Man U wins Premier League title

United won its ninth Premier League title and 16th overall on Sunday with two games to go after two-time defending champion Chelsea was held to a 1-1 draw.

updated: May 09, 2007 18:21 IST
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Manchester United's titles have come at an impressive rate in the last 15 years or so.

The latest one could be even more satisfying than the previous 19.

United won its ninth Premier League title and 16th overall on Sunday with two games to go after two-time defending champion Chelsea was held to a 1-1 draw at Arsenal.

"Over the last two years, Chelsea has dominated the Premier League. And yes, we had a big job to do to catch up with them," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "The key was having a good start to the season and trying to stay with them. And I think we did that very well."

During United's reign as perennial champion throughout much of the 1990s and into the 21st century, the team was hated by many for being a big-spending club that hoarded top players.

That's a description that now suits Chelsea, which ended a 50-year title drought in 2005 and then added another last year.

"It's not easy in the Premier League to keep a lead, knowing that Chelsea are on your coattails all the time," said Ferguson, who has had to overcome injuries to his team all season. "At one point, we had eight players injured and we don't have as big a squad as Chelsea. But credit to the 13 or 14 players who dug it out every week for us, getting the results."

Ferguson has now won 20 major trophies in his 20 years at United, and the 65-year-old Scot could add another on May 19 when his team faces Chelsea in the English FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

"I'm certainly looking forward to the cup final," Ferguson said. "We have a great history in the FA Cup. We won more times than anyone, and I can't think of a better final than our main opponent Chelsea. It will be a fantastic final, two great teams."

United has won the FA Cup 11 times in its history, five of those under Ferguson.

The season, United won the league title with a mix of veterans and young players - and an American owner.

Ryan Giggs, who has been with Ferguson for all nine Premier League titles, has continued to perform along with Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. Scholes and Neville have won seven league titles each.

The young side of the team starts with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the addition of midfielder Michael Carrick from Tottenham in the offseason.

When American businessman Malcolm Glazer and his sons took over two years ago, fans thought they would stop buying expensive players because of the team's debt. But the 16.8 million pounds ($32 million; euro25 million) spent on Carrick alone last year proved that wrong.

And this year's league title, the first since 2003 for United, will also somewhat ease the pain Wednesday's Champions League exit.

"I used to always have an obsession about winning in Europe and I think that's been overtaken by the demand of the Premier League," said Ferguson, who led United to the 1999 Champions League title. "I think it's the highest league in Europe now and to win it is a big, big achievement.

"So I suppose it was a priority, but I wish we'd just got to the final in Athens, I must say."

A repeat of the 1999 treble may be lost, but a league and cup double is still a possibility.

But for Ferguson, who only watched the final 15 minutes of Chelsea's match Sunday, another double is already secure.

"I went to see my grandson playing in a league decider today, and they won their league and we won our league, so it's a great double today," Ferguson said.