Victory at Middlesbrough will see Manchester United as champions for the third time in the four years of the Premiership. Defeat opens the way for Newcastle United, who must beat Spurs at St James’ Park. A 0-0 draw at the Riverside will mean Newcastle needing to win by six goals, seven given a score draw.
United will not play cagily, insists their manager Alex Ferguson. “If we were to go for a draw, it would take only a second to concede a goal,” he says “That’s not our way We’ve got to go for it and play our normal style. We have to make sure we get the width and attack them.”Popular support is with Newcastle; who could have been left untouched by those TV pictures of their suffering supporters these last few weeks? Then there is the swashbuckling style, of the first half of the season at least, and the open approach of their manager Kevin Keegan. And he did not concede another, finishing the job with an ace after an hour and 41 minutes..
It was a football season heralded as probably never before; more imported players of quality, more teams seeking to play with style More money. Remarkably, it almost seems to have fulfilled the expectations and great ones accompany today’s final Premiership programme
It should be simple enough. The set was over in a mere 18 minutes, Britain conceding only one point in their four service games. The culprit was Rusedski, at 40-0 in the opening game – but that was only the sixth point he had dropped in four service games plus the tie-break. But the Slovenians could only blame themselves when the third chance went astray, Urh netting with an edgy backhand volley from a Rusedski service return.Krusic was then culpable in handing Britain the one chance they required, hitting a backhand volley out from Broad’s drive, and Rusedski gleefully converted the set-point for 8-6 with a smash, letting out a yell even before he made contact.So after 50 anxious minutes, Britain gained the initiative, and 10 minutes later they were 3-0 ahead in the second set.The Slovenians were rarely allowed to raise their performance at this stage and Urh lost his serve to love in the eighth game, helped by Rusedski’s splendid forehand down the line on the fourth point. Urh delivered a backhand volley to give his team the first glimmer of hope, but Rusedski was fortunate to salvage the situation for Britain with a winning backhand volley.The next crisis also came when Broad was serving, this time in the tie- break. He netted a forehand from a driven return by Urh to give the Slovenians a 4-2 lead, which Krusic built upon to serve to 6-3 and the opportunity of three set points.Rusedski’s serves limited the options on the first two, Broad saving the first with a backhand volley and his partner the second with his fifth ace.
Broad was the player who came close to losing his serve in the eighth game, hitting successive double faults to encourage the Slovenians in their attacks. It was a triumph born in Canada and South Africa, but rarely has one been so welcomed by the home country.
Bozic, who put immense pressure on Britain by defeating Mark Petchey in the second singles match on Friday night, was a mere spectator as his team-mates endeavoured to take the lead in the tie yesterday, and for a time it appeared that Krusic and Urh might succeed.The proceedings turned on the first-set tie-break, and, it must be said, Slovenia ought to have done real damage to British morale before succumbing.Not only did the visitors create the only break point in the 40 minutes’ play leading up to the shoot-out, but they then held three set-points. Greg Rusedski ought to complete victory when he plays the Slovenian No 1, Iztok Bozic, in the first of today’s reverse singles. Rusedski made his Davis Cup doubles debut yesterday, partnering Neil Broad to success against the 17-year-old Gregor Krusic and Borut Urh, 7-6 6-2 6-3.