Hats off to both Roberto Mancini and Alex Ferguson for seizing the top two slots in this year’s Premiership title race. In the end Mancini’s unstoppable force beat Ferguson’s immoveable object – but, my word, what a season!
Mancini deserves praise for maintaining a cool enough head to make the crucial calls that eventually led to his team scoring the two injury time goals they needed to win the title. The Italian must also be lauded for finding ways to reincorporate two troublesome – but undoubtedly talented – players into his side: Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli… the latter of whom had been told earlier in the season that he would never play for City again.
(Then, of course, Tevez had to ruin it yesterday by holding aloft a cardboard sign scrawled with “RIP Fergie” during City’s big-bus victory parade – a monumentally mean-spirited act that we can only hope Mancini addresses with the same kind of skill he applies to matches.)
Ferguson, in his game, got the result he needed – but control of the Premiership was out of his hands. The 2011 to 2012 United team was – by their admittedly high standards – sub-par. City were the more talented team, and given the way Fergie set up his team to defend, defend, defend in the Manchester derby two weeks ago, he clearly understands that point. But as Kevin Keegan and a host of other managers will attest: below standard or not, Ferguson’s teams are relentless. And that speaks to his management style.
Overturning an eight-goal deficit – six of which came in City’s two victories over the Reds – was never a realistic possibility. All they could do was win their game. Professional as always, United went out and did just that. They were about to steal the title until five minutes after the season’s regulation time had ended. Like I said – relentless.
In many ways, despite the new champion, the season proved what we already knew: United are still the Premiership team to beat. We just didn’t know you had to beat them twice.
Management ups and downs
Williams F1 team
For having their first win for 132 races (the last one was back in 2004!) on no less an occasion than the day after Frank Williams’s 70th birthday.
For getting himself shunted to the back of the grid for failing to return to the pits – after blowing the competition out of the water in qualifying. Rules, dear boy… rules.