SAF’s titles: part two
In part two of our gallery feature, we recall United’s – and Sir Alex’s – seven most recent league triumphs, from 2001 to 2013…
Glory story: United blow the opposition away to finish 10 points clear of second-placed Arsenal, as Sir Alex becomes the first manager to win three titles in a row.
Top gun: Teddy Sheringham, 15 league goals
Turning point: After a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in October, a run of 15 wins from the next 19 games took United 13 points clear – and the Reds then smashed the Gunners 6-1 at home on 25 February.
Party time: 14 April 2001. United’s 4-2 home win over Coventry, coupled with Arsenal’s 3-0 slump at home to lowly Middlesbrough, sealed the title with five games to spare.
Sir Alex said: “Winning three in a row is something special. Perhaps we’re like a great artist whose work is only really appreciated with the passing of time.”
All smiles: Sir Alex became the first manager to win three league titles in a row in 2001
Glory story: The Reds’ worst start to a Premier League campaign proves far from fatal when nine wins from the last 10 games leaves title-holders Arsenal trailing by five points.
Top gun: Ruud van Nistelrooy, 25 league goals
Turning point: United preserved a three-point lead by holding the Gunners 2-2 at Highbury on 16 April.
Party time: 4 May 2003. Arsenal’s shock 3-2 defeat at home to relegation-haunted Leeds ensured the celebrations could begin; United had beaten Charlton 4-1 at OT the previous day.
Sir Alex said: “We played better than any other team in the league from March onwards and you can’t beat the kind of momentum we were able to build up.”
Goodison glee: Sir Alex and his players enjoy the 2002/03 trophy lift on the final day at Everton
Glory story: United’s best start to a season since 1993/94 paved the way for a return to the summit of English football, six points above Jose Mourinho’s outgoing champions Chelsea.
Top gun: Cristiano Ronaldo, 17 league goals
Turning point: On 28 April, the Reds recovered from 0-2 down at Everton to win 4-2 while Chelsea were held 1-1 at home by Bolton. United went five points clear with three games left.
Party time: 6 May 2007. The day after beating Man City 1-0 at Eastlands, United were crowned champions when Mourinho’s men only draw 1-1 with Arsenal at the Emirates.
Sir Alex said: “Chelsea won the last two titles at a canter. We had to do something about it.”
Back at the top: United wrestled the trophy back from Chelsea in May 2007
Glory story: United and Chelsea raced all the way to the final day before Sir Alex’s men won the title by two points. The Reds achieved a record Premier League goal difference of +58.
Top gun: Cristiano Ronaldo, 31 league goals
Turning point: Carlos Tevez’s 88th-minute equaliser at Blackburn on 19 April ensured it was still United’s title to lose – the Reds could even afford a defeat to Chelsea seven days later.
Party time: 11 May 2008, JJB Stadium, Wigan 0-2 United. Not even a downpour could dampen the Reds’ spirits as Ronaldo’s penalty and Ryan Giggs’ late sidefoot sealed the triumph.
Sir Alex said: “We’ve expressed ourselves in an entertaining way. The title is well deserved.”
We’ve done it! Sir Alex can’t contain his emotions at the final whistle at Wigan in May 2008
Glory story: United produced a classic home-straight surge to overtake Christmas leaders Liverpool in the table and thus equal the Merseysiders’ long-standing record of 18 titles.
Top gun: Cristiano Ronaldo, 18 league goals
Turning point: Coming back from 2-1 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 – with an injury-time winner from debutant Federico Macheda – on 5 April 2009.
Party time: 16 May 2009, Old Trafford, United 0-0 Arsenal. Forgettable game but memorable scenes when Gary Neville lifted the trophy aloft in front of 75,468 fans.
Sir Alex said: “The challenge now is to win it next year. A 19th league title would be special.”
Top dogs: United’s number two Mike Phelan and Sir Alex pose with the trophy in May 2009
Glory story: Propelled by a near-perfect home record, United see off the challenge of Arsenal and a late charge by title-holders Chelsea to secure a 19th championship on the penultimate day.
Top gun: Dimitar Berbatov, 21 league goals
Turning point: United were 2-0 down at West Ham on 2 April, but roared back with four second-half goals to stay in the driving seat at the top of the table.
Party time: 14 May 2011, Ewood Park, Blackburn 1-1 United. The Reds secured the point needed to become the most successful English league team with 19 titles.
Champagne moment: Sir Alex toasts his 12th title, and United’s 19th overall
Glory story: Spurred on by the heartbreak of losing the title in the dying seconds of the 2011/12 campaign and with the addition of one RvP to the squad, the Reds came back with a vengeance to secure a 20th title triumph… and with four games to spare.
Top gun: Robin van Persie, 25 league goals
Turning point: Last-minute victories at City and at home to Newcastle in December were important, but the second weekend in February when City lost at Southampton and United beat Everton (the team Sir Alex claimed we’d thrown the title away against the previous campaign) put the Reds 12 points clear and well in control of the title race.
Party time: 22 April 2013, Old Trafford, United 3-0 Villa. A first-half Robin van Persie hat-trick – the second goal of which was an absolute gem – secured the three points needed to seal title glory.
The champagne flows: Sir Alex celebrates title no.20