1. Magnificent leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson
2. Embarrassment of letting the title slip from our grasp in 2012 to City (on goal difference, on the last day, etc.) hurts so bad that it was used as an inspiration and drive for this season’s glory!
3. Never say die attititude. Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of times Man Utd had to rally back from a goal or two goals down to achieve a result in a match this season. Inspiring attitude.
4. Spanish laundry service finally clicked! After months of frustration in goal, De Gea finally came good about a month and a half ago when he managed to keep like 5-6 consecutive cleansheets. Perhaps SAF’s keeper rotation tactic really DID work!
5. Consistency. With the level of football at its highest in the BPL where every weekend offers a tough challenge, whether Man Utd were playing the likes of Chelsea or Wigan, the team with the more consistent performance would revel.
6. Although a bitter pill to swallow, the ‘early’ defeat in the UCL (last 16) did help the cause. (Sigh)
7. Offensive Defense! This season saw the likes of Evra, Evans and Rafael consistently getting on the scoresheet at important times of the season. Whoever said that the best defense is offense is genius.
8. Vintage performances. Apparently both Scholes and Giggs still have some legs left in them as their presence in some of the key matches helped steady the ship.
9. City self-destruction. There were certain stretches in the campaign that City seemed unwilling to win, drawing with numerous mid-level clubs and allowing us to build our lead at the top.
10. Psychological win at the Etihad. Though relatively early in the season, RVP’s last gasp curler of a freekick that secured the 3-2 win over City in the first Manchester derby certainly had a telling effect in the months to come. So, although the loss to City in the Old Trafford reverse was tough to chew, the lead that we built over the course of the season was already too wide to cover.
11. Nov-Dec blitz! It was during this remarkable stretch that Man Utd secured critical wins over Arsenal, Chelsea, City (and a whole lot more) that probably became the foundation of building an uncatchable lead.
12. Opening loss to Everton was certainly a JOLT in every sense and probably a stern reminder of the quality of all teams in the BPL.
13. The tough 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane with Spurs knicking in the equaliser at the death would probably be what I would call the second JOLT that propelled Man Utd to engineer a 7-game wining streak in the BPL. Examples like this certainly cements Man Utd’s reputation to respond positively after each heart-breaking loss or draw.
14. Game-changer rotations. In a curious observation, I notices that whilst the team was more or less built on the consistency of RVP thoughout the season, there would be evident instances that ONE midfielder would emerge for short stretches of time. For example, I could recall those stretches where Nani was instrumental in a few matches before going off injured; then there was Cleverley for a few matches; and (even) Anderson had his time in the spotlight as well; Young was dangerous in a few matches in Jan-Feb; as was Valencia and of course Kagawa, who suddenly seems to fit into SAF’s formation like to the T. I can only imagine how devastating Man Utd would be if all our midfielders were healthy and consistent throughout. :-p
15. Rooney’s patches of brilliance. Sure it would seem that Wazza was playing second fiddle all along this season to RVP, but there were certain stretches in the season that he almost scored at will and combined with devastating effect with RVP. With constant injuries to the Man Utd midfield, Rooney often sacrificed his preferred striking role to play a much deeper, play-maker role in much of the season. Personally, I feel he definitely still has a place in Man Utd’s starting 11.
16. Itching strikers. For Welbeck and Hernandez, I guess it can become rather frustrating to watch most of Man Utd’s games from the bench, with SAF ‘s preferred Rooney-RVP as his first choice. However, one would notice that probably because of this, everytime Welbeck or Chicarito gets a chance to play, they would be playing as if their lives depended on it – scoring some important goals in the process too.
17. Wealth in Youth. This has already been in SAF’s mind for a couple of years, what with the crop of young players like Young, Jones, De Dea, Buttner, Cleverly, Rafael running regularly on the pitch. Certainly helps to have young and energetic legs to keep up with the pace of other BPL teams.
18. Survival during Christmas-New Year peak period. All teams in the BPL would acknowledge that one of the toughest stretches in the season comes during the time when other European leagues go off on their winter break. Whilst most of the other pretenders faltered, Man Utd continued their solid consistent performance during this insane period to secure 7 points from a possible 9 from 23 Dec 2012 till 1 Jan 2013.
19. Barcelona. My personal theory is that SAF had steadily invested and built a team worthy to take on Barcelona. Kinda like when Starfleet designed the USS Defiant specifically to take on the Borg. :-p Anyway, from the displays during UCL nights, it was clear that he had already or was close to establishing the right pieces, formation and tactics to finally match mighty Barcelona. Whilst Man Utd’s defeat to Real Madrid was truly unlucky, I believe that in the evolving process of designing Man Utd to fight Barca, the team became considerably stronger.
20. Robbie Van Persie. Sporting Jersey no. 20 from the start of the season was a clear sign of his intentions. Simply the X-Factor and made the ultimate difference with his unstoppable goal-scoring feats. ‘Nuff said. Personally, I’m truly happy for RVP for FINALLY securing his first BPL title. Couldn’t he have come to Man Utd any sooner? Hehe. :-p