On the day the Premier League trophy was lifted at Old Trafford a ruthless second half performance from Manchester United proved too much for Ian Holloway’s brave Blackpool who in defeat were condemned to relegation to the Championship.
Despite a hint of sadness for the visitors, it was still a great day at Old Trafford which culminated in Nemanja Vidic lifting the title on a day that will go down as a historic day for everyone connected with the club winning a 19th league title.
With a strong team put ot by Sir Alex Ferguson, Blackpool’s task to survive looked to have been made even tougher before the game even begun.
To be fair to the teams at the bottom and with the Barcelona game in-mind, Sir Alex made sure that the team had a strong look to it as Edwin Van der Sar as expected skippered the side in his final Premier League appearance for the club.
The Tangerines though, have been a breath of fresh air to the division this year and started the game with the attacking attitude that has won them so many plaudits this season. It’s no wonder when you consider that they have become the ‘neutrals’ favourite team.
Inside the first minute Blackpool really should have gone ahead. Charlie Adam’s cross back into the penalty area finding Keith Southern, but the midfielder could only drag his shot wide. It was a close-call for United.
Adam was impressing early on and a great low cross into the box almost saw Gary Taylor-Fletcher stab the ball home, but the ball was just out of reach for the forward just as it was for Van der Sar as it shot across the goal.
Down at the other end, United roared on by the crowd pushed forward. Matt Gilks did well to save from Rafael da Silva, before stopping Dimitar Berbatov from scoring from inside the area. Gilks though was powerless moments later as he was finally beaten.
Good play in midfield presented Berbatov into space. The Bulgarian delicately released a pass for Park Ji-Sung who did well to hold of Ian Evatt before lifting it in past Gilks to score. It was the Korean’s eighth goal of the season and another one which proved his worth to the cause.
Gilks then did well to make a block to deny Berbatov from getting the goal that his early play deserved before Blackpool hit forward to earn a freekick after Vidic was adjudged to have fouled Taylor-Fletcher around 25 yards out.
The Tangerines Talisman Adam stepped up and powerfully struck the freekick past Van der Sar via the help of the post much to the joy of Blackpool’s supporters all huddled together in the East Stand.
It was a terrific strike from the Scottish midfielder who is tipped for a big move away from Bloomfield Road in the summer. Several clubs including Aston Villa, Liverpool and Spurs are all interested in Adam. Could a United move also be on the card perhaps?
After half-time Adam forced Van der Sar into a save from another freekick, stinging the Dutchman’s gloves with a powerful strike. Not long after that Blackpool surprisingly took the lead which at the time lifted them out of the relegation places and seemingly on their way to safety.
David Vaughan did well to find space out on the right before finding Taylor-Fletcher whose close-range effort bounced in off the post to send Blackpool’s supporters into dreamland. Sadly for Holloway’s men, their lead didn’t last long as Anderson coolly drove home Park’s cross to score. It was the Brazilian’s first league goal of the season and his fourth overall.
Park was taken off seconds after the goal with Michael Owen coming on as United moved up a couple of gears to try and force a winner. With the game opening up, United predictably took control. Gilks did well to save a Berbatov header at the back post before Nani somehow headed a Chris Smalling cross wide when it seemed harder to miss.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, United’s pressure told as Evatt somewhat cruelly divert Smalling’s cross into his own goal. Going behind for the second time in the match seemingly killed of Blackpool for good as it became clear with other results not going for them, that they would indeed be heading for relegation.
Owen made it 4-2 with nine minutes remaining, coolly finishing of Anderson’s neat pass in midfield to score his fifth goal of the season. It could well be the former England striker’s final telling contribution in a Red shirt and if as expected he is not offered a new contract next season, it was a nice way for him to end his league career with the club.
In the dying minutes, Blackpool valiantly pushed forward to score one more goal of what has been a memorable season for their fans but after Van der Sar saved from Adam, Luke Varney’s header came back off the bar.
Probably as a result of the hunger and heart that Blackpool’s players have shown all season, they were rightly applauded off the ground by the Old Trafford faithful as was Holloway. But for United though, it was their time to celebrate and lift the trophy and look even more forward to Saturday’s epic Champions League final at Wembley where Barcelona lie in waiting.
Star Man: Whilst probably Adam’s performance for Blackpool caught the eye giving what was riding on the line for Blackpool, Anderson just about was United’s best player on the pitch. His all-action display was capped with a derserved goal which could possibly tempt Sir Alex into giving our number eight a starting place against Barcelona next week.
By Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87