Saturday, May 16, 2009

Number 18

It's all over. Manchester United are Premier League Champions for the 3rd year running, and a record equalling 18th time!

They weren't on particularly good form today against Arsenal but all they had to do was avoid defeat. With the game finishing goalless the title was wrapped up and the celebrations could start.

The party will be short lived though as the players start to concentrate on the Champions League final, with the small matter of wrapping up the domestic season next week at Hull City.

In eleven days time United will come up against Barcelona, and yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the European Cup Winners Cup final between the two clubs.

I still remember that campaign really well. It was the first season English clubs were allowed back into European competition after the Heysel disaster led to a five year ban, although Liverpool were banned for an additional year. United qualified thanks to winning the FA Cup the previous year, a win widely believed to have saved Alex Ferguson's job. I remember calling for Fergie's head in the late 80's, the 12 year old me convinced the guy would never bring the glory days back to Old Trafford!

We were all looking forward to a European adventure and some glamorous games against the big boys but we had to wait as the early rounds took us to Hungary, Poland as well as a quick trip over to Wrexham.

Was it a sign of things to come as United got to the final in that first year? Probably not really as it took the club a few years to finally get it right but on May 15th 1991 a 2-1 victory against Barcelona gave the club only their second ever European trophy.

This was a few years before the European Cup was revamped into the monster that is now the Champions League so there were some big names in the competition. It's a sad sign of how things have developed since then that the Cup Winners Cup no longer exists.

I had pre-match nerves before the Arsenal game today but it is nothing compared to how I'll feel on the 27th.

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