Manchester United’s draw against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park confirmed United as the English league champions for a record 19th time. Once Phil Dowd awarded the Red Devils a 71st minute penalty there was no doubt they would get the point needed to secure the title. However, the last five minutes of ‘play’ brought back the bad memories of West Germany and Austria at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. The two neighbors contrived to see out a 1-0 win that saw both qualify while eliminating Algeria. Blackburn was content to let United have possession in the hope that the point that was good enough to see their opponents crowned champions would also help Rovers in its relegation fight. If there is such a thing as karma in soccer, Rovers will be relegated next week and one of Wigan, Wolves or Blackpool, three attacking teams will stay up.
West Ham United was relegated following a 2-3 loss at Wigan. The club owned by David Sullivan and David Gold with Karren Brady as managing director deserves to go down. The treatment of Gianfranco Zola, who last season kept the team in the Premier League and Avram Grant when pursuing Martin O’Neill as his replacement, was despicable. If ever a club owners’ and executive’s arrogance deserved to be rewarded with relegation it is them.
There has been a lot of discussion this week about the merits of Spurs, or Liverpool playing in next year’s Europa Cup. Harry Redknapp bemoaned qualification for the competition and the possibility of Spurs playing Thursday in Europe then Sunday in England. Harry, can you please explain how the Europa Cup schedule would be that much different to the Champions League schedule of a game in Europe on a Wednesday followed by a Premier League game on the Saturday?
The 1953 FA Cup Final remains one of the greatest games ever played. At 1-3 down, Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen inspired Blackpool to a 4-3 victory over Bolton Wanderers in what was to become known as the Mathews Final. How appropriate that on Cup Final Day the same two teams would repeat the scoreline in one of the games of the 2010-11 season. Matthews was one of the most attacking players ever to have graced a football field. The current Blackpool team plays in the tradition of Sir Stanley and the Premier League is all the better for them being in it.