Here’s a straight question that demands a straight answer. Has Sir Alex Ferguson ever been known to hoist the white flag of surrender in his near 25 years at Old Trafford? Of course not, never has, never will. If you listen to some of the media pundits however you will come away with the firm opinion that United may as well field reserve teams in their five remaining Premier League matches because Fergie has already handed the title to Chelsea after his side’s 1-2 defeat on Saturday.
The headlines screamed “Sir Alex Ferguson has all but conceded the title” yet what Ferguson actually said, quite correctly, after that game was simply that “Chelsea are definitely the favourites now, no question. They are in the driving seat. I’m certain we’ll respond but we could win all five of our games now and still not win the title. They have a better goal difference so they’re in a great position” Does that sound like a man who has conceded the race or was Ferguson giving nothing more than a precise analysis of the true position as it stands?
It would have been impossible for him to say otherwise with a straight face. Yes, Chelsea ARE in a great position, they DO have a better goal difference, they clearly LEAD the table by two points and they cannot possibly be regarded as anything but FAVOURITES.
But for goodness sake, the above statement cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as him giving up the chase!
The fact is that while it is possible, it’s unlikely that either club will take all the 15 points that are still on offer. Five always tough, tricky fixtures have yet to be won and while it’s easily said, the truth is that it’s far from done. As has been repeatedly shown throughout the season, points can unexpectedly be dropped anywhere to anyone. The extra pressure of having the winning post within sight, may prove to be a far more difficult hurdle to overcome than anyone can imagine.
A look at the remaining fixtures for all three contenders will show that they each have to twice face clubs who are desperately fighting for the lucrative fourth spot behind them. The other opponents involved can also prove to be banana skins for each of the title challengers and should just one of those games result in the loss of a mere two points, all expectations will completely change.
Does that sound like a scenario which justifies the statement that – Sir Alex Ferguson has all but conceded the title – as was reported in much of the media? Far from it. Yes, it was an admittedly poor first half performance by United, yes, Chelsea did establish a two point break and yes, Arsenal are now lurking just one point behind but this is the Premier League title that we’re talking about. It cannot be expected to be won easily but neither can it be expected to be surrendered without a fight.
You can rest assured that Sir Alex will be in no mood to relinquish the trophy just yet because as Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti quite rightly said after the game “We are happy but nothing is decided” whatever the media tries to tells you.
Is the race still on or has Chelsea already won the title?