Manchester United a point from Premier League glory
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men came from a goal behind to beat Wigan and effectively clinch the league - but will Carlos Tevez stay ar Old Trafford?
Wigan 1 Manchester United 2. Manchester United won after falling a goal behind against a spirited Wigan side last night to put them just a point away from a consecutive Premier League title, but increasingly the only story for the Mancunians is whether Carlos Tevez will be staying with the Old Trafford club.
The Argentinean's introduction last night on the hour mark, and subsequent levelling of the scores minutes later with a back heel, proved to the travelling Man Utd fans just how important the 25-year-old is to the club, and the plaintive howls of 'Sign him up' increased in intensity at the JJB Stadium last night.
To win the league but lose Tevez to Man City or Liverpool would be a Pyrhhic victory to many Reds, and Sir Alex Ferguson seems to be finally addressing the consternation on the terraces, claiming that a contract was indeed on the table. This revelation was immediately denied by Kia Joorabchian, the player's key advisor.
Before Tevez came on, it looked like Wigan were going to embarrass Ferguson's men after Rodallega's goal after 28 minutes exposed Man Utd's defence. Rio Ferdinand was absent through injury, and an off-colour Nemanja Vidic had almost been exposed by Antonio Valencia after just two minutes. Vidic was again to blame for the goal, but would have been within his rights to ask where his cover from Jonny Evans, the makeshift replacement for Ferdinand, was.
United huffed and puffed but seemed to be trying to hard to break down the industrious Wigan, and the frustration began to show as Cristiano Ronaldo followed up his weekend display of petulance with one of those eye-rolling and foot-stamping performance of histrionics that must have the Old Trafford hierarchy eyeing those alleged contract offers from Real Madrid with a little more purpose.
After Tevez's goal, the shape and feel of Man Utd changed, and every attack seemed capable of producing the winning goal. As it was, nervous fans had to wait until the last five minutes for Michael Carrick to put the game - and surely the Premier League title - to bed with a beautiful shot into the top right hand corner. That they could seal the title at home to Arsenal on Saturday will make it all the sweeter.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYINGDaniel Taylor, the Guardian: "Tevez's introduction changed the complexion of the game. It was as if a switch had been flicked and, when Michael Carrick speared a beautiful shot into the top corner with four minutes to play, it effectively ended any last chance of United surrendering their position at the top of the league. They will be worthy champions and their capacity to thrill still burns as strongly as ever. A man of Ferguson's years must surely wish they could do things more serenely sometimes, for this was another occasion when United deceived us into thinking they could self-implode before delivering the stunning finale."
Oliver Kay, the Times: "The moment that the heavens opened just before kick-off was the moment that Sir Alex Ferguson felt this was going to be Manchester United's night. The Scot has always liked to believe that his teams are unbeatable in the rain, but there were times when they looked bedraggled in this sodden corner of Greater Manchester until Carlos Tevez shook them out of their sorry state and brought a third successive Premier League title to within touching distance. It was Tevez, the man who feels as if he has been exiled from Ferguson's kingdom, who saved them." ·
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