As the new season edges ever closer, I asked a selection of journalists and media figures what they made of the final day of last season, the title-winning 3-2 victory over QPR. Here is what they said:
Oliver Kay, Chief Football Correspondent for The Times newspaper: Brilliant. Awe-inspiring. Unforgettable. You didn’t have to be a City fan or an “ABU” to enjoy it. I just loved looking at the faces of the fans in front of the press box. To win in any title like that, never mind your first in 44 years, taking it away from your nearest rivals just when all seemed lost, must be incredible. I was delighted for the fans – especially people like my mate Gary, who I’ve known since we were both ten. He and his dad were there through all the bad times, like so many others, and it was great to know they were able to enjoy it together.
Daniel Taylor, Chief football writer for the Guardian and Observer: One of my abiding memories is being in the pressbox and a blonde-haired woman just running out with a few minutes to go, with her hand over her mouth, trying to hide the tears. There’s another bloke who sits just in front of me who I’m on nodding terms with and he’d walked out too. Ashen-faced, like a zombie. I’d sent my report on 90 minutes or so and I think the intro was “Manchester City will never be allowed to forget the day they blew the league title.” And then it happened. Christ. I just stood up and found myself gurgling the longest F-word in history. Bodies everywhere. I’ve been covering City since 1998 so I’ve seen the lows, or a lot of them, and I’ve never been to a match before where there was that kind of raw euphoria.
Gabriele Marcotti, writer and pundit for The Times, Corriere dello Sport, ESPN and more: It was certainly very dramatic. But personally, I don’t like awarding titles based on goal difference. Sure, it just so happens that the last two times it occurred it virtually came down to the last kick of the game (the other, of course, being Michael Thomas). But logic suggests it shouldn’t be that way. I know I’m in the minority, but, as a neutral, on those rare occasions when two teams finish level on points at the top, you should have a one-game playoff to determine the winner. It makes far more sense to me than head-to-head or goal difference. You’d get resolution. We used to do it that way in Serie A until recently, before fixture congestion and the like scuppered everything.
James Ducker, Northern Football Correspondent of The Times newspaper: It was one of those occasions that underlined why football is the best game in the world. Excitement, euphoria, heartbreak, tears, fears, beauty, ugliness, they were all in evidence that day. It was utterly exhilarating.
Ian Ladyman, Northern Football correspondent for the Daily Mail: I have covered football in the north-west for more than eleven years now and that was without doubt the most remarkable afternoon I have ever witnessed. With 15 minutes to go, City were going nowhere and I was beginning to wonder if they would ever recover from handing the title to United in such astonishing fashion. Half an hour later I was watching them carry the trophy around the field. In this job you tend to feel that you have seen everything before. Then an afternoon like that comes along to prove you wrong.
Alistair Mann, Match of the Day and CityTV commentator: It was stunning! If a scriptwriter had come up with the scenario that a club without a title for 44 years would pip their most bitter rivals to it with practically the last kick of a ten month season, he’d have been laughed out of the writers room! The fact that it was United who’d been denied it as well was even more dramatic especially as for a few seconds they thought they had won it. A whole generation of loyal City supporters had never seen a title victory and bearing in mind that around ten years earlier the club had been in the third tier of the game, it made the outpouring of emotion that much more intense. Even five games earlier City’s chances were at best remote so that final day drama was just the culmination of a remarkable few weeks.
Iain Macintosh, Football writer for The New Paper and others: Like everyone else, I was blown away. I watched Arsenal in ’89 and I still think it was one of the most extraordinary nights of football ever, but I really think the City win surpassed it. Firstly, there was a two goal swing in the dying stages, not one. Secondly, it was City. You expect City to screw things up on the final day, that’s what they do! Everyone else was surprised that they were losing to QPR despite having 200 shots to their one. Not me. I KNEW that was going to happen. In many ways, I’m upset that you came through. What with Newcastle failing to screw up their excellent run to fifth with a series of self-inflicted mistakes, I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Rob Dawson, Football writer covering Man City and Man United for the Manchester Evening News: Unbelievable. You’ll never see another title decided in that way ever again. The second half in particular was sporting drama at its best and it was a privilege to be inside the Etihad Stadium to watch it unfold.
Chris Cohen, Presenter and producer for Sky, ESPN and more: It was as exhilarating a last day as I’ve ever seen. Astonishing scenes and credit to City, they did what Champions have to do and keep playing til the very end. I do think, and I’m sure a lot of City fans would agree with me, that they should have wrapped up the title way before that last day, but that would hardly have been anywhere near as exciting, would it?
Mike Keegan, Sports News Correspondent for the Manchester Evening News: Fantastic. Everything that football should be. They say we get four seasons in one day with Manchester’s notorious weather. At the Etihad we got four emotions in 90 minutes. Hope, elation, turmoil and finally sheer relief. I was fortunate enough to be there and although, as an Oldham fan, it’s easy for me to say I genuinely never thought they had blown it. We’re beginning to take it for granted now, but to have the eyes of the world on Manchester is a wonderful thing and one that we should be proud of.
Jamie Jackson, Manchester football correspondent for the Guardian and Observer: Amazing – and the best way for City to win the league as it shed their image of always messing up.