Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City triumph was a fairytale script that no-one could have written

By Alan Green

Any argument that I should ‘quit while I’m ahead’ doesn’t stand up. You see, the longer I’m ‘around’ the likelier I am to witness, first hand, the extraordinary things that can happen in football.

Sunday’s manic conclusion to the game at the Etihad was quickly likened to that at Anfield in 1989, the Nou Camp in 1999 and Istanbul in 2005, other occasions when football stretched credibility beyond hitherto unimaginable boundaries. And I have been commentating at all of them.

The first, when Michael Thomas scored the last-gasp goal that Arsenal needed to take the title from Liverpool on ‘goals scored’, was in the company of the late, great, Peter Jones: the last three have been with my dear friend Mike Ingham.

In the nicest possible way, Mike’s never quite forgiven me for having the good fortune to describe Sheringham’s and Solskjaer’s goals for Manchester United in that Champions League Final.

It was simply my turn to finish the commentary: as it was Mike’s on Sunday. He now has his own remarkable stoppage-time double on his CV. We’re even!

Mind you, not having to talk in those astonishing closing minutes allowed me to pay attention to the raw emotions of the City fans in our vicinity.

Bill Shankly was quoted out of context when he said “football’s more important than life or death” but you might have made a good case for his defence seeing what I saw at the Etihad.

And one image will live with me forever.

With a few minutes of the regular ninety still to play, one very old and clearly ailing man, probably in his late-eighties, made his way cautiously, with the aid of a walking stick, towards an exit.

He’ll have been one of the few City supporters in the ground old enough to have witnessed the scenes of 45 years ago. He left the stadium still hurting thattypical City, they’d blown it

He won’t have been too far away though when a huge roar greeted Dzeko’s headed equaliser and still close enough to be physically shaken by the crescendo of noise that accompanied Aguero’s title-winner.

Any disappointment at not still being there will have been assuaged by the smile on his face.

I was very pleased that once Sir Alex had had a little moan about QPR playing with ten men for thirty minutes and querying the five minutes of added time — I was commentating when Steve Bruce scored twice in SEVEN minutes of added time at Old Trafford against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 to deliver your first title — the United manager was quick to acclaim City’s achievement.

He knows better than anyone what it takes to win championships.

So, is that as good as it gets for me this season? As I fly to Munich on Friday, is it possible for Chelsea, bereft of players through suspension and injury, to replicate the astounding achievement of that night in the Nou Camp? 2012, that is, not 1999. That would be hard on Spurs.

Perhaps there’s one more ‘miracle’ ahead for England in Kiev? No, get a grip Alan; I can see the men in white coats knocking on my front door.

Belfast Telegraph


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