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Joe Strange - Ferguson handed Chelsea the title

Published: 10 May 2010 - 13:20:55

So that's it then. After 380 games, bucket-loads of goals and more than its fair share of drama, another Premier League season has drawn to a close.

With the relegation battle wrapped up and the fight for fourth place now a thing of the past, Sunday's fixtures centred on the big one - the Premier League title.

The race for the title has come down to the final day on a handful of occasions since the league's inception in 1992, but yesterday provided a somewhat disappointing anticlimax.

Not because Chelsea won it, but because the league failed to finish in the manner we've all become accustomed to this season.

The past nine months have thrown up so many shocks and unpredictable results that Wigan getting something at Stamford Bridge yesterday didn't seem entirely unreasonable.

Despite their abysmal away record of 14 defeats from 19 away trips, Roberto Martinez's men are capable of an upset - as they've proved with wins over Chelsea and Arsenal this term.

The football romantics and all Manchester United fans were hoping that Mario Melchiot and co would at least put up a fight in West London, even if just to delay the seemingly inevitable.

Instead they rolled over and died, allowing a rampant Chelsea side to record their biggest victory of the season and clinch their third Premier League crown.

And although Blues' boss Carlo Ancelotti deserves a huge amount of praise for winning the league in his first season in England, there's one man who should really take the plaudits for returning the trophy to SW6.

Not Frank Lampard, not Didier Drogba, not even Roman Abramovich.

The man in question? Sir Alex Ferguson.

With the league decided by just a single point, United were not far off securing a record-breaking fourth consecutive title.

But while Fergie grabbed a microphone and praised his players' efforts following their 4-0 home win over Stoke City yesterday afternoon, he might be wise to look a little closer to home for the reasons behind his side's recent failings.

When Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid last summer, it seemed like a deal to suit everyone involved. Ronnie wanted to leave for Madrid, Real had the money to buy him and United got £80 million.

But if Fergie had kept hold of his star man then there's no doubt that it would have been they, and not Chelsea, lifting the Premier League trophy on Sunday evening.

Ronaldo's departure may have allowed Wayne Rooney the time and space to flourish this season, but the Red Devils were undoubtedly a weaker force because of it.

If keeping hold of the Portuguese winger was an impossible task, then surely replacing him was not?

Ronnie replacement, Antonio Valencia, had a solid debut season at United but his contributions paled in insignificance compared to those of Cristiano over the past few seasons.

If reports are to be believed then Ferguson had cash to spend but chose not to - a decision he may well be regretting as he reflects on a season in which Carling Cup victory was the highlight.

Take nothing away from Chelsea - Ancelotti has done a fantastic job to secure the title with virtually the same squad who had gone three years without tasting top-spot.

But with the transfer market soon upon us and rumours of incoming players increasing with every passing day, don't be surprised if it's the business of clubs off the pitch which dictates the destination of the Premier League trophy this time next year.

READ JOE STRANGE EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY MONDAY

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:joe strange
A product of Brighton University's prolific youth system, Joe Strange has boundless energy and the enviable ability to cover every blade of grass in his Monday blog. Joe has written for a variety of football websites and fanzines and is also a regular contributor to golf.co.uk. Despite being born and raised in Kent, 'Stranger' is a diehard Everton fan and counts his team's penalty shoot-out victory against Manchester United last season as his most memorable football moment. Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_strange.

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