerlona are the only team that can cause english teams problems,but heir defence leaves alot to be desired from.

    As for the league i feel our opponents have handed this title!We not playing well like we did last season yet we still got a healthy lead at the top.

    Liverpool has had the fear on their heads for weeks now.From the time of that famous outburst from their manager they just don't seem the same side to me.Their over reliance on Gerrard is evident.No team can win anything from being a one man side.

    Chelsea are playing predictable football,straight on the middle,no wideth at all.During Jose's first two season they had Duff and Robben,these two gave them so much wideth that most defences didn't know how to deal with them.From the time Duff left and Robben got injured even Jose become less consistent with his team selections.Problems crept in and the rest like they is history,he left!

    To sum it up i think the Manchester UNited can win the unprecedented quin this season.

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree with poster #34 and add my good wishes to the team and congratulations to SAF who is by far the best club Manager in the world.
    The quintuplet or whatever is pure media talk although a mathematical possiblility.
    I believe after last nights celebrations, the boys and the boss will be training and focusing on the Newcastle game, then turn their thoughts to a second leg with a very lucky Inter, who have a chance of spoiling the party, but shouldn't have !!
    Good luck United, the best there is for nigh on 20 years.

  • Comment number 48.

    "To talk of a quintuple is ridiculous really, the club world cup was only won because they won the champions league last year and therefore actually belongs to last season."

    What are you on about ^? So United won the league 2006-07 season to qualify for the European CL so that means we didn't actually win the CL last season but indeed the season before? WE WON THE WORLD cup this year/season doesn't matter when we qualified. Stop trying to put us down.

    It's cracking me up with laughter all the rival fans trying to argue this amongst themselves going on about the Super cup, refferees or us not being that good just the opposition being poor just because we only beat Stoke, Sunderland etc just 1-0. Fact is we dominated those games so much so in Sunderlands case that we didn't even let them get a shot on goal or even off target. If a team camps in their own box let alone half there is nothing you can do, I watched that game and it was very frustrating and bad to watch because of what they did so IMO its a poor example to use for debate.

    The ref yesterday alone proved United DO NOT get any extra help or bias because we got 3 yellow cards more than Spurs and Ronaldo was denied a clear penalty and got a yellow for diving. Sky sports said it was a penalty but the ref did not see the touch from their player.

    I don't think this article saying "biggest clean sweep of them all" is about biggest possible but about biggest ever in football so far and it would be, only Man United have won the treble, big treble or Premier, FA cup and European CL so if this came off it would beat them.

    World cup does count, its a FIFA competition and just because it gets no hype over here does not mean anything, its very very big in other parts of the world and you're playing the winners of the other continents champions leagues plus you win about £6m and as money does talk in football (hence Carling cup being least priority) I'd say that makes it fairly good to win.

    Remember Arsenal, Chelsea have never been invited because to enter you HAVE to win the Champions league, they haven't.

    As a United fan I reckon it would be amazing to win all the 3 left and make it 6 pieces of silverware but lets be honest its unlikely and very very hard. One team has only ever done the treble and United had it on last year but Redknapp and Portsmouth fluked us out when we owned the game thats how it can be. The Premiership is not over yet at all and Chelsea always come strong towards the end (like last year) and who knows about Liverpool also. Disrespectful to say its over and the FA cup and CL are tricky as they are knock out comps.

  • Comment number 49.

    41 - Its pretty harsh to say United won't be considered great until they retain the CL - no team has done that since Milan in 1990 when the tournament contained far fewer teams. I think 3 consecutive PLs with a CL thrown in makes them great anyway.

    44 - find time for a pint of bitter at the weekend?

  • Comment number 50.

    Not sure how they'd be rewriting history, after all didn't Celtic manage a *sextuple* in 1967? Well okay, a quintuple and a glorified testimonial match with some shiny silverware attached.

    They took the League, the League Cup, Scottish Cup, European Cup, Glasgow Cup - and the Alfredo di Stefano trophy, the aforementioned glorified testimonial.

    I'm sure Chick Young would be happy to remind you that Scottish football wasn't always one big joke...

    Good luck to Man Utd though, being a Manc - not a Utd supporter though - my only bugbear will be having to listen to their arrogant fans for months afterwards!

  • Comment number 51.

    Tottenham were outplayed by Burnley, by Udinese, and also by Shakhtar Donetsk in their off-season, but not by United.

    United are arguably better than Burnley but with the other two there isn't too much in it. Ok Udinese may be too weak for them at the moment, but I doubt whether they would be able to cope with Donetsk's tricky strike force and knock them out without problems.

  • Comment number 52.

    Yes Phil, it is a realistic chance but theirs plenty of media hype that is a distraction and of course, the pundits have to earn their crust.

    However, I think Utd are in the same situation as they were when the hype about the treble was being branded about. Then, they had a tough semi final against Juventus and the FA cup was no walk over.

    Last season Chelsea could have done the quadruple, but need no reminding they lost to Spurs, the treble was also a possibility at around this stage in the proceedings.

    I think SAF is too wise and to even discuss a realistic prediction and lets face it, their is a long way to go and many fates to encounter.

    I would imagine any club would be happy with just one trophy every other year. As a Man Utd fan the wilderness years are not a too distant past. The odd FA cup!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    what's all this about people thinking Inter will knock United out? Were they watching the same game as me last tuesday??

    Inter were absolutely shocking, considering it was their home leg. If they play like that at Old Trafford then United should have little difficulty in sweeping them aside.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    To comment 39........

    ummm do you actually do any research to back up your statements?

    I suggest you go back and research the level of debt Manchester United currently has on its balance sheet and you will then realise how silly your comment is.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nice blog...

    Comment no.3 has a point. The UEFA Super Cup was lost and if we had won that then we really would have been on course for a clean sweep of all 6 trophies. As it is, we are in for 5. Something not to be sniffed at.

    Sir Alex is right to play down the possibility of winning everything though, even if he does believe its on deep down inside himself. The players are showing levels of maturity and experience that can only help in this quest. No doubt, the FA cup is a big test, as is the Champions League. I personally believe we will sweep past both Fulham and Inter, but the draws for the next rounds will be interesting and with strong teams left in both competitions, it will be no easy feat.

    C'mon United!

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    There isn't such a thing as a 'quintuple', never has and never will exist.

    Domestic league, European cup and domestic cup is all that counts, the latter less so as the opposition is much weaker.

    Everything else is making money.

    And because the authorities and media in the UK are the very best at fooling people and taking their money, unless I am very much mistaken it is the only country in the world with two domestic cup competitions. Which is quite odd.

  • Comment number 59.

    All this quintuple talk will at last be put to bed when Jose is celebrating on the old trafford touchline again next week. I think Inter are gonna nick it 0-1.

  • Comment number 60.

    53. At 10:46am on 02 Mar 2009, Liam20 wrote:

    "Inter were absolutely shocking, considering it was their home leg. If they play like that at Old Trafford then United should have little difficulty in sweeping them aside."

    United were the better team overall but Inter were better than them in the 2nd half. They should have also had a stonewall penalty and an easy one on one in the 2 instances United's defence was undone, but let's go into this again.

  • Comment number 61.

    To comment 55...

    you reference to comment no.39 is incorrect, Manchester United have a debt on their balance sheet only due to the purchase of stock made by the Glazer's. This debt has in no way serviced or been used in the improvement of the team.

    In fact, you might argue that the level of debt has actually prevented Manchester United being even more active in the transfer market.

    This 'fact' almost certainly proves no.39's item 1. that all Manchester United's money is earned, and not only that it pays for a debt that was a consequence of being a publically owned enterprise.

    Having young players, a good portion of which are from the local area is something Sir Matt established from 1945 onward, and despite the wealth of the club, is still an ethos that Fergie has preserved and enhanced.

  • Comment number 62.

    To Comment 61

    Your argument holds no water as United's debt increased in the last 12 months by a further 200m. They obviously were not restricted.

    Furthermore, the team
    United fielded agst Inter did not contain as many British Isle players as you seem to think.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ferguson after being asked about Tottenham's chances etc: "It shows you that finals are always difficult"

    Translation: "It shows you that we aren't as great as everyone thinks we are"

    It's one of those cliches managers use to justify poor performances. Steve McLaren was the master of cliches.

    The best come out when they go away from home in Europe after the press had branded them favourites and get played off the park. Then they'll usually say either "It's always a difficult place to come and play football"; or "We had to be organised/resilient/patient/dig deep/defend as a team/show character..."

    Which in both cases means "We were rubbish"

  • Comment number 64.

    If truth be told, the ABU's have a problem in that, it's not that Man United have the refs in their pocket or get lucky in the 94th minute, the problem is the opposition have come and gone in various guises and the ABU's particularly of Arsenal and Liverpool are jealous, frustrated and angry that their clubs can't keep up. Importantly this season more than others there is an argument that Liverpool Arsenal and Chelsea threw the title away from Drawing too many games while United ground out 1:0 wins.
    Of course they are lucky, but as in Life you make your own luck. I would reiteriate I don't believe they have made their good luck in the champions league yet. And apart from what anyone says, Berba was a waste of money. Tevez tries too hard now to displace him and unbelievably this is team, still in transition with new players settling in, and not one journalist seems to have remarked on that fact.

  • Comment number 65.

    Another final in which United can not win in normal time. It's also the third time United have needed penalties to win a trophy in the last 9 months.

    If this team go on to bore the nation further in the FA Cup and CL in a similar fashion this year then I for one will not be rolling out the praise.

    It just goes to show how ineffective the rest of the EPL has been this year that Man United have been able to manufacture a lead at the top of the table.

    Last year they played much better football than this year and deserved their EPL title, even though it was only by two points.

    This year they have failed to live up to the hype. Claiming it is the best United team ever is also hype. You can't tell me that the football United have played this year has been better than that of 1999.

  • Comment number 66.

    There's a lot of talk here about "United not being as good as they were last season." While they may not be playing with the same flair as last season, it needs pointing out that at this stage last season they had not won anything. At this stage last season, they had not smashed the record for greatest number of clean sheets. and I dare say that at no time last season were they 7 points ahead of everyone else with a game in hand.

    As for the European form, people forget that against Lyon, they pretty much played the way they are playing in the premiership this season. They first contain the opposition by playing possession football, and then score a goal late in the second half to win the game. The only times they play the flair game, is during the group stages against somewhat easier opposition.

    What this means is that after so many failures after looking good, United have finally found another way to play. This allows them to meet opposition whose primary aim is to slow down the game and so prevent them from getting into stride.

    Their game may not be as easy on the eye as it was 2 seasons ago, but I can boldly say that this United side would not have lost 3-0 to AC Milan at the San Siro.

  • Comment number 67.

    Interesting collecting opinion from colleagues in the media yesterday. The game that many feel will be United's potential slip-up is the Champions League tie against Inter Milan.

    And intriguingly barely anyone mentioned Inter's players as a threat at all - the name on everyone's lips was Jose Mourinho.

    Many wondered if "The Special One" will have another moment of mischief to inflict on United.

    To focus on a couple of incidents posters have brought up.

    I mentioned that John O'Shea was fortunate not to get a second yellow card in my match report and I have seen nothing since to change my mind. Having been booked, he was lucky to escape any punishment for his late tackle on Luka Modric.

    As for Cristiano Ronaldo's "dive" - you know what, I don't think he did dive.

    I think he may have lost his footing slightly and there was contact with Ledley King. Not a stonewall penalty but not a dive either.

    It was just a close call that happens in football, but while agreeing Ronaldo has been guilty of diving before, on this occasion I think referee Chris Foy was wrong to book him.

  • Comment number 68.

    Just a question for Spurs fans? What is your view on Aaron Lennon's performance yesterday?

    He has got pace and gave Patrice Evra a rough ride, but does he just fail to deliver that final, killer ball too often?

    I find him incredibly frustrating, but Harry Redknapp spoke in glowing terms about Lennon after the game. He clearly feels he can flick that switch that will enable him to take that final stride towards fulfilling his undoubted promise.

  • Comment number 69.

    Good blog Phil, keep up the high standard.

    Quick question for anyone who can answer it.

    Assuming Manchester United do not have a complete nightmare, what happens to Europa Cup spot for the Carling Cup?

    Does it go to Tottenham or does it go to the 6th place team in the league?

  • Comment number 70.


    You're very right to blog about United's potential tilt at history, but you have to think that the schedule at the end of the season will count againts them with the CL on the Wednesday before Cup final day?

    The level of mental intensity of games is racking up by each week. The CL games will undoubtably affect selection. Basically if United reach the final, foregt the FA cup. If Inter do the business then 4/5 won't be bad for United........

  • Comment number 71.

    I think they're ignoring trophies that only take one game to win i.e. community shield/super cup. But i reckon if Utd had won the super C then they would include these one-game trophies too to make an even bigger headline, so yes they are 'conveniently' forgetting about the Sup C, shame on you Phil...
    dont forget united won the charity shield which is also a one off game, but they're not singing with it cos yes! it is a one off game. Euro Super Cup's like charity shield in Europe what it is in England! Q. E. D.

  • Comment number 72.

    Why does the BBC keep saying that the quintuple is new in football? Celtic won the quintuple in 1967 - European cup, Scottish Cup, League Cup, the Scottish League title and the Glasgow Cup. Even if Man U do get the quintuple, just like the European Cup, Celtic beat them to it.

  • Comment number 73.

    Evans and o'Shea are two awful defenders at this level. Championship standard at best.

  • Comment number 74.

    I can't see how anyone can deem it embarrassing if United won everything. It will be one of those things that will be forever remembered. The guy who wrote this comment, would probably drool if a foreign giant such as Barcelona or Inter won all their domestic trophies and a major european trophy.
    I think this talk of 5 trophies is a bit overplayed, then again everyone was talking about Chelsea doing the quintuple in 2005, then they got knocked out of the FA Cup 4th round. If anyone can do it in this day in age it's Ferguson, or maybe Mourinho. I can see United getting to the Semi's of both the FA Cup and Champions League, but from then on it's anyone's guess. Nonetheless, I will be paying close attention, as a neutral, to witness greatness.

    I keep reading that people are saying the EPL is getting a little boring because all the goals have dried up. However, after the last two seasons when we had a ton of goals, espescially from United, and the dreadfulness that was Derby. This season has been the total opposite, but the tightness, has made it just as exciting, and although the winner is now a formality. I think that if Man Utd go on to do the 'quintuple', everyone worldwide will simply have no option to sit back an admire.
    Plus it would mean that Giggs would have won 11 EPLs 5 FA Cup, 3 League Cups, 3 Champions Leagues, 1 Fifa World Club Cup, not to mention other minor trophies. The only thing he wouldn't have won would be the European Super Cup, then again he'd have another shot at it next season, hopefully against City.

  • Comment number 75.

    The Europa spot goes to the 6th place team, and if the FA Cup final is between two teams already qualified for Europe then that place goes to the 7th placed team I believe. COYI!!

  • Comment number 76.

    You need a bit of luck. Not always the best team wins the FA or Champs league.

  • Comment number 77.

    Let us put the various competitions in proper perspective.

    The "Super Cup" is really a totally meaningless match apart from it being an exhibition match.

    The Community Shield is more meaningful because the proceeds are going to charity and therefore this gives a lot more meaning to the match than the "Super Cup".

    However, the Community Shield should not be considered as a major trophy because it is just a one-off match at the start of the season.

    The CWC for all the criticisms levelled at it is nevertheless Fifa's official club world championships and this gives it immense value.

    A good way to grade the remaining competitions would be to see how Sir Alex Ferguson himself selects the team for each competition.

    And the fact is that he does not select the first team for both the Carling Cup and also the FA Cup matches.

    In Japan however, we saw that he did indeed select the first team for both of Manchester United's CWC matches although he did mix it up a bit.

    And he has of course stated that the Premier League and Champions League will always be the priority.

    And so, we can deduce that this is how SAF would grade the various competions:

    Premier League -- (A+) competition

    Champions League -- (A+) competition

    CWC -- (A) compettion

    FA Cup -- (B+) competition

    Carling League Cup -- (B) competition

    Community Shield -- non-competition i.e. no grade given

    Super Cup -- exhibition match i.e. no grade given

  • Comment number 78.

    comment #65

    if we did manage to win 5 trophies this season then i think people will start claiming it as the best man utd side in SAF's tenture, and they would be right to do so.

    you say we have not played as well this season as last, for as good as our attack was last season, this time its our defence that is rock solid, meaning that we only need 1 goal to win games usually.

    Plus there is the whole park the bus scenario when teams visit OT, if teams were more open when they play us we would score more freely, just common sense.

  • Comment number 79.

    JimtheMason. Spot on. It is a source of much pride to many Manchester United supporters that we are one of the few sides left who achieve by investing in local players.

    It is also one of the reasons I hope that Aston Villa and Everton build on their relative success this year as O'Neil in particular and Moyes have really invested in British talent and achieved relative success. It is something that Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have sadly seemingly abandoned.

  • Comment number 80.

    How can people come on this blog and say Man Utd are only walking away with the Prem title because of the inadequacies of other teams?! They are dominating the Prem, European and World football because of their brilliance, not the shortcomings of others! Someone has even suggested (*31) that Shahktar are a better side- get real!!!!

    Yes Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are not as consistent as in previous seasons but to say the Prem is weak (comment *14) when these three have just respectively beaten Real, Roma and Juventus is a poor argument.

    And can everyone stop calling it the EPL; this aint a US site y'all!

  • Comment number 81.

    In answer to comments about Lennon, I think he was excellent yesterday. Great pace and close control. He maybe lacks that final ball but then so did Giggs for a long time. I would like to see Redknap play him on the left and see if he can cut in and play more direct. I also thought Modric was great for you guys. Good luck in the league.

  • Comment number 82.


    Why does the World Club Cup belong to last season, just because qualification belonged to last season?

    So the UCL this season belongs to last season because United qualified by winning the premiership last season?

    Strange logic there.

  • Comment number 83.

    Wouldn't it be a 'sextuple'? - can't forget the charity shield

  • Comment number 84.

    I can safely say now, as a United fan, that we will NOT win the quintuple. Any articles regarding this are nonsense and clearly written by people who know nothing about sport, and are just interested in short-term glory.

    Our only priorities for this season were the PL, because all 20 teams should, and the CL because we're defending champions. If we win the FA Cup, it'll be nice but I won't be heartbroken if we don't.

    With the exception of Chelsea and Arsenal, at least a team that normally wouldn't normally win anything can go for something. I mean that in the nicest way possible - that's the romance of the FA Cup - and I wish every team good luck, especially Hull, Everton, Burnley and Coventry.

  • Comment number 85.


    How can you say united won't be "great" if they don't retain the ECL...

    No one has managed this ever. Not the ECL. I wouldn't say that would be just "great" personally, it would be amazing, unprecendented and brilliant.

    United are a great side whether they win the quad, quint or whatever. If they manage the latter, they're way, way more than a great side.

    They will be very unique.

    We will see if they have the character to pull it off. Because I think it'll take character more than anything else.

  • Comment number 86.

    I really hope that the 5 trophies can take pride of place in the OT trophy cabinet but I think that only 3 or maybe 4 will be back at OT this summer, The World Champions Cup, The Carling Cup, The Barclays Premiership and possibly the FA Cup but that depends on the draw as does the UEFA Champions league. I think that the Champions League will either be heading to The Allianz Arena in Munich, Anfield in Liverpool or possibly OT but I would make Liverpool the favorites because they have nothing else to play for
    and they always have been a 1 tournament team, and I just have a feeling about Bayern. But 3/4 trophies is an amazing season and if the cherry on top was the best tournament in the world then so be it, Glory Glory Man Utd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    is it possiable to win 5 well yes it is but OMG its going to be tough.

    we have won 3 trophies this 2008 - 2009 season.

    charity shield
    wold club
    league cup.

    looks like we will win the Pl - 7 up 1 game in hand we win that then its 10 up, it means liverpool have to win 4 and united loose 4. i can not see that happening

    The CL too close to call

    the FA United have their ups and downs in this.

    there is 1 thing you all can agree on, 5/6 tropihies in 1 season wont be easy to match or copy.

  • Comment number 88.

    "Furthermore, the team
    United fielded agst Inter did not contain as many British Isle players as you seem to think."

    There were more British Isle players in the United team than Italians in the Inter team.

    A lot of bitterness. I remember that Chelsea were in for the quad last year but managed to complete an unprecedented runners up treble. The Carling cup was a big relief for me with that in mind lol.

  • Comment number 89.

    .. Lennon needs to work on his last ball, definitely.

    There are nine players who will ensure Man U get far in the remaining cup competitions and secure the PL - Carrick, Berbatov, Ronaldo, Vidic, Rooney, Ferdinand, VDS, Evra and Giggs.

    The four key players here are Carrick, Berbatov and Ronaldo with Vidic at the back.

    No-one reads the game better and they are all of the same ilk and they are, therefore, potent beyond belief when playing together.

    I said it before the season and I'll say it again, and again, and again:

    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic
    Carrick, Berba, Ronaoldo, Vidic

    Unbeatable. You watch.

  • Comment number 90.

    73. At 12:15pm on 02 Mar 2009, NikosBg wrote:

    "Evans and o'Shea are two awful defenders at this level. Championship standard at best."

    They didn't do bad at keeping out the best team in Italy did they?

  • Comment number 91.

    If United won 5 Trophies this year. I think it would be a fitting time for Fergie to retire. Great end to a great career.

  • Comment number 92.

    65. At 11:42am on 02 Mar 2009, Frelnik wrote:

    "It just goes to show how ineffective the rest of the EPL has been this year that Man United have been able to manufacture a lead at the top of the table."

    I must be the only person to agree with you.

    Aston Villa are a side with no established world class players in its ranks, that unsurprisingly has been outplayed by 2nd tier European teams on a regular basis. The fact that come March it lies 3 points off 2nd place says it all about the standard of the league trumpeting itself as the best in the world.

    Top sides struggling week in week out against poor opposition. And when they don't slip up it's usually fortunate and unconvincing 1-0 scrapes than masterful displays.

    It may have a lot to do with the credit crunch and the way it has hit their owners. Chelsea bring in Serie A and La Liga rejects. United bring in Serbian/Brazilian unknowns and renew contracts of 35-year-olds.

    My view since early on this season has been that this must be the worst state at the top of the Premier League for a long time. This stems from the lack of quality players in the squads and ensuing weaknesses in certain areas, which are duly reflected in their performances on the pitch.

  • Comment number 93.

    'How exactly was the referee on United's side yesterday? If he was then surely United would have had a penalty and Ronaldo would not have had a yellow card.'

    I agree with Phil regarding the 'penalty' incident. Ronaldo was already on the way down and King made no difference to this - it wasn't a dive although there was a nice twist added by Ronaldo at the end, to add emphasis! But the O'Shea non-sending off? Of this there could be no debate - the ball was nowhere near when he clearly took the Spurs player. 10 players against 11? Who knows what could have happened then, but it would have changed everything that followed on. The referee bottled it!

  • Comment number 94.

    All this is newspaper spin, if United end the season, with just the Premiership and League Cup, (as well as World Club Cup and Charity Shield) it is almost as if it would be viewed as a failure...

    Only one thing matters this season, and that is if we win the league Fergie would have done what he set out to do, and knocked the Scousers off their perch... (though they are doing a good job of that themselves)

  • Comment number 95.

    I can't see Man United winning the CL, as there are so many strong teams left in the competition, a score draw with Inter is highly probable, never mind what awaits them further down the line.

    What's disappointing for me this season, is the mid-season mediocrity of Chelsea and Liverpool. It's almost like Man U have been handed the PL this season, unlike last season where they won it with some fantastic football that meant I was happy for them when they won the title. I guess you have to respect the clean sheet record, the 1-0 victories that are always said to be "characteristic of champions", but after the excitement of last seasons title race, this season has been a bit of a letdown, or maybe I'm just feeling a bit of football burnout from the Euros.

    As for all this clean sweep/quintuple nonsense I agree with #35, you either include the Super Cup and WCC or exclude them both. I think the same goes for the Community Shield. They don't really feel like proper competitions, more like exhibition matches, as they are one or two game events that relate to prior year success (though technically CL relates to prior year success, but there are a lot more games in this season). So either you're going for the clean sweep quadruple or the non-clean sweep sextuple :)

    Anyway my predictions for this season, for whatever they are worth:

    PL - Man United (Reality)
    CL - Chelsea (Destiny)
    FA Cup - Middlesbrough (Fantasy)

    I wish you good luck in your quest for a quadruple/sextuple!

    NB: Yes I am a Boro fan :)

  • Comment number 96.

    NikosBg wrote:

    Evans and o'Shea are two awful defenders at this level. Championship standard at best.


    Well if league leaders Inter couldn't get past two defenders who are "championship standard at best" during 90 mins in the San Siro, I would be very worried about the state of Italian football.

  • Comment number 97.

    JimTheMason wrote:
    I don't support Manchester United, but I think, for the neutral, it is terrific to see them doing so well. United are not as much a part of what is wrong with the modern game as other teams e.g. Chelsea, because:

    1. Their money is mostly earned (directly or indirectly) through football, not just "given" to the club e.g. Chelsea, Manchester City.

    2. They have a strong commitment to developing British Isles players and staff, which is good for the British Isles.

    3. Their manager and many of their players have had a long and dedicated tenure at the club.

    So I won't tire of seeing Manchester United winning stuff if they hold true to these values.


    couldnt say it better! fantastic comment. the reason why im a true united supporter, as well as having lived there, is for the reasons stated by JimTheMason

    we deserve, hands down, to win everything this season because there is not a single team that has even come close to competing with us


  • Comment number 98.

    Ferguson is right to say it's just a media thing.

    The big question is Why do the media keep asking Man United players and staff about it?

    They are taking each game as it comes and seeing where it takes them at the end of the season. Obviously.

    And the media are just as obviously taking each game as part of a bigger story they've already written. All that remains to see is which version of that bigger story they get to trot out.

  • Comment number 99.

    80. At 12:30pm on 02 Mar 2009, richthehammer wrote:

    "They are dominating the...European and World football"

    Reaching a European final, and winning it in penalties, ONCE after 10 years (which in turn was won in equally unconvincing fashion and 30 years after your previous final) does not constitute "domination" in any shape or form.

    You need much more than that to be considered "dominant".

  • Comment number 100.

    14. At 08:46am on 02 Mar 2009, Roger_the_Pessimist wrote:

    "I can't help thinking that the EPL is incredibly weak at the moment...And yet the midweek CL results suggest that it's streets ahead of the other European leagues."

    I agree that the EPL is incredibly weak. If you watched all the matches or even extended highlights, you would have seen that: United were better than Inter although not dominant as Inter had the better of the entire 2nd half - Arsenal were way better than Roma who are 6th in Serie A - Juve had the edge over Chelsea away from home although not much in it - and Liverpool were on the back foot and in their own half for the entire game and did not create anywhere near enough to deserve a goal.

    The above do not suggest "streets ahead" by any means.


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