Football: 'I could hardly bear to watch'

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The Independent Online
KENNY DALGLISH, though disappointed at seeing the Premiership challenge of his Blackburn team end at Coventry, was quick to congratulate Manchester United.

'We tried our best and took four points out of six off them but unfortunately we didn't get enough help from other people,' the Rovers manager said. 'Having said that it's up to you to help yourselves. We had the opportunity to go top on a couple of occasions but we lost, so it's Manchester United's title and well done to them.'

The consolation for Dalglish is the club's first venture into Europe in the Uefa Cup. 'I'm proud that it's Blackburn's first time in Europe and excited that it's my first time as a manager,' he said. 'The players and staff have been magnificent.'

Steve Bruce, the Manchester United captain, saw the match on television. 'I could hardly bear to watch and was actually out buying champagne when Coventry's second goal went in,' he said. 'It's a tremendous achievement to retain the championship.

'All credit to Blackburn and I know exactly how they feel because we were in the same position as them two years ago. But they pushed us hard as is proved by the fact that we had amassed 88 points and still not been sure of winning the title. That tells the story.'

United faltered in February and March after building up a 16-point lead by January. Asked what he thought had sparked United back to life, Bruce said: 'Sparky's (Mark Hughes') goal in the FA Cup semi- final against Oldham at Wembley. That put us right back on course and lifted the whole club.'

Bruce followed the game at Highfield Road flanked by the defender Paul Parker and the goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who revealed that he could be fit for the FA Cup final on 14 May.

The Danish international, who tore ankle ligaments against Ipswich on Sunday, is more hopeful of facing Chelsea in the final after having had a second opinion on his injury from a specialist in Copenhagen. 'You can play with torn ligaments with heavy strapping,' he said, 'so hopefully I will play.'