COMMENT by Graeme Macleod
Winning four trophies in a single season is something that is rarely talked about in connection with Manchester United.
Fast-talking former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was never quick to play down his side’s chances of winning an unprecendent quadruple when he was in power at Stamford Bridge. But United gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson has always been that bit more coy.
Following last night’s Carling Cup win though, becoming the first English club to win the four major trophies in a single season is now a distinct possibility for the English champions.
The fates seem to have dealt the Old Trafford men a good hand. Last night they eased into the last four of the Carling Cup with a comfortable 5-3 victory over Blackburn Rovers. With the rest of the ‘Big Four’ clubs already out of the competition, United look poised to take on the mantle of favourites ahead of Saturday’s semi final draw. Only holders Tottenham Hotspur, giant killers Burnley or Derby County stand between Sir Alex and yet another final appearance at Wembley.
European football after Christmas has already been secured as United disposed of Celtic, Villarreal and Aalborg in the group stages of the Champions League. The Red Devils are already the holders of the European Cup and Ferguson has expressed his desire to become the first manager to retain the trophy since the competition was revamped in 1992.
After a stuttering start, United sit six points off the pace in the Premier League with one game in hand. Nearest rivals Liverpool and Chelsea both slipped up last weekend as Ferguson’s men continue to close in.
And with an FA Cup campaign still to come, a potential fixture pile up may come between Fergie and his quest for glory. But the wily Scot had the luxury of bringing striker Carlos Tevez in from the cold for last night’s win. The Argentinean repaid his manager’s faith by bagging four of the goals.
Luis Nani – another fringe player – grabbed the other goal in last night’s win while Benni McCarthy (2) and Matt Derbyshire hit back for Blackburn.
Elsewhere, Tamas Priskin gave Watford the lead against Tottenham. But Harry Redknapp’s men levelled through a Roman Pavlyuchenko penalty before Darren Bent hit the winner for Spurs in the second half.
But with such a depth of talent at his disposal, it would take a brave man to bet against Ferguson’s men doing a clean sweep, giving the 66-year-old from Govan the chance to retire on the ultimate high.