No Premiership season has ever seen the top two teams level on points going into the final game. And it feels great doesn’t it? Not only have we stuck in there, but we’ve also caught the leaders up, and now Chelsea are agonisingly close to third Premiership crown. Following the side down the years you used to have to dream about what it could be like. Imagine. Going to the final game, having a chance to win it. We’ve had to imagine what it would be like, to be involved in a title race to the wire, for years (you know, a bit like Spurs and Liverpool fans do now). Now we’re in there, in with a shout, and it promises to be one of the most exciting climaxes in the top flight’s history.Last weekends results certainly didn’t do us any favours. West Ham’s comedy attempts at defending meant Man U didn’t even have to find second gear to claim the win. All tension quickly evaporated in the opening minutes when McCartney backtracked faster than Gordon Brown and the 10p tax debate. Go on my son, have a shot. Curbs avoided the heat of the post-match press conference; he might have wanted to avoid questions of throwing United the game but it’s more likely he was embarrassed at his side’s ineptitude. Furthermore, Wigan won at a Europe-chasing Villa, meaning they have no extra incentive on Sunday. More happily, the same can be said of Bolton, now basically guaranteed their Premiership status.
There are a few questions of integrity going into the last game but I’m sure Wigan and Bolton won’t be holding back. A few Manure fans claim Bolton would be pleased to rollover but when have the Trotters been anything but dogged and difficult? Same as on Sunday I think. Likewise the Bruce connection means nothing. Wigan hate United as much as the rest of us and the home fans won’t stand for anything less but total commitment. All we can do is hope there’s a twist left. It certainly beats being nervous that your team might blow it.
If we don’t do enough to sneak the title on Sunday it won’t have been due to a lack of effort and character from the team. We can be proud whatever the outcome. However if United lose it they’ll be the laughing stock. A hefty points lead thrown away on the last day? That’s pressure. United fans seem to think the title is already in the bag but, as long as the game stays tight, anything can happen. That fat lady is still warming her vocal chords up. The Wigan surface is akin to a field, the flair players will be playing for the shop window and Heskey is a handful for any centre half. Not an easy place to go and the win is far from a formality. But United always turn up at the big games? They were missing in the memorial derby, lacklustre against Arsenal, clinging on with Barca and well beaten by the Blues.
Man U could drop points but we need to make sure we do the job first and foremost. The players, the fans, the manager are in it together and need to get the win or it’s over before it’s even begun. The excellent second half display against Newcastle showed a calm authority and determination to get the three points. We have a tough job to do against Bolton but there is a steeliness to the side at the minute that makes you think Chelsea will win no matter what.
It’s doubtful that the last day will be uneventful, with no twists or turns in the race for the title. It promises to be nerve-wracking. Football has a funny habit of doing unpredictable things and that’s why we love it. Fingers crossed that Sunday is one of those days.