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A season of thrills and spills, up and downs, highs and lows, all built towards a final-day climax. Sadly, there were no dramatic scenes in Manchester, as Chelsea smashed eight past Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge to clinch the title by a solitary point, rendering the result at Old Trafford meaningless – even though United produced a wholly professional display to see off Stoke 4-0.
The time for reflection and the dissection of this most unpredictable of campaigns lies ahead, but United can be proud at least that, in a difficult season hampered by injuries, the Reds pushed Chelsea right until the very last.
Sir Alex was able to select arguably his strongest team for this season finale and his men did him, and the club, proud with the performance. Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher have easily been United’s most potent central midfield pair, while they were flanked by the in-form Nani and Ryan Giggs, with Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov in attack.
Rio Ferdinand was handed a start for the first time since the 0-0 draw with Blackburn, while Gary Neville, who missed the wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland, joined him in a back four that also included Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, with Edwin van der Sar in goal.
United came out of the traps quickly, determined to keep our side of the bargain. Berbatov had the Reds’ early chances. The first came after Nani surged down the left and found Rooney, who cut the ball back for Berbatov, whose shot was blocked. Rooney again teed-up his strike-partner after ten minutes - this time a cute pass down the right channel, with Berbatov’s angled effort nudged wide by Robert Huth. Berbatov’s third opportunity was the best of the lot, a header four yards from goal from a Nani cross that the Bulgarian headed over.
Stoke come with brave defending as standard, so it was unsurprising that Huth threw his body selflessly in front of Evra’s shot midway through