What a great season! After a long campaign which, at times, threatened to end in disappointment, Manchester City were crowned Premier League Champions on Sunday, ending their 44 year wait for the league title. Few, if any, could have predicted the dramatic fashion in which the title was clinched at the death, including myself. Although I predicted silverware this season, I was way off the mark in terms of the grandeur of what City ended up with:
Premier League: predicted 2nd, finished as Champions.
Champions League: predicted quarter-finals, finished at group stage.
FA Cup: predicted 5th round, finished at 3rd round.
League Cup: predicted Winners, finished at semi-finals.
In spite of my flimsy predictions, it has come to that stage of the season to take stock and look back at the highlights of an unforgettable and historic campaign. In a similar vein to the nauseatingly blinkered Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, I have a number of categories.
Player of the Season
An extremely difficult decision given that players in all positions have excelled throughout the season. If you were to ask me tomorrow it is likely I would select three different players.
1st: Sergio Aguero
In recent years, City have bought strikers of high prestige who have not cut the mustard. Not Sergio. He is the real deal. With great skill, a fantastic attitude and the frightening potential to get even better, I have to include Aguero in the top three.
2nd: Yaya Toure
Simply indispensable. City are not the same without him as was proven when he left for the African Cup of Nations in January and February. Nothing beats watching the versatile midfielder running at speed with the opposition quaking in their boots.
3rd: Gareth Barry
Despite his advancing years, Barry is a mainstay in Mancini’s midfield. Solid and consistent, he has kept Nigel De Jong on the periphery of the starting 11 for most of the season, with little room for argument. Enough said.
Game of the Season
Though the QPR game won the title, the game itself was not the best so I have another category, “Moment of the Season”, to account for that. With so many great performances, it is a difficult choice to narrow to three games, apart from the obvious.
1st: Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City – 23rd October 2011
City beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford and it could have been worse for them. The flurry of goals proved decisive in the goal difference that won City the League Championship.
Fact: This game was the first time that United conceded more than 5 goals at home since December 1978.
2nd: Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City – 28th August 2011
I despise Tottenham and Harry Redknapp. Destroying Spurs on their own turf, thanks to an Edin Dzeko 4 goal haul, was a personal highlight.
Fact: In this game, Samir Nasri provided 3 assists, 2 more than he provided in the entire of his last season at Arsenal.
3rd: Porto 1-2 Manchester City – 16th February 2012
It was a classic European away performance against the holders of the Europa League with astute defending and two vital goals to take into the second leg. It was a good contest in which neither team flaked that I enjoyed. City were deserved winners.
Fact: This game represented Porto’s first competitive defeat at home since 23rd February 2011.
Goal of the Season
1st: James Milner versus Aston Villa – 15th October 2011
Stunning! A beautifal 3 pass move using the majority of the pitch. Thwack!
2nd: Mario Balotelli (2nd) versus Manchester United – 23rd October 2011
Pass and move, pass and move. Lovely intricate passing that calved open United’s defence. That was liquid football!
3rd: Joe Hart versus Aston Villa – 12th February 2012
It wasn’t a goal, it wasn’t even a shot. It was a save that felt like a goal (it didn’t). However, in the interest of proving that one can claim that just about any moment throughout the season won City the league (I have already in this article: the 6-1 over United adding to the crucial goal difference), I am claiming this last minute fingertip save to deny Darren Bent won City the league.
Moment of the Season
This is obvious. After all, it was the moment of a lifetime for thousands of people. City winning the Premier League Championship 13 seconds after Manchester United had kicked the final ball of their season (for clarity, this is the actual moment City won the league). Words cannot describe….
Words, that cannot describe, by Rob Toole