The EPL Climax: It's Man on Top Again

Saif Syed OmarCorrespondent IMay 16, 2009

The title of the article may sound like that of an amorous novel if not an erotic magazine or an excerpt from a porno weekly. Just to dispel all fears, this one requires no parental guidance or discretion on the part of the readers, far from it.

The only ball that will be discussed below will be Football.

The Climax in question is the 'squeaky bum time' that just went by, the Men in this context will be our beloved footballers, the ones using their legs, heads and sometime heads to control the ball, the football that is, and the only arse discussed being that of the gunners and Champagne being the only oozing fluid of concern to us.


The Foreplay... Or you could call it the prelude instead...

It has been a long and gruelling season, full of highs and lows if not 'Ohhhhs' and 'Aaaahhhhs' and other sounds and emotions not even remotely related to Football.

The fans have stood by their teams during this long time, going through the joy and pain themselves, staying up morn and night, giving up on stuff that they would have otherwise done.

As a Manchester United fan, the season has been brilliant so far, and it was a medley of sorts to watch Arsenal being held by ManUtd to clinch the title, yes,the same Man who's on top as the title says.


The Climax

"Thank God!!! We made it" - that was the first thought that came to my mind. I'm not one in the bandwagon of optimists, and can be their staunchest critic at times. I was at the edge of my seat through out the game though my team never were really threatened, albeit they didn't do too much themselves at the other end either.

Nerve wrenching? Well, not this one. The United fans might be the ones biting their nails, but for a neutral, this was one to forget. Neither team can take credit for having dominated the game.

Well the arsenal fans would like to point out that they enjoyed the lion's share of possession and made Old Trafford seem like the Emirates. But the fact of the matter is that both teams rarely looked liked they would score.

Van Der Sar can take pride in saying that his were the warmer pair of gloves where as Fabianski was a spectator all noon. I wish I could brand this game as a game of two halves, because it was not.

Both halves were bland and dour like a documentary on Global warming. And yes, talking of the weather, the weather Gods did try to play their part to spice up the script, it rained and it shined, but nothing could deter our resilient warriors. They were bent upon keeping the fans waiting and nail-biting, till they had no more to chew on.

Talking of rain, it was a torrential downpour of yellow cards as well, for rather silly challenges, Patrice Evra being the common factor of them all. But neither could that spur our boys on. It continued as it had been since the start, boring and only boring.

However, the men in Red held on to a scoreless draw, earning the point they needed to seal the deal. United have been on the ascendancy since they regained the title from the clutches of Chelsea back in 2006-07. But there is a sea of difference between the team that was and now is.

For starters, United won the 2006-'07 season without having the depth that they can now boast of. Though 2006-'07 seemed big because the trophy returned to Old Trafford after a barren spell, this season is special in its own way.

It is no mean feat for a team to be away to clinch the World Club Championship in the middle of the domestic season, get back to find themselves behind, and then claw their way back to the summit.

One thing though that has not changed is the hunger of the team for success. This season, without a doubt was won on the foundation laid by a strong backline. Unlike the '06-'07 season, the defense came out on top, the nominations for the Player of the year speak tons towards that cause.

While it was the attacking prowess of United that stood out on the previous two occasions, this season's success can be credited to the different combinations of the back four, probably five: VDS, Rio, Vida, Evans, Sheasy, Rafael, Patrice and Neville being a part of that group.

The attackers and the play-makers, managed to keep United in the hunt for glory by firing at crucial times, Mourinho's Chelsea style 1-0s were the order of the day. From Tevez, Rooney and Ronny to Scholsey, Giggsy, Fletch and Carrick, each one made contributions at important times.

The new kids on the block had their little bit to do as well, to highlight the fact that kids at United could play as well, and more importantly, win. Danny, Kiko, Gibson and Rafael being notable figures.

This season will be remembered for the professional demeanour of United's display. There has been an evident improvement in the team's maturity without having lost the youthful exuberance and hunger for winning.

This season, it was United the Champions defending their pride, rather than the title hopefuls of the 06-07 season. If it was United's desperation to regain lost glory in '06-'07, it was the maturity and sensibility to retain their prized asset that saw them through this time around.

It is tight rope walk, the mix of experience and youth. One can probably buy them both but building a winning team using a judicious mix of the two is a different ball game in itself.


The Actors

As far as the title race and the competition is concerned, this season did pop up a few surprises for us, one in the form of Liverpool's rise, and the other being the downfall of Big Two from London.

Liverpool fans will be the happier lot, seeing a title push from their side after a while. The effort, though worthy of a shout, is still some way from a title winning shot. Liverpool are still too very dependant on certain individuals, taking names is a no-brainer.

Though Rafa has done a decent job with the resources at hand, the strength in depth is still lacking to challenge for the top prize. It is more to do with boardroom battle rather than the dressing room's strategy.

Until Liverpool improve on their depth in the squad, it will always be the case of "either-or", the Premier League and the UCL being the two components.

The double over Manchester United and Chelsea might be something to cheer about for the fans. I could imagine that being used by the scousers till they get their hand on some silverware. Well, you may have won the battle here, but you know who won the War.

Chelsea will have some introspection to do as well as some head-hunting for the top job unless Guus decides to stay. The basic fragment of the Chelsea side is still intact, with strong personnel in the middle of the park, but the defense and the attackers is an area they will want to re-think on.

And as for Arsenal, we all love their game, I doubt if anybody will ever deny that if not flaunt and vaunt of it, but playing pretty is not equivalent to winning. The gunners will have to add some gunpowder to their cannons if they are to stand any chance of getting back to their good old days.

Their fans will be more than relieved not to have fallen behind Villa who gave them a real scare for the top four finish.

For United, a fourth in a row would be a big ask, though I'm not writing them off. At the beginning of the season, many would have doubted their credibility to win a third on the trot with an unwelcome distraction in the form of the World Club Championship.

If they can repeat the feat in the UCL, they will truly stamp their authority as a side that can not only play well but also win in the process. Till then, it is time to recline, retrospect and revel in this victory and enjoy that champagne.


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