Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City tear up title script

Last day thrills missing as Pellegrini's men enjoy a routine day at the office

By Steven Beacom

The stunning 2013-2014 Premier League season deserved a spectacular climax. Heck, given what had gone in the months before, it stood up, shouted at the top of its voice and demanded it.

Manchester City weren't listening.

What should have happened was them losing dramatically to West Ham and Steven Gerrard smacking home an injury time penalty in front of the Kop to beat Newcastle, taking Liverpool to a first league championship in 24 years.

Instead of the extraordinary, the final day at the office became all very routine.

City polished off a comfortable 2-0 victory over West Ham at the Ethiad to claim the Premier League crown rendering Liverpool's 2-1 win over a Newcastle side, who ended the fixture with nine men, immaterial as far as top spot was concerned.

By the break, with City one up and Liverpool one down, everyone knew the title race was over. No miracle this time unlike in 2012 when the 'noisy neighbours' scored twice in the dying seconds against QPR to top Manchester United on goal difference.

That finish was as crazy as Roberto Mancini's time at City as manager.

The way the Blues clinched this one reflected their boss too... cool, calm and collected. Manuel Pellegrini may have had some teething problems in English football but after just a year in charge the Chilean is now one of the club's most successful managers... having won the league title and League Cup.

Not bad for starters and with Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva, Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and the monumental Yaya Toure in his squad, along with a few high quality summer arrivals, Champions League glory must be Pellegrini's next target.

Had Liverpool fans been told at the start of this campaign they would be in Europe's elite competition next season, the Kopites would have been jumping for joy.

It's a sign of their staggering progress under the astute leadership of Brendan Rodgers that they ended up 'devastated', to use Gerrard's word, that they didn't become champions.

The football Liverpool played for most of the season was exhilarating with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and captain Gerrard all contributing to a mighty effort.

In a thrilling title battle involving Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Arsenal, the Reds put themselves in with a glorious opportunity to move from seventh last term to first this, but after 11 wins in a row a Jose Mourinho tactical masterclass at Anfield and a Gerrard slip allowing Demba Ba to score in Chelsea's 2-0 victory undermined their bid.

Then came the astonishing Monday night affair at Crystal Palace when the Eagles soared to a 3-3 draw after being 3-0 down, smashing Liverpool dreams.

City were strong enough to take advantage, using their experience of previous Premier League success.

Some will say with Liverpool's defensive frailties – conceding 50 league goals – they blew the title race. More accurate is that the Reds, scoring 101 goals, made it what it was... the best we've seen in years.

Bar the victory at Anfield, Chelsea faded in the run-in as Mourinho's fury with referees increased with every disappointment while his 'specialist in failure' adversary Arsene Wenger ended up smiling, securing Champions League football again for Arsenal after seeing off a spirited Everton challenge for fourth... and the Gunners have the FA Cup final to come.

Sharing equal billing with a terrific title race was the tumultuous tale of Manchester United and their new boss David Moyes. Right from the off this relationship was doomed to failure with early defeats and rumblings of discontent. It was as if someone had set these two up on a blind date completely failing to see that there would be no chemistry. That someone was Sir Alex Ferguson.

On the upside for David he'll probably be back in top flight work soon with Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Pepe Mel, Tim Sherwood and Paul Lambert all in danger of getting the boot and that's just for starters. Note: Change does not always work. Fulham, Norwich and Cardiff had seven bosses between them this season and were relegated.

Don't you just love the Premier League!

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