April 28th 2007, 1.50pm
Manchester United started the day 3 points ahead of Chelsea at the top of the table, but now are 2-0 down at Goodison Park, whilst Chelsea are beating Bolton 2-1 at home. After today, there are just three games of the season remaining, including away trips to Chelsea and City, as well as a home game against West Ham, who are fighting relegation, and love throwing a spanner in the works when it comes to our title challenge.
After leading the Premiership all season, surely we can’t throw it all away now.
Four days ago, Wayne Rooney scored a brilliant injury time winner against Milan in the semi-finals of the European Cup. The Italians got two away goals though, meaning if we want to get to our first Champions League final since 1999, we’re really going to have to pull something special out of the bag in four days time when we travel to the San Siro.
Sadly, our plight doesn’t end there, because after our Wednesday night match, we face a lunch time kick off at Wastelands on Saturday. The pressure is on.
If results stay as they are, we’ll be clear by goal difference alone, making every remaining game, including the one at Stamford Bridge, a crucial must win.
April 28th 2007, 2.29pm
In a dramatic afternoon, United’s luck has turned around entirely, with our lads (I still include Phil Neville as one of us) scoring three goals in eighteen minutes. Meanwhile, Chelsea have conceded against Bolton, taking their scoreline to 2-2. If results stay as they are, we will be sitting five points clear at the top of the table.
April 28th 2007, 3.33pm
Rooney picks up the ball just inside the Everton half, then flicks it on beautifully in to the path of Chris Eages who was brought on just over five minutes ago for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
He stumbles, regains his balance, then enters Everton’s 18-yard box. With two defenders in front of him and Ronaldo to the right, Eagles stops, looks up, and curls the ball just inside the post.
Grabbing his badge, he runs to the celebrating United fans, punching the air. Giggsy is the first to meet him, taking him by his shirt, shaking him, hugging him, screaming like a girl.
“Just to emphasise what a day this has been for Manchester United,” says the Sky Sports commentary.
And that was that. After being knocked out of the European Cup by Milan, United went on to beat City, and were pronounced Champions the following day when Chelsea failed to beat Arsenal. Our first title since 2003 and a resounding redemption for our manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who had been criticised for the previous two years over his failure to compete seriously in the league.
That day against Everton, aside from watching us lift the trophy some weeks later, was the greatest moment of the whole season, and one I heavily associate with Chris Eagles goal. Our players mauled him, celebrating as though the title was won. Goalscorer, John O’Shea, jumped on to the group of players, “Come on!” he shouted excitedly to our fans and I really remember thinking, ‘This is it, this is the day that determines our season.’
Now Eagles is looking like he’s on his way to the Championship, with Burnley the most likely destination, who finished outside the top 10 in their league last season. Where did it all go wrong?
Eagles had a decent 90 minutes against Chelsea a fortnight after the Everton game, but his appearance was down to the title already being won, rather than any reward for his contribution in his last game.
He had a good pre-season,scoring a belter against FC Shenzhen, as well as goals against FC Seoul and Dunfermline.
Eagles made an appearance in our 1-1 draw with Portsmouth at the start of the following season, being thrown on with the hopes of replicating the events of the Everton game, but it never materialised.
Following Cristiano’s suspension for a red card at Fratton Park, Eagles played for half an hour against City and Spurs, as well as a starting place in the team that beat Sunderland.
He seemed to be making the break through, in the way youth team members have in the past, getting game time here and there. Whether Fergie believed he was capable of taking that next step, or was just playing him out of necessity with Park and Ronaldo unavailable, remains to be seen.
However, when United bombed out of the League Cup, following a 2-0 home defeat against Coventry, Ferguson was furious, and several players faced being sent away on loan.
“They’ve not had enough football as a team,” he said after the match. “We looked at the League Cup as an avenue for these players to play in. Now that’s gone I think we’ll have to review the situation with one or two of them going on loan, because they do need football. There’ll have to be some that we have to keep. Pique was excellent on Wednesday. He was our best player along with Anderson. We’ll probably keep Simpson as he can play both full-back positions. But I’m maybe looking at the rest going on loan as they need to play football.”
After already spending time on loan at Watford, Sheffield Wednesday and NEC Nijmegen, Eagles was linked with a loan move to Sheffield United, who were then managed by former red Bryan Robson. However, Fergie chose to keep him at the club, where he played out the season with the Reserves. The season ended with them finishing 3rd and winning the Senior Cup, after beating Bolton in the final.
Yesterday, Burnley manager Owen Coyle confessed he represented one of two clubs eager to sign Eagles on a permanent basis.
“It’s a bit complicated in that there is another club interested in him, but he has real quality,” he said. “We had a terrific meeting with him and his representative, obviously with permission from his club, because there would be a big fee involved in that.”
With the club open to offers for the player, it seems as though Eagles’ future is away from United. Not that it’s a massive disappointment, with it looking more likely that Ronaldo will stay, as well as Nani, Giggs and Park all better alternatives to Eagles for the position, however sadly it looks as though yet another ‘promising’ United youth hasn’t made the grade at our club.