Manchester United surpassed Liverpool’s record of 18 English league titles at Ewood Park with a performance that, whilst not exactly the signature of champions, contained all the hallmarks of Sir Alex Ferguson’s men’s season.
Though Blackburn started out organised, took the lead and probably should have run out winners had they made the most of their chances, the Red Devils showed the kind of grit and determination that has seen them go unbeaten at home this season. However, they have struggled away from Old Trafford at times, drawing 10 of their 19 games on the road in the Premier League. It is incredible to ponder what might have been had Chelsea not fallen away in the middle part of the season, or Arsenal had maintained some semblance of consistency.
But that will be saved for another day, because United are now record breakers having beaten their Merseyside rivals’ achievement with a trophy which could well be joined by another in two weeks time when they take on Barcelona at Wembley in the Champions League Final. Though Christopher Samba and Jason Roberts are not quite on the level of Carlos Puyol and Lionel Messi, they both caused United problems, throughout the first half at least.
Phil Jones belied his youth alongside the giant centre-back to frustrate Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, who has been in sparkling form this season, and though the threat was always there for the away side from the still-energetic Ryan Giggs and the tricky Nani, Blackburn at least looked like a team who were fighting for their Premier League lives.
They had their own danger man in Canadian winger Junior Hoilett, but United were all too happy to cause themselves problems through the early mistakes of goalkeeper Thomas Kuszczak. The Pole, preferred to Edwin Van Der Sar, and who has recently stated he may have to leave Old Trafford to search for first-team football, looked nervy. Rio Ferdinand and the ever-present Nemanja Vidic were there to settle the United backline though, as they have done brilliantly so many times this season.
Though the decision to award the Red Devils a second-half penalty for a clumsy Paul Robinson foul on Hernandez, which Rooney subsequently converted for the equaliser, was contentious, Blackburn were more than happy to let it slide and sit back with ten minutes to go, allowing Manchester United total domination of possession. The game petered out to its conclusion with the feel of a pre-season friendly. Steve Kean will be delighted with a point, of this there is no doubt but the attitude of both teams was a little questionable at the end of the game.
But such actions are commonplace at the end of the season, and neither team will be bothered with any accusations sent their way. Blackburn have taken another step towards safety. Manchester United, once again, are Premier League champions.