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Benjani’s Survival Sunday

Will Sir Alex Ferguson name a side strong enough to beat Blackpool? Has the Carling Cup taken too much out of Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City? And will Wolves and Blackburn engineer a draw to keep themselves in the division if other results go their way?

The intriguing sub-plot is that Manchester United have already won the title and have an eye on next week’s Champions League final. Blackpool’s future hangs by a thread and their most famous fan, young Kian Kelly, is praying for survival. The conspiracy theorists are having a field day.
The Premier League are concerned enough about fair play that they will ensure all four matches kick-off simultaneously in the second-half. With millions of pounds of revenue at stake, no-one is hiding the magnitude of the outcome.

“It’s the biggest game of my managerial career,” said Birmingham boss Alex McLeish who has benefited from final day drama twice with Rangers. “I can’t say much more than that. I’ve won major European trophies as a player with a provincial Scottish club in Aberdeen but this league is where everyone wants to be.”
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez will doubtless echo such sentiments. He has been moved this week to check on Latics’ fan George Owen (83), who suffered a heart attack during last week’s second-half fightback against West Ham.

He remains in intensive care but Martinez believes it has brought home the emotion of the occasion.

“I’ve been here since 1995,” said Wigan’s boss, “so I know what it means to the town. “When it was impressed upon me was when I learned that George, a fan for 50 years, had a heart attack. You just understand then how important it is — football affects your own life and your family’s.”

Over at Molineux, Mick McCarthy, whose side are a point above the drop zone, does not need to know about the pressure as Wolves have been in the bottom three for most of the season.

Karl Henry, McCarthy’s skipper, confirmed what everyone on the outside is thinking.

“It’s a crazy situation,” he said, “none of us has ever been involved in anything like this before.

“After picking up seven points from three games, we were hoping that other teams down there would have been wilting under the pressure — but they haven’t been. Fair play to them all.”

Benjani Mwaruwari’s Blackburn are the outsiders to lose their place in the top flight. But for a point against the champions last week, they would have been right in the thick of it. They still might be, if results go against them. It will be a staggering fall from grace if they do. Rovers were seventh after beating Liverpool in January but plummeted after an 11-match winless streak.

“We made mistakes talking about the dreams of the future,” said two-time Champions League winner Michel Salgado, “we didn’t realise there was three months of the season still to play.”

Finally, to Old Trafford, where the majority of a sell-out crowd will be heading for a 19th title party. — Daily Mail.



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