May 17th, 2009
12:12 PM ET

Ferguson looks to new challenges for Man Utd

MANCHESTER,  England - Old Trafford has never cheered a goalless draw so loudly as Manchester United’s match with Arsenal.

I was waiting outside the stadium to talk to fans and film the celebrations –- but the noise was so great that I had to check the match really had finished nil-nil.

The Manchester United Saturday team celebrate their third successive Premier League title.
The Manchester United Saturday team celebrate their third successive Premier League title.

It sounded like Manchester United had scored but 70,000 supporters were simply acclaiming the final whistle. They knew a draw with the London club was enough to clinch the Premier League title for the third year in succession.

I had to wait another 20 minutes before more than a handful of disgruntled Arsenal fans came out. United's followers were still inside, milking the trophy presentation. And why not? Of manager Alex Ferguson's 11 Premier League triumphs, this was only the second to be sealed at the stadium known as “The Theatre of Dreams.”

And never has Old Trafford's nickname seemed less appropriate. Title glory isn't a "dream" anymore. It comes around with more frequency than the local bus service.

Making the elusive process of winning major football trophies so mundane is an astonishing achievement by Ferguson, who is now the most successful manager in British football history.

Before the Arsenal game he played down the fact that United would likely equal Liverpool's record of 18 English championships. But many suspect that Ferguson does care about putting the club's local rivals in their place. And it’s the first thing the fans mentioned as I filmed their reaction when they finally streamed out of the ground.

But United's jubilant followers were also concerned. Striker Carlos Tevez seemed to wave goodbye as he was substituted during the match and many took note of how isolated he looked as the trophy was paraded around the pitch. The fans are convinced the Argentine will leave in the summer - and a lot of them would rather he stayed than Cristiano Ronaldo.

There is still a chance that both Tevez and Ronaldo will go. While that may give United's challengers hope for next season, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal know Ferguson has proved adept at replacing key players – think of Paul McGrath, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince, Eric Cantona, Jaap Stam, Peter Schmeichel, David Beckham and Roy Keane.

Ferguson is already looking ahead to new challenges and new records. If United beat Barcelona in Rome a week on Wednesday, they will be the first team to defend their Champions League title since the European Cup was renamed. Ferguson will also match Liverpool’s Bob Paisley as the most successful manager in the competition's history. And United will move within one of Liverpool's mark of five European Cups.

There’s still plenty of legend building left for Ferguson and Manchester United – one man and his club.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Frankyben

    Its is clear dat livpool is not the best term in England .Benitez shuld respect Ferguson 4 an outstandn performance .

    May 17, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  2. Tabor Etebu

    It is great to see Manutd and Fergie celebrate their win saturday, just as Barca would do on sunday. They should not forget that the only trophy missing in their cabinet is the European champion of champions cup. For this reason, they have to stop Barca by any 'means possible' as they are also treble record seekers.

    May 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  3. Segun Kolawole

    Man united definitely deserve this EPL cup, too bad C. Tevez may have to leave after working tirelessly with his teammates for this remarkable achievement, but Alex Fergie is a coach that looks at the bigger picture and no single player is going to stop him from doing things his way..ask Van Nistelrooy.

    May 18, 2009 at 2:50 am | Reply
  4. Sig Bengner

    I nominate Ronaldo for an Oscar, with his dives and arrogance, he is definately qualified to be considered for an Oscar

    May 18, 2009 at 6:25 am | Reply
  5. Muri atta

    Sir Alex has proved all critics,the stuff he's made of.and for Tevez he's a hero at oldtraford..ronaldo wen he came to man u was not a complete player,sir alex put finishing touch on him to make him the world players he is,i can only say a prodigal son will always find his way home.congratulation to man u fans around the world.

    May 18, 2009 at 7:50 am | Reply
  6. mengi

    Man United & fergi have another 2(two) cups to this season yes

    May 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  7. Johannes

    Wel lets aplaud man u 4 the remarkable season they had, sir alex u r the best of the rest, pls cm and visit namibia and maybe take m 4 trails pls sir. wel dne 4 winning the league and best of luck 4 cl final.

    May 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  8. pssf

    where is the story on the u-17 world cup??? NONE on "mighty" CNN.com

    November 16, 2009 at 2:07 am | Reply

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