FINE, I’ll say it: Chelsea were worthy winners. But only just.

A single point separates newly-crowned English Premier League champions Chelsea and second-placed Manchester United, and it all came down to the final game of the season.

Now Chelsea can go on and score another seven or eight or however many goals they feel like against Portsmouth in the FA Cup final; but I have to say this to the lady who did the voiceover for that Astro FA Cup advertisement: it’s pronounced Ports-muth, not Ports-mouth.

And I wonder if someone finally told RTM sports commentator Hasbullah Awang that it’s called the “F.A. Cup”, not the “Facup”, which just sounds horrible.

Anyway, at the moment, all United can do is wonder where it all went wrong.
Alex Ferguson said: “You can’t agonise over these things. Sometimes you get the breaks, sometimes you don’t”, after the final game against Stoke City.

Sure, there’s no point torturing oneself over the loose pass that led to the throw-in that led to the corner that led to another corner that led to a deflected shot that bounced off the post and back into the net via the back of the goalkeeper’s head.

But being a sore loser, I’ve decided nevertheless to help Ferguson out by highlighting the five key areas and decisions he should lose sleep over.

1. Bungling Berba
It’s easy to make scapegoats out of certain individuals in times of failure, but with Berbatov, it’s even easier.

While his Chelsea counterpart Didier Drogba was scoring a hat-trick during Chelsea’s 8-0 drubbing of Wigan, Berbatov was terribly wasteful yet again against Stoke, missing three golden chances.

If only United had another attacker who could actually score HALF the chances his midfield would invariably create for him every week, they’d probably have dished out a few 8-0 drubbings of their own.

2. Losing Tevez
When Fergie was coming to terms with losing Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid, he certainly wasn’t anticipating a season without Carlos Tevez as well.

In Fergie’s defence, Tevez has played out of his socks this season. Fergie had just bought Berbatov, and Tevez is rather similar in style to Rooney; so to pay over the market rate – to dodgy non-football entities (Tevez was owned by a third-party) – for the bargy Argie didn’t make much sense, neither did replacing him with Michael Owen.

The lack of a proper goal-scorer to complement or stand-in for Rooney has cost United dearly at various stages of the season (read Bungling Berba).

Rooney, and United, could have done with his old strike partner this season.

Rooney, and United, could have done with his old strike partner this season.

3. Defensive injury crisis
Michael Carrick had enough trouble playing in his own position this year, so it’s no surprise United were dismantled, especially in the game against Fulham, when he filled in at centreback.

But such was United’s injury woes in defence during a painful winter that their only recognised senior defender left was Patrice Evra.

Sure, Chelsea lost a few players to the African Nations Cup around the same time, but the fixture list was incredibly kind to them during that period. They were all matches Chelsea would’ve been expected to win, even without players like Didier Drogba or Michael Essien.

4. European disaster
Ferguson already pinpointed the week they lost the Champions League quarter-final to Bayern Munich as the week they lost everything.

If you read between the lines, basically he means Rafael da Silva’s mindless red-card, cost his side both titles.

His moment of stupidity left United having to defend for over half an hour with 10 men; but more importantly, it left them looking distinctly jaded in their next Premier League fixture against Blackburn Rovers, where they lost two valuable points, and deprived them of the significant psychological boost of being favourites to reach the Champions League final.

Rafael da Silva's immediately realised what he'd done to United's season after his red-card.

Rafael da Silva's immediately realised what he'd done to United's season after his red-card.

5. Bad refereeing
United’s bad luck with refereeing   decisions struck in both games against Chelsea, with an incorrectly awarded  freekick to Chelsea leading to John Terry shoving Wes Brown in the back to score while Didier Drogba was offside in the away game, and Drogba’s miles offside goal in the home game.

They always say these things tend to  even themselves out in football. Well in that case Terry would probably score a hat-trick of own goals at Stamford Bridge next season.

Hope for the future

But there is genuine hope for Manchester United next season. Rooney and Antonio Valencia had slow starts to the season; the defence will probably never experience such a devastating injury crisis ever again; they have promising new signings in Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling; and I believe that Dimitar Berbatov, the player I’ve loathed so much this season, will finally come good in his third season.

So I guess we can look forward to another great season come August, one that’ll go all the way down to the wire again.

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