Belfast Telegraph

Romantics? No, Blues just made fewest mistakes

By Tim Rich

The songs of Manchester City are essentially sad, wistful things. Their battle hymn, Blue Moon, depicts someone alone with their cigarette, "without a love of my own". We're Not Really Here is about their season adrift in the third tier of English football.

Towards the end, as it became clear that not even the old Manchester City would screw this equation up, they began chanting "Joleon Lescott – he's top of the League" to emphasise the ridiculousness of it all.

When the crowd poured on to the pitch on the final whistle, a few carried a banner that read "Oops we did it again". The pitch invasion itself was an indication that even after four trophies in three years, Manchester City are not a club that really expects these triumphs.

During United's long years of dominance, they never celebrated on the pitch at Old Trafford.

Finally, the last spectator was cleared and the stadium sang something altogether more stirring, a version of Hey Jude. The irony that the Beatles came from Liverpool was lost.

Manchester City are not romantic champions. Liverpool captured the imagination more. Chelsea, who beat Arsenal, Liverpool and City home and away, were on their day the best team. Manchester City, who led the table for two weeks in a nine-month season, won it because they made the fewest mistakes.

It was not an afternoon where anything was in question.

The Manchester City chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak, gazed down from the stands at the party going on below. When he appointed Manuel Pellegrini it was with the expectation of five trophies in as many years. Given that Pellegrini had not won any silverware in his years in Europe, this was quite an ask. He has won two already.

"No I cannot say it was the best moment of my career," the City manager reflected. "I had five years at Villarreal, where it is really impossible to win the league. I managed to finish second and third in La Liga and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. I nearly won the league at Real Madrid. I always think the way you win the title is more important.

"We had the conviction to play in a certain style. The week we lost at Liverpool and drew with Sunderland was not a good one but we always believed."

Nevertheless, the bulk of the players who won the title for him were signed by previous boss, Roberto Mancini.

With a sense of theatre few imagined he possessed, one by one Pellegrini took them off so they could receive the ovations due to them – Edin Dzeko, David Silva and Yaya Toure. The goals were scored by two others at the heart of this club, Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany.

None are English, none were bought by Pellegrini and Roy Hodgson thought his time as England manager would be better spent in Southampton. If the English players wanted a group photo in the dressing room to celebrate the title, it would have been a selfie.

At the end Pellegrini found himself being thrown up in the air and caught by his own players.

There was a time when, under those circumstances, previous Manchester City managers would have been taken to hospital suffering from a serious back injury.

Belfast Telegraph


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