Tue, May 08, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Man United take Premier League

RECORD NINTH The Red Devils were crowned English champions without kicking a ball after Chelsea failed to win at Arsenal. It was their first in four years

AP , LONDON

Manchester United fans celebrate outside Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Sunday after winning the English Premiership title for a record ninth time.

PHOTO: AP

Manchester United won its first Premier League title since 2003 on Sunday without kicking a ball because Chelsea was held to a 1-1 draw at Arsenal.

Chelsea had been trying to win its third straight Premier League title. The last club to do that was Manchester United from 1999-2001.

"I have to say that maybe I'm prouder today than when I was champion," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "My players are heroes. All season long, against absolutely everything, they did brilliantly."

United has now won the English title nine times since the Premier League was formed in 1992 -- all under the leadership of manager Alex Ferguson, who took over the club in November 1986. United has also won seven other English titles.

`fantastic day'

"It's a fantastic day for the club and the supporters," said Ferguson, who said he watched the final 15 minutes of Sunday's match. "Over the last two years, Chelsea has dominated the Premier League, and yes, we had a big job to do to catch up with them. The key was having a good start to the season and trying to stay with them. And I think we did that very well."

Ferguson shelved plans to retire in 2002, and the 65-year-old Scot said was enjoying his job too much to consider leaving.

"It's easy to retire," Ferguson said. "It's a quick decision -- I did it some years and I regretted it probably within days. But now I feel invigorated by the young players at the club, I feel invigorated by players like Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, churning out every week for me."

"I don't know how long I'm going to last now, but I'm enjoying it, and I'm going to do it until I stop enjoying it," he added.

On Saturday, United beat Manchester City 1-0 to improve to 88 points. Chelsea has 81 points with two games left. The two play each other at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

United hosts West Ham on Sunday in its final game, while Chelsea hosts Everton.

Man United and Chelsea, which were both ousted in the Champions League semifinals this week, also play each other in the FA Cup final on May 19. Chelsea has already won the League Cup.

Sunderland up

In the League Championship, Sunderland won the title in manager Roy Keane's first season.

Sunderland defeated Luton 5-0 on the final day to finish with 88 points from 46 games. Birmingham finished second with 86 points. Both clubs had already been promoted to the Premier League.

"It is nice to go up as champions, and there is a massive challenge ahead," Keane said.

Birmingham had a one-point lead over Sunderland heading into the final round, but lost to Preston 1-0 after Simon Whaley's 85th-minute goal.

Daryl Murphy scored twice for Sunderland, and Anthony Stokes, Ross Wallace and David Connolly added the others.

Derby finished third, West Bromwich Albion fourth, Wolves fifth and Southampton sixth to fill out the playoff positions.

Southampton will host Derby on May 12, with the return leg three days later. Wolves hosts West Brom on May 13, with the second leg three days later.

The playoff final is at Wembley Stadium on May 28.

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Mourinho launches attack on under-performing stars

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