ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Manchester City
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Manchester City
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 05/14/2012

Some 24 hours later and I'm still numb. This is the one that matters. I couldn't give the proverbial rodent's rump about the Champions League. Never have. But the league; this is something a little special.

I had, truth be told, started to write this column after QPR scored their second goal. I'd been convinced ever since Mark Hughes joined Rangers that not only was the Premier League title going to come down to this game, but that Hughes would exact his revenge by helping United to the title. I never had any confidence that Sunderland would do anything other than lose and it would have been so utterly typical of City to have done that hard bit by beating Newcastle only to lose or draw at home to QPR. Nice to be wrong!

Rangers of course were fighting tooth and nail to stay up and there seemed a certain symmetry that as City scored two goals in the closing seconds to win the title bringing back more than a little reminder of that crazy day against Gillingham, that it was Gillingham's manager on that day, Tony Pulis, whose Stoke City were drawing with Bolton to keep QPR up. It's a funny old game, as has been said more than once.

Of course the win brought out the bitters. Those like Sir Alex Ferguson who claimed that City don't have history; childish really as anyone with even a slight knowledge of English football is aware of the great City teams of the '50s and '60s. Certainly United have recent history on their side, but then they've been an exceptional team and squad. And of course there are also the mercenaries comment about City which shows at least that the fans of United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool have a sense of humour.

Every club buys success as United have shown effectively over the years. Their current side against Sunderland included David De Gea (£17m), Rio Ferdinand (£30m), Patrice Evra (£5m), Phil Jones (£18m), Michael Carrick (£18m), Ashley Young (£20m), Antonio Valencia (£16m) and Wayne Rooney (£25m) with Dimitar Berbatov (£30m), Nani (£17m) and Javier Hernandez (£7m) on the bench. United bought their recent history. I don't have a problem with that, it's the nature of football. So please, enough with the mercenaries comment from rival managers and the typical gutter press not least because as the "richest club in the world" City are continually held to ransom over higher fees that their competitors pay.

It was nice to see Mancini and Tevez share a hug on the field. Regardless of what occurred this season, winning the league does not happen if Tevez doesn't join the club. There had to be a player like Tevez to start the process. That being said, I don't see any way Tevez remains at the club. The past few games, where Tevez was an important part, was a marriage of convenience for both sides; Tevez to show he can still be the player of last season, Mancini knowing that he needed the fourth forward having unwisely not bought in the summer.

But still, all water under the bridge. Manchester City, Premier League Champions 2011-2012 and thoroughly deserving.

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Posted by Cody on 05/14/2012

congrats wallace! i hope the joys of sport could help alleviate some of your recent woes. what a brilliant game and what a brilliant player that kun aguero is. late goals against villareal, porto, lisbon and now here. best signing ever. CTID

Posted by Michael on 05/14/2012

What a nail biting match, Wallace - it was almost impossible to look at the TV during that last 30 minutes.
Once the excitment of the moment has died down, I would love to see you post your thoughts on
1. Who you think should stay / go / arrive before next season.
2. Who you think will actually stay / go / arrive for next season.

Happy off season!

Wallace Reply Yeah... I've got more than a few thoughts on that. In some ways City were fortunate this year, down cycles for United, Chelsea and Liverpool with injuries hurting Arsenal and the England job Spurs. It's not that a team will win the League with more points, but the top eight are going to be closer...

Posted by David C on 05/14/2012

BLUETIFULL....Watched us win it in '68 and now again...FANTASTIC.
Congratulations to players for keeping their COOL & FOCUS during Barton meltdown, could easily had one of our superb blues sent off.
Looking forward to many more, starting with NEXT YEAR.

Posted by Pushkal on 05/14/2012

I started supporting city from Shinawatra days and one reason behind that was their fans..yesterday I was so happy to see those crying faces turned into happiest..ohh I maybe am the only fan from India...
but I felt I am sitting in that stadium...congratulations all sky blues!!I am proud to be a part of you people..

Posted by Mike on 05/14/2012

LFC fan here, I agree 100%, & it's just the same generic sour grapes Chelsea has been getting for a while too. People will say the same about Real Madrid except that it's different because of Real's history so everyone wants to go there anyways. The Ultimate goal for a player is to play for a team that wins all trophies and also get paid the most $ they can. When these aren't in balance, 1 will have to go up. City had to pay very high premiums because they weren't a Man U household name, hadn't won everything recently, were not in the champions league and therefore did not get the discount big name teams get (Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, even Liverpool still).

What city has done now is bridge the gap so they don't have to pay so much over to get players to join their team because they are a household name now. & it was the same when Robinho came, players needed a name to say "hey, I could play for these guys maybe", & City has bought very very well on the current team

Posted by Alan on 05/14/2012

You did it in true City style...doing your best to give it back to us!! Except this time you stumbled over the line!! The scenes of celebration were like us back in 1993. I have to say I enjoyed watching Mancini (going bananas)and all the City fans for most of that second half. In the end though, well done, at least it's not Liverpool. I can say that, Tevez and Balotelli aside, most of City's players are likeable people. Us winning the league every year would be boring, but I will enjoy it more next year.

Wallace Reply And United will be better next year. There's a young core, De Gea, Jones, Cleverly, Rooney, Hernandez that is going to get better...

Posted by alen on 05/14/2012

i jus wan say. this is a team. not a bunch of mercenaries. major credit for mancini controlin these big egos and makin them believe in each other. and the players have been amazing. a never quit attitude is instild in this team and they believe. better then the title better then nethin. this team believes in its qualities n that starts from up top

Posted by Jerry on 05/14/2012

City's memorable victory made a major imprint on the worldwide audience yesterday. It was a victory that will live in the minds of many who follow and don't follow the sport. It is said that Arsenal's "Untouchable" season was one of the most, if not the most important moment for the league in recent years. Does City's miracle eclipse that? Is City winning the league the best thing ever to happen to the league?

Posted by Parker on 05/14/2012

I only started following city right in August but I have been behind them 100%. I'm not one of those bandwagoners, I picked city cause they r good, I like their squad, uniforms, and fans, and I hate united. I feel like they've been my team forever, and they always will be. All my American sports teams haven't won anything in my lifetime do in that way I feel like a true city man. Anyways I like your intelligent writing and would like to see it more often. I also want to hear your thoughts on Financial Fair Play and our chances of avoiding it.

Posted by Neil Burton on 05/14/2012

I agree with you Wallace about winning the EPL, something I never thought I would see, and for me more meaningful than Europe. Until last years FA Cup, didn't even think we could win anything except the odd play off final.

Having money is one thing but buying the right players another. mancini got it so right with Aguero - just when you needed that class he delivered.

Keep evolving the squad now and like Kompany indicated, can we not just win it without causing blood pressure to go to extremes.

Interested on key areas to recuit for next year.

Just off to watch that last 5 mins again.

Posted by Y3 on 05/14/2012

Easy not to care about Champions League when you don't even qualify for the knockout round.

Wallace Reply I've never cared for the Champions League. Give me the European Cup any day.

Posted by TD on 05/14/2012

Chelsea fan here, Wallace. What a fantastic day for City! When I couldn't stand my team's woeful performances under AVB I drowned my sorrows at City, and I wasn't disappointed. City are the team to beat for the foreseeable future, not least because the opposition will be racing against the fair play schedule to beeef up their expensively assembled squads, and still need time for them to gel.

City had very few areas of weakness besides RM who destabilised the team at various stages of the campaign through perceptible favouritism. For instance, Tevez (at the start), Balotelli (next), then Silva and Aguero (at the end despite his memorable goal) all took turns to misbehave or lose form but he took him too long to whip them into line or bench them. City still need to forge a recognisable strike partnership that is good on the ground and in the air to avoid Barca's plan B dilemma.

Well done City. I'm sure even level-headed MANU supporters agree you were the best.

Posted by M Sutton. on 05/14/2012

Enjoy it Blue!

This City is ours....... :)

Posted by Stan on 05/14/2012

If City was just a squad of mercenaries, they wouldn't have scored so many late goals to snatch wins or salvage draws.

Remember when Bellamy belly ached about Mancini's tough training regimen? That regimen allowed City to crush ManU late at Old Trafford and pile up goals against Tottenham and Norwich (creating the goal differential) and keep the pressure up against a valiant QPR.

Like you, I had settled into the "typical City" funk as they fell behind in the second half and was stunned when they took it up a notch in those final 5 or 6 minutes and wrested victory from the match and the crown from United.

I watch those final five minutes over and over and over. Still gives me chills.

ManU will be better next season, so City has to sharpen the squad still more. Chelsea figures to spend a lot, too.

But the ghosts have been banished. Glorious chapters wait to be written. Joy bathes me like warm sunshine.

Posted by Matthew on 05/15/2012

What can one say? I was on the edge of my seat from minute 1 till the sweet sweet finale. There was I thought an interesting symmetry in the comeback: Dzeko & Aguero, who got the year off to such a rampaging start, closing it with a pair of title-winning goals. I have watched sports for nearly 30 years now and have seen several miracles. Never seen one that rivaled yesterday. Have to admit I questioned Mancini at times, including yesterday when I was screaming at the TV for him to pull an obviously injured Yaya. Yet, as always, the Italian knows his squad best, and Yaya ends up assisting on the 1st goal. Do you think they keep Balotelli? For all his (earned) criticism, he made an impact in his brief time on the pitch and his hard work kept the ball alive for Aguero to be the hero. If Hazard is brought in then someone (Tevez/Dzeko/Balotelli) has to go. Who is most likely, Carlos or Mario? Not to dwell too much on tomorrow, mind you. Title-winners today is just too delicious to pass up.

Posted by uche agwu on 05/15/2012

Congratulations Man City! Never in my lifetime have I seen a season finale end in such dramatic circumstance. I am an AC Milan faithful, but the fact that I hate Man U with a passion fuelled my drive for City. Why is every one o sure Hazard would move to Eastland, has any bid been made?

Posted by Hankinsohl on 05/15/2012

Congratulations City fans! What a season! And what a final game!

Thanks for taking the time to write such interesting, well-balanced articles Wallace. I'm sorry for the losses you suffered personally this year; hopefully City's season has provided some solace.

Posted by Maxwell D on 05/15/2012

Maybe it's just the American in me, but I've seen this type of last-second heroics in American sports quite often throughout my relatively short lifetime (however, City's effort ranks up there with some of my personal favorites). Strangely, much of the British media seem blown away by the fact that a Premier League season could go down to the last second (see: British version of PTI). I've only been following the EPL closely for a few seasons, but myself and friends watching in a pub in Chicago waited with baited breath till the very end. I know better than to ever turn a game off before the final blow of the whistle/horn.

Wonderful end to a wonderful season. This was the perfect example of how beautifully exciting sports can be.

Posted by Adithya on 05/15/2012

Why do you not care about the Champions League? It's a wonderful competition. OK the European Cup was before my time but once you get past the group stages (and those aren't a formality, as your neighbours found out against Basel) the ties are simply mouth-watering. Don't you want to see City play Real Madrid or Bayern Munich over two legs? I know I do.

Wallace Reply I have always preferred the format of the European Cup. League winners and defending EC champion and that's it. I don't actually like the two leg format. Much prefer the live and die by where the Cup tie is played of the FA Cup - and I miss the multiple replies that the FA Cup could have as well. None of this penalty nonsense.

Posted by Justin on 05/15/2012

i was working and couldn't watch the match until last night. knowing the result I still hurt myself jumping after Aguero scored. famous season for sure, and one that will always be remembered. my biggest concern was the lack of play from micah richards down the stretch? Pablo was the back up in the beginning of the year, but may have been our biggest asset at the end (well...YaYa may take some credit as well). Milner, AJ, Richards....core England players that didn't see the field in the last couple of weeks. Concerning. (I know you your thoughts on Milner not playing, but the others)

Posted by Steve on 05/15/2012

@TD... I'm not sure why you think Mancini showed favoritism to Silva and Kun. Silva has the ability to make a play at any time (I can't believe it was mario that set up Kun!) and Kun has been the most consistent player on the team next to Hart and Kompany. Those 2 needed to be on the pitch for the full 95', and personally I think mancini was brilliant this year. I think tevez will leave and we will see the pairing of balo and kun a lot next year, good understanding between the two even if balo is volatile at some times.

@Wallace... congratulations! I've been a city fan since '06. My college roommate (a huge united fan) got me into the sport and so I picked city to root against my buddy. I've grown to love the club, but have had to endure countless times seeing united snatch a goal in the dieing seconds to secure a draw or victory. Nothing was sweeter than seeing City rip the title away from Utd with Kun's goal in that manner, and and I can't wait for many more successful years!

Posted by Elisha on 05/16/2012


Best five minutes of my soccer watching life hands down! I sent you a message when we were down 3-1 to Sunderland about bringing back Tevez and if that result was retribution, turns out we ended up ok! Still I can't help but feel we need to do something about Tevez and Mario I never like those kinds of attitudes when you talk about long term stability of a team, especially in the locker room. That being said at least when Tevez is on the pitch he works his butt off, and maybe with guys like Hart and Kompany stepping up to be leaders of the team it will be ok.

Posted by HonestJohn on 05/16/2012

I think the term "mercenary," when used to describe City's players, is meant to point at the wages they earn compared to other clubs. I understand that buying quality players is part and parcel of the game, but City took a quick shortcut by offering wages no one can compete with. Which again, is perfectly acceptable as a competitive advantage in today's game. But it would be foolish to believe that any other team would overpay players to the extent that City does.

I'd say the biggest difference between City and everyone else is this: Players go to Arsenal to learn under Wenger, players go to United to play for Ferguson, but players have been going to City the past three seasons because they can earn more there than anywhere else. Christ, you offered Kaka half a million pounds a week a couple of seasons ago.

Posted by Peter on 05/16/2012

I have loved Man U since I was a 10 year old, in '68, but I have to say that we wouldn't have deserved the title. So well done. But, the difference between MU "buying" a title, and say Chelsea, Blackburn or City, is that United's money came from bums on seats, shirt sales and from sponsors wanting to be associated with the club. Not gifted money that can not be repaid. Yes it is the way things are now, all around the world there are wealthy owners tipping the scales, I have no problem with that at all. An honest look will show that United is massively in debt to the owners, it is not a cash cow that other clubs have. That's all

Posted by micky2times on 05/16/2012

City Champions 2012, still hard to believe. It was looking a bit dodgy when Yaya went off, but the most incredible 5 minutes of football, maybe we can do it a bit easier next year!!
City Player of the Year; Yaya.

Posted by sam, Jakarta on 05/16/2012

I'm an Arsenal fan but I'm happy City won the title. Reason? I like to see ex Arsenal players in City squad. If RVP does join City next season, I'll watch City more often.

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Wallace Poulter Wallace Poulter is an award winning video game producer, designer, industry consultant and writer. He has been a football fanatic since the day he moved in next door to Brian Clough. "Cloughie" being the acknowledged genius that he was promptly moved out and went to manage Derby. A serviceable senior school left-back in his youth, Poulter played one season of Sunday league football as a striker proving conclusively that he was a serviceable senior school left-back! Today Poulter remains involved with football as a licensed referee and most recently as a consultant on a Football MMO.

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