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Manchester City Eliminates 44 Years of Frustration With Championship

Salomon Fuentes |
May 15, 2012 | 5:16 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Manchester City celebrates an EPL title. (W Hannabuss/Creative Commons)
Manchester City celebrates an EPL title. (W Hannabuss/Creative Commons)
At the start of Survival Sunday, the stage was set for Manchester City to cruise to its first English Premier League championship in 44 years.

City was atop the EPL standings for months, but in April found themselves in an eight-point deficit in April to their nemesis and crosstown rival Manchester United. City looked dead in the water.

Yet after a stunning surge in the standings that culminated with a 1-0 victory against United in the Manchester Derby, City only needed to best lowly Queens Park Rangers (QPR) in the last match of the season to be crowned Premier League champions.

A goal by City's Pablo Zabaleta in the 39th minute seemed to assure The Blues that of that destiny.

No one bothered to give QPR the script, however, and a goal in the 48th minute by QPR’s ever-dangerous striker Djibril Cisse put City in uncharted waters on its home pitch.

Fortune seemed to favor City when QPR midfielder Joey Barton was handed a red card for elbowing City’s Carlos Tevez in the 55th minute.

But even down to 10 men, QPR was able to stymie the Premier League’s best offensive attack for the better part of the afternoon. Then Queens Park Rangers' Jamie Mackie capitalized off of a surprise counter-attack by heading the ball into the net in the 66th minute, putting QPR ahead 2-1 and seemingly leaving City as runner-up.

Though City had multiple chances with 19 corner kick opportunities in addition to holding a 62/38 advantage in time of possession in the match, nothing found net.

With regulation time completed and United leading Sunderland 1-0, City seemed doomed to yet another heartbreak in front of 48,000 of their long-suffering fans at Etihad Stadium.

Some fans began tearing up or leaving the stadium as hope waned and only five minutes of injury time separated United from their record 20th championship.

But in a season full of surprises, City saved the best one for last. In the 92nd minute, City’s Edin Dzeko finally broke through the QPR defense with a goal off of a header to tie the game.

Still, with only three minutes of injury time remaining, finding the net again seemed an insurmountable task.

At that same moment, United wrapped up their win at Sunderland and a few players and United fans in attendance began celebrating.

In their most desperate moment, the oft-maligned Mario Balotelli slid a pass to Sergio Aguero who dribbled past a defender and rocketed the ball into the net in the 94th minute.

The subsequent euphoria in Etihad was a deserved zenith after years of frustration and being relegated to being the "other team" in the same city as their much more successful rival, United.

City has often been criticized for the exorbitant amount of money it has spent on players. Under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, City has spent a net amount of £266 million ($425 million) on acquisitions after sales in the last three years.

This has led some to suggest that City would be purchasing a championship, even as this is increasingly the unfortunate reality of a league without any real spending limits in place and where the idea of parity has long been removed — 45 teams have competed in the Premier League since 1992 but only five different clubs have won a championship.

Most of the critics were silenced Sunday as no one could say that City did not earn their trophy. QPR gave City everything they could handle, and then some. The adversity they faced in the second half gave a team and their fans a true identity and an astonishing finish not seen in English football since 1989.

If this is a turning point for the franchise, City owes much to its manager Roberto Mancini and his ability to manage a team full of egos as well as his willingness to mend relationships with Tevez and Balotelli—both of whom proved essential in the end.

In truth, even the most diehard City fans would admit that the amount of money spent has been unsavory but so too have the 44 years between winning it all.

As for the Hollywood ending? 

For City fans, it should prove to be the sweetest and long-lasting victory of them all.


Reach Salomon by email.



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