From the Guardian
The Premiership trophy is back in Manchester United's possession but the euphoria inside Old Trafford was perhaps at its greatest in the corner housing West Ham's boisterous fans. It has been an epic recovery and the celebrations from Alan Curbishley and his players suggest they will not spend the summer fretting over the possibility of legal reprisals from the so-called Gang of Four.
This was only the second time this season United have lost on their own ground and it finished as a love-in, one of those rare occasions when both sets of supporters could head home feeling invigorated. As West Ham's joyous following celebrated the implications of Carlos Tevez's decisive goal, the home supporters stayed behind for the trophy to be brought on to the pitch by half a dozen members of Sir Matt Busby's title-winning 1955-56 side. Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs took a handle each to thrust it into the air and for half an hour Old Trafford was in party mode.
Wayne Rooney was in a jester's hat, Cristiano Ronaldo had a Portuguese national flag tied round his shoulders and Sir Alex Ferguson, wearing an over-sized cap reading 'Champions 2007' and combining his role as manager with that of proud grandfather, was surrounded by enough of his "bairns" on the lap of honour to form another team.
The lingering image, however, was of Eggert Magnusson's scream of joy at the final whistle and his apparent desire to bearhug anyone within 15 yards of him in the directors' box. Colleagues, friends, well-wishers and complete strangers all got a squeeze from the West Ham chairman. A few rows along, the Old Trafford chief executive, David Gill, could be seen belting out a lusty chorus of "Glory, glory Man United". It was one of those days - even if it was noticeable that the representatives of the Glazer family did not join the sing-along.
Ferguson, lest it be forgotten, had promised last week that he would not field a weakened team because of his "respect" for Wigan Athletic and Sheffield United and it did not seem at the time as if he had his fingers crossed behind his back.
At some point the United manager changed his mind, with Ronaldo, Giggs and Paul Scholes starting on the bench. There was no sign of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic was an unused substitute. Ferguson is entitled to regard Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea as his priority as he attempts to win another Double but his selection broke a very important promise and did West Ham a huge favour.
Robert Green's long goal-kick was headed down to Tevez by Bobby Zamora. Tevez played a quick one-two, benefited from a lucky break as he surged past Wes Brown and, when a looping ball dropped into his path, the Argentina international had the calmness and the technical ability to finish adroitly from a difficult angle.
Until that point Curbishley's players had been penned in their own half, indebted to goalline clearances and United's careless finishing and desperately grateful for any respite from the home side's relentless attacking. A similar pattern was expected for the second half and United re-emerged to cries of "send them down" from the Stretford End. But the champions fell flat. Passes started being misplaced, heads went down and the mood in the stands wilted into something perilously close to anticlimax.
Ferguson was justified in complaining that United were denied "a stonewall penalty" when Luis Boa Morte slid into John O'Shea but West Ham's defenders, led by the inspirational James Collins, coped without too much fuss throughout the closing exchanges and threatened even to score again on the counter-attack.
When the history of Carlos Tevez's season at West Ham United is written, it will be a tale of lies, damned lies and the remarkable statistics of a little Argentinian with a big heart who struck seven times in 10 games to orchestrate the great escape.
Tevez was magnificent. He ran himself into Old Trafford's sodden soil, chasing every loose ball, hounding any United defender who dawdled in possession. When he picked up a knock colliding with Gabriel Heinze, Tevez kept going, knowing how much his team-mates relied on him.
He even collected a booking, highly appropriately as paperwork has followed him around this season. But no wonder West Ham wanted Tevez's signature. His skill was mesmerising at times, drawing thunderous applause from the passionate away following as he back-heeled the ball around Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in swift succession. Magical.
If the Premier League's integrity has been damaged recently, the honesty of their competition certainly could not have been questioned yesterday. McCabe and everyone at Bramall Lane should know that Manchester United gave everything. With one eye on the FA Cup final, the champions may have been half-strength, with Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes on the bench for almost an hour, but they were never half-hearted. Rooney was everywhere, seeing a strike blocked by James Collins, and then rolling a shot just wide.
Prompted by Rooney, United kept pouring forward. Heinze bent a free-kick into the wall. Yossi Benayoun twice prevented goals for Alan Smith and Kieran Richardson. And when West Ham did venture forward, Patrice Evra and Alan Smith threw themselves into tackles.
Even with Tevez sparkling, West Ham were nervy, their mood darkening when news filtered through of Paul Scharner's goal at Bramall Lane. "Going down,'' chanted the United fans. "West Ham till I die'' retorted the visitors, their voices and faces contorted with emotions. When the radio carried an update, about Jon Stead's equaliser, hope flowed through West Ham supporters, their cheers transmitting belief to the players.
Now untroubled by news of Wigan's second, West Ham's fans exuded belief, decrying the spells of silence with taunts of "Champions - and you still won't sing''.
The Stretford End was enraged. As the teams emerged for the second half, United fans demanded: "Send them down'', soon adding: "Attack, attack, attack.'' Ferguson responded, bringing on Ronaldo, Giggs and Scholes. Each dexterous talent showed his class, but West Ham stood firm.
The gang of four are struggling to put together a legal case but their moral argument took on a bludgeoning force at Old Trafford yesterday. West Ham United have kept their place in the Barclays Premiership but a winning goal from Carlos Tévez on the final day only fuelled accusations that their sprint to safety was wind-assisted.
"Send 'em down," roared the Old Trafford crowd at the start of the second half but the final whistle brought wild celebrations among the West Ham players, coaching staff and in the directors' box where Eggert Magnússon, the chairman, was seen hugging Kia Joorabchian, Tévez's 'owner'. News of that embrace will go down well across the Pennines.
How they will laugh in Sheffield, too, at the irony of Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the Premier League, taking his seat only to find Joorabchian perched directly behind him.
A remarkable seventh win in nine matches was evidence that West Ham's recovery owed more than just to the goals from Tévez.
"We put our bodies on the line," Curbishley said, and they fought for their victory, but it is hard to believe that United would have lost at home in the league for the first time since the visit of Arsenal eight long months ago, if they had not been groggy from their championship celebrations. United put out a team that could have beaten West Ham and, on first-half chances, should have done so and Fulham had benefited a week ago from Liverpool fielding a weakened side.
These things happen but the presence of Kieran Richardson in the United line-up was bound to fuel Warnock's ire (Ed. only Warnock's???). The fact that Alan Smith forced a goalline block, Wayne Rooney chased around like it was August and John O'Shea brought a fingertip save from Robert Green in the first half will have been of little consolation.
Nor will Warnock have been calmed by Sir Alex Ferguson sending on Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs shortly before the hour-mark. By then, United were trailing to Tévez's goal after he had played a one-two with Bobby Zamora and barged his way past Wes Brown's weak challenge. Victory lifted West Ham from seventeenth to fifteenth place which means another £1 million in prize money - something else for Sheffield to think about as they count their losses.