Photo credit: Reuters
There was a dream in the city of Manchester that one day championships would cease being colored red and would instead shine a bright sky blue. Not since 1968 had something like this occurred, when the football club Manchester City last won the league title. It had been an interminable reign by Manchester United, a monopoly of sorts. But today, Edin Dzeko and Sergio "El Kun" Aguero delivered two sublime goals to lift the trophy for City and change the landscape of the English Premier League.
Today's finale was much more than just Manchester City's match versus Queen's Park Rangers. Indeed, there were another nine games occurring simultaneously. And unlike virtually every sport in America, the bottom dwellers always have something to play for: survival from relegation. So, as we watched Manchester City score a last minute, stoppage time goal, our thoughts--as Americans--were on Bolton Wanderers, Tim Ream and Stuart Holden. Their failure to win the game versus Stoke City saw them miss out on the necessary points to capitalize on Manchester City's win. The Trotters will now play in the Championship during the 2012-2013 season whilst QPR will remain in the top flight.
The Premier League finale wasn't without other moments of drama. A solid Manchester United had begun to celebrate yet another title under Sir Alex Ferguson when they got word of City's incredible comeback. Tied in points, a superior goal differential meant their crosstown rivals would lift the trophy instead. But there's more to play for in the Premier League. In contention are also spots in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League. Arsenal almost missed out on third place and Tottenham secured another try at the tournament while Newcastle United would settle for the Europa League.
Manchester City is a team built from the top down with serious cash from the Abu Dhabi group. This investment included names such as Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Samr Nasri, David Silva, Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, Kompany, among others. And yet Manchester City, always a classic football club, saw some serious trouble as recently as the late 90s when they were relegated two divisions down. Since then they rekindled, restructured and revolutionized play with Roberto Mancini. And yes, money did buy the players but it took talent to manage talent and time to let things come to fruition.
For us, the impartial fans of the game, today's slew of matches--all available on FOX networks and ESPN--were nothing short of a spectacular sendoff for the most thrilling season in world football: record setting number of goals, record-setting points for Manchester City, the drama of Tevez and Balotelli, the rise of players like Cisse, Welbeck and Jelavic, the revindication of Clint Dempsey, and the rise of Eric Lichaj and Tim Ream as American defenders in the best league in the world.
We held our breath today as we heard news about Bolton scoring while Manchester City was winning the game. When QPR scored all of Manchester turned red with United. When QPR scored again the sky blue started fading to night black. When Dzeko scored the equalizer hope was regained by the faithful and when Aguero found the back of the net even those that had forsaken their beloved team reset their tears from mourning to joy. The players enjoyed the game and soccer lovers thanked the athletes on the pitch for their commitment, desire, fantasy, calling them stars.