Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 11 May 2008

The Final Curtain

Well that just about wraps it up for another Premier League season. Amazing to think how quickly time passes, isn't it? It seems like only yesterday the season was just beginning...

Anyway, congratulations to Manchester United, the new champions and to my mind the right ones given the standard of the opposition. Had Chelsea claimed the title today, I doubt it would have sat right with many fans of the Premier League. I say that only because Chelsea have barely been at the front of the title race all season and have limped along in third or fourth place for much of the time. Man United, for all their poor phases this season, have always been there or thereabouts like Arsenal were until they capitulated so dramatically when it mattered most.

That said, Chelsea did an amazing job pushing United all the way to the bitter end. Today's result has little or no significance to me today given the fact Alex Ferguson's men were such strong favourites to see off Wigan. Bolton earned a creditable draw, but it was all a fait accompli anyway. The FA in their wisdom elected to take the real Premier League trophy to the Man United match today (rather than the copy which went to Chelsea) and with some justification too. United proved again they have the pedigree to make a sustained challenge for the trophy over 38 games, so the title must be theirs.

At the other end of the table, an eventful afternoon saw Fulham and Bolton Wanderers keep their place in the Premier League at the expense of Birmingham City and Reading who are relegated to The Championship.

As I may have said before, I tend to feel that Fulham are perpetually one of those sides that seem to achieve little, perhaps flirt with relegation but ultimately retain their place every season and for that reason I wouldn't have batted an eyelid if they'd been relegated today. The thing is Roy Hodgson looks like a genuinely nice bloke who deserves great credit for all he's done thus far in his career. I want to see if he can turn Fulham around and make them more of a force to be reckoned with, and thanks to today's 1-0 win over Portsmouth, it looks like he'll get the chance to do so.

As for Reading, I have some sympathy with them. I think they've done pretty well since arriving in the Premier League and have played some exciting football at times, but they've gone steadily stale over the course of this season and as we all know, when the rot sets in the result can be fatal.

Birmingham have been brave in their approach this season, looking capable of putting up a decent fight with most of the teams in the bottom half of the table, but they too have seen their challenge run out of gas when they needed it most. Alex McLeish's arrival in November may have given the club a belief that better things were around the corner, but sadly it didn't quite turn out that way. Whether McLeish is still their manager by the time they return to the Premier League remains to be seen.

So that's it - the final curtain has fallen on the 2007/08 season, but fear not - we still have some things to discuss on this campaign before we can draw a line under this whole sorry affair, and we'll be tying up all those loose conversational ends over the coming week or so.

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