For months it has been a case of when rather than if, and on Monday night the inevitable happened. A 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford confirmed Manchester United’s superiority over Manchester City, Chelsea and the rest of the chasing pack as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were crowned English champions for a record 20th time.
In a season where they have been head and shoulders above the competition, the title was finally clinched with four games to spare thanks to a Robin van Persie hat-trick inside 35 minutes that meant it was party time at Old Trafford.
With even City manager Roberto Mancini admitting that United are worthy champions, Ferguson was left to toast his 13th Premier League title, 20 years after his first ended United’s 26-year wait.
“They focused on the challenge of City and came up trumps,” said Ferguson. “Our consistency for the last 20 years is unbelievable. This club never gives in. From Sir Matt Busby, the Munich Disaster, to rebuilding and to win the European Cup, that tells you the history of United. Every player who comes to this club has to have that engrained. We have lived up to the expectation.
“What the players had to do was focus on how we lost the league last year and make no mistakes. The focus was good. The one thing I said to them was don’t lose on inferior goal difference. We’d never had that before at this club and this season we have corrected that.”
Quick to dismiss the notion that this United vintage is below the standards of previous sides – “It’s dead easy to say that, nostalgia plays tricks on people’s minds” – Ferguson now wants to break Chelsea’s record Premier League points haul of 95.
To do so, United must win at Arsenal and West Brom as well as home to Chelsea and Swansea, and the Scot is confident his side can achieve it.
“Put it in context, we’ve now got 84 points with four games left. We’ve never done that. How many times have Manchester United won four games in a row? We can definitely do it.”
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Manchester City’s remaining fixtures see them host West Ham, West Brom and Norwich, while they travel to Swansea and Reading.