One of the fringe benefits of following a football team is the way it enables the charting of life, anchoring unrelated but parallel experiences in time and place. But to every up there's a down; when things go badly, definitive connotations are unavoidably forced upon feelings that deserve to stand alone, happy times contaminated with disappointment.
So it is that my girlfriend's 30th birthday celebrations will be forever entwined with ceding the title, though if you will get yourself born in the second week of May and then succumb to a Unitedaholic, you've only yourself to blame. And spare a thought too for poor Greenwich Village, no longer just a trigger for simple associations of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and some good nights out, but now inextricably linked to the same unfortunate event.
At least the time difference meant that it was all over and done with by lunchtime, meaning less time to wait in grim expectation – though only in the US could live sport be shown on delay, so as to squeeze in a few more commercials - and more time to dull the pain with celebratory refreshments.
The game itself was an exercise in tolerance. Though I stationed myself in such a position as to ensure that there was no way I could see the screen showing Chelsea, however much the urge to ogle at unpleasantness challenged me, it was impossible to insulate myself from the hell yeah whooping and hollering emanating from its direction. Luckily, my attention was diverted by the replica-clad girl sat next to me, who taught me that "Berbatov is like, so awful", amongst other gobbets of wisdom.
In terms of leagues not won, the sting of losing this time was relatively minor, a slap in the face rather than a boot in the balls. The run-in of 1992 served as an inoculation against all subsequent on-pitch failures, though I admit to my seduction by the prospect of increasing the pretty leagues all in a row, at the same time as overtaking Liverpool's total tally. And, of course, by the selfish desire to sell souvenir books, though despite drawing on my bar mitzvah and losing on my 18th birthday, in the main United have won when I've needed them to the most, the titles won in each of my three years as a student particularly appreciated.
That isn't to say it's enjoyable losing to a squad including Terry, Lampard, Cole, other Cole, Drogba and Ballack, because it isn't, and that's without even getting started on Abramovich. But even in that context, Chelsea mean very little, the artificial nature of their success and support according them no real significance. Nonetheless, having accumulated the most points, they've been unarguably the best team, so, through gritted soul, congratulations to them.
As for United, they had a better season than I thought they might, though not as good a season as they should have done. Whenever a league is narrowly lost, there'll be specific moments that it's easy to blame, most obviously the arse-end of the decisions in both games against Chelsea. But though they did make a crucial difference, there were also plenty of opportunities to render them irrelevant, in particular the failure to cash in on an easy run of games either side of the New Year, and it's frustrating that the title was surrendered without forcing the winners to produce something exceptional.
And in the same way Fergie has been credited in the past with dragging his men to titles, this time he made nowhere near the best of the resources available to him. Or in other words, had I been in charge, United would still be champions, and most likely preparing for another European final. I say this not because I rate myself as a manager, though clearly I do, but because the errors in selection and tactics have been of such obvious and glaring nature. As it happens, similar ones were also made last season and to a lesser degree the one before, but Ronaldo and occasionally Tevez were on-hand to mask them, whereas this time round, there was no such security.
In public at least, Fergie has been keen to voice satisfaction with how things went, despite a third consecutive year of decline. Earlier in the week, he confided that "I look into my own management and the rest of the staff. Did I always make the right team selections with the appropriate tactics? Do we have a strong enough squad?", the implication being that he did and we do.
Any such notions are, of course, utterly fatuous. There exist exceptionally clear cases of incorrect selection – Liverpool away and Chelsea at home, for example - and also of tactics, both Bayern games springing immediately to mind. And incontrovertible proof that the squad isn't strong enough was provided by the season-ruining effect of Rooney's brief absence.
In reality, the likelihood is that Fergie is cognisant of at least this third aspect, his ability to do something about it dependent on whom he can sell and how much more debt the Glazer credit card can wear. Foster will certainly be for the off, as will Berbatov if a buyer can be found. Carrick, too, is done, his contribution fading in line with the team - unsurprising from a player who reflects rather than inflects – and at long industrious last, Park has also fallen out of favour.
In terms of additions, more than anything, an attacking midfielder of genuine class is required – there are plenty of good players at United, but not enough brilliant ones. This season, when the whole team has clicked, they've played very well, but lacking has been individuals able to conjure victory when things are going badly.
Therefore the end of the season doesn't merit the kind of pontificating crescendo I had planned. Thus, all that remains to say is thanks for reading, thanks for your comments, and next year in Jerusalem!
On The Road will be available in book form as soon as possible, from www.danielharriswriter.co.uk