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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Ferguson’

It was the kind of drama usually reserved for the pages of Hollywood blockbusters. Yesterday (Sunday the 13th of May 2012) was the last day of the English Premiership football season. As I have blogged recently, the title had come down to a two-horse race between Manchester United, the most successful football team ever in the history of English football, and their cross-town rivals Manchester City.

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“Fergie time” is a reference to the number of games Man U have won in the dying seconds

Manchester United were playing away to Sunderland, and Manchester City were at home to Queens Park Rangers. QPR were in their own battle for survival in the Premiership. Both City and United went 1-0 up in their respective games quite early, and City also gained a one-man advantage after QPR’s thug player Joey Barton was sent off. But, with only 10 men, QPR not only equalised, but went one goal ahead, to lead 2-1 away from home.

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The winner of the title swung from being Man City to Man Uni and back to Man City as the drama unfolded

Manchester United held on to their tenuous 1-0 away lead, and finished their game with a 1-0 victory, enough to secure them the title unless Man City should win their game. As the final whistle was blown on Man U’s game, the score at the Etihad Stadium was still 1-2 to QPR. With Man City’s game going into added time, surely the title was going to elude them and go to Man U for the 20th time.

There then unfolded possibly the most dramatic 3 minutes in the history of English football. Deep into added time, Manchester City first equalised through Dzeko, but this equaliser still left the title in Man U’s hands. Less than 4 minutes later they unbelievably scored a third goal to win the game 3-2, and hence to win the Premiership title on gaol difference. Alex Ferguson, and the other Manchester United personnel, went from thinking they had retained the title to realising their “noisy neighbours” had stolen it from them in the death, in the space of 3 minutes.

As a Chelsea supporter, I’m pleased the Premiership title has gone to a club that hasn’t won the top prize in English football since 1968. Having either Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal win it every year has not been good for English football. With Man City possibly on the verge of rivalling their more famous neighbours, and Spurs also finishing in the top four this year, I’m hopeful we may see the Premiership becoming a 6 or 7 team race, rather than the 3-team race that it’s been of late.

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Alex Ferguson plays down his City rivals’ achievement

Earlier in the season, Alex Ferguson referred to Man City as their “noisy neighbours“. After having the title snatched from his hands yesterday, Sir Alex made it clear that Man U are still THE TEAM in Manchester, with Man City still a long way from rivalling the Red Devils’ success.

Roberto Mancini with the Premier League trophy

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The Man City team and fans celebrate their first league title since 1968

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It is going to be the biggest night of the season for the English Premiership

There is a joke that the unofficial greeting in the US state of New Mexico is “red or green?”, implying that each conversation opens with asking whether someone would prefer red or green chilli peppers. Is the unofficial greeting in the northwest England city of Manchester “red or blue?”, to determine the allegiance to one of the city’s two football teams, Manchester United or Manchester City.

The title contenders - it is a two horse race

The red half of the city has long been dominant over the blue half. Mahchester United became the most successful team in English football league history in 2010-2011 season by wining the Premiership a record 19 times, surpassing Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles, which they had achieved in 1988. In 1988, Manchester United had only 7 to their name! The 12 titles since 1992 have been largely down to the most successful manager ever in English football, the Scottish (Glaswegian) Sir Alex Ferguson.

A few years ago, in 2008, the Manchester City football club was bought by one of the richest men in the World, Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, who has given the club nearly unlimited money to buy the best players in the World, and to recruit one of the game’s up-and-coming stars of management, Roberto Mancini. One of the stated aims was for Manchester City to be able to challenge their neighbour’s dominance of the domestic game. 3-4 years on from his buying the club, Manchester City are now vying with their more successful neighbours to win this year’s Premiership title, a title Manchester City have never previously won (they last won the old English League title in 1968).

Where the title goes this season will probably all come down to the match this evening between them. Going into the game, Manchester United have a 3 points advantage over Manchester City, but if City win tonight at home in the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City will go above United on equal points but with a better goal difference. With only two matches remaining for each club after tonight, if Manchester City can win all their 3 remaining games including the derby with United this evening, the title will be theirs.

The Premier League as of Sunday evening

There has not been a closer race for the title in several years, and to have one between such bitter rivals is what sporting contests are all about. The English FA are expecting viewing figures for tonight’s game to be over 650 million people worldwide, which will probably be a record. I will be in running club, but by the time I finish the game should still be on, so I will listen to the 2nd half on the radio.

Who will have the bragging rights on Tuesday morning, the red half of Manchester, or the blue half? As my team is Chelsea, I am neutral. Who do you want to win?

****UPDATE****
Manchester City won 1-0, in a tense game. The title is now theirs to lose.

The front page of the BBC Sports website

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