“Play For The Shirt, Lads”

A season of fantastic highs and occasional lows essentially came to an end on Sunday with Chelsea’s draw at the Arsenal confirming Manchester United as the champions of England for a ninth time in the Premiership. Manchester United fans all around the world deserve to shout it out loud and truly revel in this moment because this has been a well earned success when few outside Man United actually predicted it. The ‘special one’ himself at various times in the season predicted that the table was false and that his Chelsea team would eventually topple United from the top and eventually win the league. They got close on a few occasions especially when our injury list got longer, and I actually believe that if we had been removed from top spot, Chelsea would have gone on to win the league. That they didn’t says an awful lot for our players, the ones that get the headlines and the ones that do not. I’m speaking specifically here of Darren Fletcher, who I have been critical of in the past but who, even I will admit, has risen to the challenge in recent weeks. Such players may not be first team material on a week in week out basis and there were times I wondered why we kept such average players around even for the bench. The fact that we did shows why Alex Ferguson is the manager and I am not. We built a team mentality that was not based on superstars in every role, but was instead based on players playing for the shirt whenever and wherever they were required.  You do not need twenty two headline grabbers!

Some might say we were lucky, some stop short of admitting that the team at the top of the league at the end of the season deserves to be there. A full squad of multi million pound players will get you so far, then when time comes for others to come in those same players will get you grief because they are not playing every week. It seems that players like this talk all the talk about playing for the team but don’t actually live up to it. Players like this are ones that decide to go back to their home land on flimsy excuses because they have failed to set the Premiership alight. Next thing you know they have been loaned to other clubs and eventually will be permanently transferred on the quiet. Manchester United have had those players as well, but importantly, I don’t think we have had any of them this season, because I don’t think we’d have won the league if we had any of those types. There are rumours now about Sir Alex Ferguson becoming irritated by Saha’s injury saga, maybe he could have played, maybe he couldn’t, maybe he will be out of the club in summer, and maybe he won’t. Either way for the early part of the season when we needed him he was there so yes, he played his part. John O’Shea and Darren Fletcher to me embody the idea of the average footballer, filling a hole when necessary. In times gone by I have been guilty of growing incredibly fed up with these players but in one or two games in particular both of these players have shown their mettle to come in and give true performances for the shirt of Manchester United. “Are they the best we can do?” I would ask as I slumped back in my chair, I was missing the point. They are not the best, but they do all that you ask of them when necessary. At times during this season when injuries hit or results didn’t go our way it was possible that we would just slide away and allow Chelsea to reign. The second string of players allowed us to keep the dream alive and a quick peep at the table will show you it was all worth it.

I hope I think I know that it was, the league goes to the best team every season and this one was no exception. We have games left, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will be interesting and I cannot wait to attend the party at Old Trafford next Saturday. The Masterplan has worked; we’ve got our trophy back!

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Author: SM

I am a writer of words. I write for Man United publications such as Red News, Its Round and Its White and I am the founder of Given to Score and the Sportmonkey Blog. I have written for many music websites.

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