Old Trafford was an oasis largely because these folks decided to grow up
Chicharito “Sweet Pea” Hernandez successfully milked his moment for the penalty against Blackburn giving them the crucial point they craved for their record 19th title. It came as great relief for a side frequently out of depth on the road.
The players themselves will have no quibble with the fact that this successful season had Sir Alex’s imprimatur all over it. He did it being one step ahead of his peers. Sweet Pea’s signing is the culmination of a canny pursuit launched in the Mexican heartland well before pundits were raving about his World Cup debut.
No manager has a better sense of his squad’s attributes or demonstrated a surer touch with tactical decisions. It is one thing having the depth which Utd enjoys and quite another knowing what to do with it. As an example, Ryan Giggs second half introduction changed everything when Blackpool were two goals up. One can point to Sir Alex’s hand in Wayne Rooney’s evolution as a complete footballer employing him in the slot or out on the wing. The former Everton man is not the goalscoring machine he was but he’s the catalyst for almost every attack.
Part of this success lay in converting Old Trafford into a fortress that could not be breached while chalking up an indifferent away record. That calculus cost them just a day’s slippage in the leader table. It is at home the side seems to have rediscovered clarity of purpose. An outcome influenced in no small measure by fans showing up to cheer on their team and not to engage in political posturing.
Last season’s Tea Party version of Utd football were notably missing. The Gold and Green spawn made the Glazers ownership an issue as Old Trafford took centrestage in their bitter and vociferous histrionics. The consortium behind the takeover portrayed a club in dire financial straits with a promise to return to a debt free Newton Heath standard. Ideology triumphed pragmatism. Their faithful foot soldiers numbering 10,000 provided the optics of a burgeoning revolt. The Gold and Green adopted “Love Man Utd, Hate the Glazers” as a unifying cry aimed at recruiting those dismayed by a club living beyond their means. It however bitterly divided fans who took to every public and social forum to air their opinions.
The discord spilled over to the team. Sir Alex, a manager famous for studiously maintaining a firewall between ownership and the locker room was forced into a statement supporting the Glazers. Rooney enjoying an unstoppable season took the opposite tack to the unceasing delight of those supporting the takeover. These divisions might have caused a temporary loss of focus as Utd who lost last season by a point to Chelsea on the last day could have cleared that hurdle en route to dropping eight points at Old Trafford.
Despite all the vulnerability this season the title came uncontested – aided and abetted by an unblemished home record. Having 65,000 fans on your side is a plus. A more quantitative analysis will establish Manchester Disunited as a statistically significant factor to explain variance in a successful season. For each title won and each Chicharito signed, there is less and less reason to push the Glazers out.