It’s been a strange, strange year: a season of near death experiences, derby title challenges, twitter wars, weekly goals of the season, and well-loved bad boys.
Of all its highlights, the 2011/2012 campaign should be noted as the season of missed opportunities; ten months of banana slips and indecision.
It’s been a season of fantastic, high octane matches packed with goals, tension and drama.
There have been a number of upsets bringing into question the very notion of the ‘upset’. Wigan beat Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. Norwich triumphed at White Hart Lane and earned a well-deserved point at the Emirates, while relegated Blackburn outgunned Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Conversely, there have been whitewashed performances in which losing sides have been reduced to footballing rubble – Arsenal conceded eight at the hands of United, Spurs blew a two goal lead at the Grove, and City thumped their noisy neighbours with six goals behind enemy lines.
The theatre of this year’s football has been astounding and cinematic in appeal. Astonishingly, so much common sense, logic, and wisdom has gone by the wayside in the process, with many teams missing out on opportunities to capitalise on the failings of their rivals to climb up the league and consolidate their positions.
On several occasions relegation battlers all dropped points on the same days, maintaining the status quo – much to the entertainment of neutrals.
This was perhaps most evident in the race for the championship. With just six games to go, United enjoyed an eight-point advantage over City, and were firm favourites for the Premier League title.
But then there was Wigan. Facing another relegation battle and pinned against the wall with a fixture list that would terrify the very best teams at the top of the table, the Latics had it all to do.
Having rallied to take first place, looking down on City, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were expected to dispatch of Roberto Martinez’s troops with ease. Wigan had other ideas.
Victor Moses, Shaun Maloney & co outwitted, outplayed and outperformed the Rooneys and Nanis, taking the game to the champions as though the DW was the Nou Camp. On the night, Wigan performed like title winners, not United. Dropping three big points, United opened the gates for City to re-enter the title race.
Excitingly, this was the case from the very top to the bottom of the table. Tottenham enjoyed a ten-point lead over Arsenal in third, only to finish below their North London rivals for another season.
Blackburn enjoyed a successful run of games, performing admirably against the bigger sides, only to be let down in games against Wigan, Bolton and West Brom, consigning Rovers to the Championship.
All in all, the propensity for virtually every single club to implode at exactly the wrong time provided a wonderful opportunity for neutrals to enjoy a great season.
Crucially, what set the big winners of the season apart from everyone else was their ability to capitalise at the right moment, shaking off the thematic carelessness of the campaign to earn significant victories at seminal moments.
While Manchester United capitulated to offer City the route back into winning the title, Roberto Mancini’s men rallied to take their fate into their own hands when all appeared to be going wrong. Sergio Aguero rose to the occasion to rescue City’s year, scoring when his team needed it the most.
And that is why City beat their neighbours and great rivals to first: rather than squander, they conquered, leaving their fans over the moon – the Blue Moon.
We look forward to next year.