As much as Manchester United did not deserve to win the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, Manchester City deserved every bit of it to be crowned as first-time champions, as the premier league completes 20 years since its inception. United fans would now know, what it’s like to have their hearts crushed and trampled upon by a thousand elephants.
The drama on the final day of the league season, couldn’t have been any better than a Alfred Hitchcock psychological thriller.
As an exasperated and desperate Roberto Mancini sent on Mario Balotelli – a player who he couldn’t trust until today – when QPR was leading 2-1 and down to 10 men, the City fans knew they were chasing the Loch Ness monster as they looked to score two goals within 25 minutes from full time.
Sergio Aguero scored the winning goal deep into injury time (90+4) after Edin Dzeko equalised two minutes earlier.
Aguero should have been stretchered off early in the second half when QPR captain and former City player, Joey Barton burst a vein in his head and kneed the Argentine from behind immediately after getting sent off for elbowing, Carlos Tevez. However, Barton’s best efforts to injure Aguero failed as the Argentine put to rest the 44 years of pain and suffering that the Blue half of Manchester had endured, living in the shadow of their illustrious neighbours.
If there ever was a sign of Manchester City winning the title, it was when United lost their face after the 6-1 home defeat, and the belief was strengthened after United were beaten again in the reverse fixture.
“It’s disappointing to lose the league. It’s a cruel way to have lost it, but you have to congratulate the other team,” said a distraught Rio Ferdinand after news reached ‘The Stadium of Light’ that City won deep in injury time.
Yes it was cruel to lose the title for the first time in the league history on goal difference. But it was still City’s best team that triumphed over Manchester United’s worst side in 44 years.
However worse United might have been this season, they have shown tremendous improvement since last season.
Man Utd’s poor away record was a matter of worry last season, as they won just won five, lost four, and drew 10 games on the road. This season they won 13, lost three, and drew three. Moreover, they conceded 25 goals away from home the previous season and just 14 were conceded on away trips this season.
The goal difference has improved this season by +15 over 2010-11 and so has the number of goals scored.
Despite Van der Sar leaving Man Utd last season, the number of clean sheets have improved significantly towards the end of season despite a poor start by David de Gea.
|Team||Clean Sheets||Failed to Score||Goals Scored||Goals Conceded|
|Manchester United (2011-12)||20||3||89||33|
|Manchester United (2010-11)||15||5||78||37|
Man Utd were handicapped by injuries to key players in the first half of the season whereas Manchester City only had players missing either due to African Cup of Nations or dugout squabbles.
|MANCHESTER UNITED||7||C Smalling||Groin Strain||no return date|
|D Welbeck||Ankle/Foot Injury||no return date|
|P Pogba||Ankle/Foot Injury||no return date|
|F Macheda||Ankle/Foot Injury||no return date|
|Anderson||Hamstring Injury||no return date|
|D Fletcher||Bowel Condition||no return date|
|N Vidic||ACL Knee Injury||no return date|
“I think this year we have had to use our squad to the maximum and that bodes well for the future. That’s one positive we can take from this, I don’t think there is another team that could have coped with things the way we have. It’s no excuse. Congratulations to the other team,” said Rio Ferdinand after the Sunderland game.
The points table below is how the table would have looked like if no incorrect decisions had been made by the referees in any of the matches. It is calculated using the decisions that directly affect goals e.g. goals ruled out for offside, corners incorrectly given that lead to goals, whether or not the ball has crossed the line, penalties etc. Updated till 37 games. Taken from Debatable Decisions.
PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
Stats in favour of Man Utd won’t take away the title from City, regardless of all this, Man Utd have made for the exit with egg on its face. Sir Alex Ferguson’s team can only bounce back from this defeat next season, but the memories of this cruel twist to the title shall not be forgotten by anyone in this part of the city.