Sergio Aguero had other plans, however. The little Argentine stunned the football world with his last-gasp winner against QPR, snatching the Premier League title from under Manchester United’s noses.
But United have responded magnificently this season, and with a 15 point lead at the top of the table, are seemingly strolling to the Premier League title. So the question has to be asked – is this the easiest title Manchester United will ever/have ever won in their entire history?
United won their first league title back in 1907/08 and haven’t looked back since, winning game after game under a small minority of managers, in comparison to many of their rivals.
Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at the club and has become synonymous with trophies, presiding over has to be considered their most successful period as a club since their formation.
But to find out if this year’s almost inevitable title success is a contender for the easiest under the reign of Sir Alex, you have to look past just the difference in points which separate United from the other clubs within the top four.
Of course, even though it seems likely that the Red Devils will triumph again this season, they still have nine games left to play, and three of those are potentially tricky encounters against Chelsea, Arsenal and their ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City on Monday night.
There could also be a potential slip-up against Premier League strugglers Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, which could spark a dramatic loss in form comparable to last season’s title collapse. United must be wary of a repeat of last season, but is it conceivable that United could lose the title by the narrowest of margins again?
If United do win the league with a gap of 15 points, it would not be their biggest victory in the Premier League. That came under arguably their greatest ever manager, Sir Matt Busby.
The ‘Busby Babes’ clinched the title with a huge 16 points difference over second place Blackpool. However, Ferguson was able to top that amount in the 1999/00 season, when United won the league by 18 points, beating Arsenal to the title. United could stretch their lead at the summit to 18 points with a win over City on Monday night, but maintaining it for the remainder of the season is another thing.
The strength of other Premier League teams must also be taken into account. During the 2007/08 season, the gap between the top three teams was four points, meaning everything was a lot closer, just how the neutral would prefer it. In that season, Liverpool were also in close contention and were even closer the following season, losing out by only four points. Does this mean that top clubs in England are weakening, or are Manchester United dominating the due to their apparent strength in depth throughout their squad?
Personally, I believe the former. Last season, while United and City battled it out to clinch the title in the tightest of finishes, Arsenal finished 19 points behind, Chelsea were 25, and Liverpool were a huge 37. So due to the shortcomings of teams around them, United capitalised and are now appearing to reap the rewards of their dominance this season.
Is this United’s easiest title win ever? For me, yes. The teams they have come up against have been brushed aside by Ferguson’s men - they have played against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and City and won all five games against so called ‘top-class’ opposition, being as ruthless as they are fantastic.
Only Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham Hotspur have thwarted United’s attempts to win the league in a more emphatic fashion, after beating them at Old Trafford in a close-fought contest dictated by Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale.
United haven’t made things easy for themselves either, especially at the beginning of the season, and have relied on Dutch forward Robin van Persie to grab them points at the death, even when it seems most unlikely.
In that dominating 1999/00 season, United drew seven matches and lost three games, whereas they have lost three games but only drawn two. If United win their remaining fixtures, they will have set the highest points tally for a Premier League season, beating Chelsea’s record of 95.
Barring any last-minute jitters and another end-of-season collapse, United will stroll to their 20th league title. Given how far ahead Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are, it’s hard to see them having such an easy title-winning Premier League campaign in the near future.
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