The Lead

So the Premier League title race came down to Manchester United’s heroic, spiritual triumph against…Steve Kean’s Blackburn. A team on 28 points, currently in the drop zone with a manager still widely-hated by the club’s fans despite some middling success in recent weeks. Yet because it’s also the same team that managed to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in December and because David de Gea had to make three big saves last night, everyone had the license they needed today to talk about “resolve” and “determination” and “Fergie’s winning attitude” for doing one at Ewood Park.

Even so, surely Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn’t resort to mind games with Steve Kean ahead of what could have been the title decider in the race against Manchester City? Mind games involve barbed insults or patronizing put-downs phrased as casual asides, at least according to the eavesdropping press. But could they not also involve well-timed compliments? After all, a mind games master would pick and choose his press remarks very, very carefully.

Last week, Sir Alex Ferguson praised Steve Kean, and the flattered manager subsequently backed up Ferguson over Patrick Vieira’s referee remarks. Because, you know, Steve Kean is one of the “good guys,” which in Premier League parlance means the clubs are currently separated by 48 points in the table.

Sir Alex didn’t bother doing the same with Martin Jol ahead of their game against Fulham of course, but he hardly needed to; the latter revealed that he had a warm relationship with SAF and took time to call him the “best manager ever.” Spirits were likely left un-dampened by the failure of the referee to award Fulham a stonewall penalty in United’s also heroic 1-0 victory.

In any case, Blackburn duly capitulated at home and the Champion Machine happily rolled on to a practically certain 20th domestic league title and the transformation of England’s top flight into the Ukrainian Premier League. But the race for third is still on. So…best league in the world. In case you’re not convinced, however, Sharman has some great advice:



Canada

Duane Rollins tweaks the numbers to point out Julian De Guzman doesn’t suck for Toronto FC.

Things may be okay because Adrian Cann and Jeremy Hall are back in the TFC line-up.

TFC fans away in LA. Spot Sean Keay checking his phone.

A tactical look back at the Montreal Impact’s loss to the New York Red Bulls.

A look at the Vancouver Whitecaps’ problems up front.

Nigel Reed somehow manages to conclude after this weekend soccer is on the right track in this country.

England

David de Gea’s quite good.

Hubris?

Chelsea fears late FA Cup kick off against Tottenham could lead to crowd trouble.

Former LFC great John Aldridge says Liverpool are in “crisis” and are an “embarrassing laughing stock.”

Here’s a fairly obvious news story.

Various Premier League players smoking the pipe.

Former Chelsea defender Alex trashes Chelsea egos.

Italy

Antonio Cassano given the green light to play!

Barcelona fear Ibrahimovic, and so they should.

Spain

Madrid to nab Aguero off City?

Barcelona feel the fear of failure ahead of tonight.

Germany

Robben the key to everything for Bayern, writes Jonathan Wilson.

Rhineland rivals falter in the Bundesliga.

Bits and bobs

What do we do about the diving?!?

Formation Geek with Gary Neville. Respect.