The gut feeling that Man City were going to become Champions started when Vincent Kompany secured three points at Old Trafford with a header was sickening. The chase was well and truly on.
It all came down to the last day of the season. Almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that Man City would defeat QPR and secure their first ever title, which could spell relegation for QPR . I actually watched the game that day with my aunt who was a massive QPR fan and unfortunately for me I was also joined by a separate Arsenal supporter. His side was gunning for his side to finish in a Champions League place. I remember the day well, of course I do, after all I am a Manchester United fan.
Looking at the team sheets before the game the gulf of class in their striking options was abundantly clear. The Argentinian duo of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez would surely score more then the likes of Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cissé. City have been in dominating form all season, even putting six past their Manchester rivals earlier in the season. I was in Australia for that, and even across the world that one stung.
Manchester United still had a job to do against a midtable Sunderland side, but the result would be pretty much meaningless if the Citizens won. See those two strikers along with Edin Dzeko and Mario “Why Always Me” Balotelli helped separate the two Manchester sides by eight goals despite matching on points. United needed a miracle, and it was there own fault, they had an eight point clear lead the month before.
First Act :
As the games kicked off, my QPR auntie was keeping an eye on the Stoke versus Bolton game. If QPR were unable to secure a victory and Bolton lost, is would be championship football for Rangers the following season. My Arsenal friend was keeping updated on his sides fortunes as they took on West Brom with one point between them and North London Rivals Tottenham. Alot was to be decided on this day…..not for Liverpool though, they lost to Swansea and finished 8th.
Despite all the possible ramifications around the league, the footballing world were transfixed on one game and one game only, City v QPR. We took our seats, the curtained opened and over the course of the 90 minutes absolute scenes unfolded. News came in from the other side of England that Wayne Rooney had managed to put United ahead on the 20th minute. As the table stood Manchester United would be crowned Champions for the 13th time in the Premier Leagues 20 year history.
Finally as expected on the 39th minute an unlikely source in Pablo Zabaleta , put City in the lead heading into half time. Well I say it was Zabaleta but I put the blame firmly on Paddy Kenny’s dodgy hands. The title as is stands would be in the hands of Mancini’s Manchester. (Side note atleast the inscriber could write Manchester on the trophy).
Second Act :
The second act, sorry second half kicked off with the impending doom of crowning these big money boys as champions. If you take issue with me calling them big money boys, read this article. Anyway there was not much cause for optimism if you were a Red Devil, either Sunderland could nick a draw but surely City were going to storm ahead. The dread soon dissipated as yes there was a leveler against a Manchurian team, but it was not against United. On the 48th minute fans around the world rejoiced and fans in Manchester bemoaned as Cisse put the ball past Joe Hart into the net at the Ethihad after a horrible Joleen Lescott mistake. Ya see Bolton were ahead of Stoke, it was 2-1 at the Britannia stadium, without a win for QPR they were going down. The title at this stage would be in the halls of the Old Trafford museum forever more.
Now call me a traditionalist but I believe the game of football is best played when it is 11 v 11. Try telling that to former Man City standout Joey F’N Barton. With the weight of the QPR fans hopes resting on his shoulders the madman only went and got himself sent off on the 56th minute as his team fought for survival. To be fair to him if I had the opportunity to elbow Carlos Tevez in the face, I most certainly would of.
Former Man City boss and Manchester United legend Mark Hughes was in the dugout for Rangers which somewhat added intrigue, he had something to prove to his former bosses. Stopping them for securing the title after getting the sack would no doubt make the game a bit more personal. Paddy Kenny must off taking insults hurled his way by United fans after that weak first goal personally because the Irishman pulled off some magnificent saves to keep his side in the game. City kept pressing, desperate for the win, only hit on the counter attack on the 66th minute. A wonderful cross from Armand Traore landed perfectly on the head of Jamie Mackie to rescue themselves from relegation and hand United the trophy.
The next twenty minutes for me were a blur as I anxiously paced around my house, hoping for the next 25 minutes to pass by in an instant. I distinctly remember just sitting in the bathroom for at most three minutes but it felt like an eternity. Stoke had drawn level in their game versus Bolton on the 77th minute and Arsenal were beating West Brom 3-2, so the vibe of the room was good but tense. We were 15 minutes away from everyone being in a celebratory mood. A pause for a second when it looked like Edin Dzeko had equalised , only to discover the ball went into the side netting. I once again left the room.
I returned on the 90th minute to see City take a corner and it landed on the head of Super Mario Ballotelli, from six yards out, Paddy Kenny produced a great save. Time was running out, four minutes remained, but as a Manchester United fan, you are always aware of what can be accomplished in 4 minutes of injury time.
Then it happened, another corner, another header, a different player. Edin Dzeko ferociously put the ball in the net with all the angst and anger built up from being in this position with three minutes of the season left. Speaking of leaving , the colour left my body, as the blood drained from my face. The sudden realisation that this game is written in the stars. QPR didn’t have it in them anymore, sure they were secure with Bolton and Stoke draw game confirmed. Jay Bothroyd compounded my fears when right after kickoff he just booted the ball to the Man City half, literally gifting them another chance at attack. Before I knew it
The Citizens had recovered from 2–1 down with 2 stoppage-time goals, claiming their first Premier League title and snatching it from the grasps of their fiercest rivals Manchester United. I was in a state of shock at what just transpired, a roller-coaster of emotions better then any Hollywood thriller. Forget cinematic universes, the world of sports has a history and lore like no other. Each player has their own origin, each battle leads into the next before reaching an epic crescendo in the closing moments of the season. Despite the heartbreak of the day for me personally, this was a day I will always remember.
They are some things you do in life fun at the time but you never really look back on them too fondly, like roller-coasters. However there are times in your life when you say to yourself while experiencing it that I never want to go through this again, but in years to come and you would give anything to experience a day like that exhilarating feeling. This was one of those days. This is why I love sports, this is why I love football.