16 Conclusions From The Final Day...

Extraordinary. Nick Miller has never seen anything like that, but he still just about managed 16 Conclusions on a day just as mental as the nine months that came before it...

Last Updated: 13/05/12 at 20:31 Post Comment

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* Incredible. You'll understand if the following 1,000 words or so are unreadable nonsense, because that was incredible. Whether or not you think this was the best Premier League season ever, you surely cannot suggest that there has been a more dramatic way to decide the title since 1989. We feared City would be 3-0 up in half an hour and the tension and excitement would disappear. It didn't quite work out that way...

* This is why football is phenomenal. You look me in the eye and tell me what other part of your life does that to you? The majority of the people that will read this, and watched the final day, will not be Manchester United or Manchester City supporters, but you probably all still suffered just about every emotion possible between 3pm and 5pm. What else, that really has no material impact on your life, makes you jump around in celebration, or put your head in your hands in despair, or just laugh like a complete idiot at the magnificent absurdity of it all?

In 1999 United knew what it was like to win from a seemingly impossible and desperate position, and now they know the opposite. They'll be gutted of course, but those that truly understand the game (as Sir Alex Ferguson did afterwards) will one day be able to appreciate what a remarkable day this was. And so, the extraordinary emotions of football. Glorious.

* The second half of this game was the season in microcosm. City looked like they had it in the bag, then seemed to choke, then came back to clinch it. 45 minutes, just as mental as the nine months that came before it.

* Manchester United did their bit. Patrice Evra said before the games that they needed an early goal to make City nervous, and man alive did they do that. The tension was palpable even before QPR drew level, with City initially attacking with the relative calm that has been a feature of their season, but defending with the nerves of amateurs. The remarkable thing was that, from QPR's second to Dzeko's equaliser, it didn't for a second, despite their absolute dominance (they had 81% of the ball), look like City were going to turn it around. They attacked tentatively and played a selection of the worst crosses you'll ever see, an extraordinary 66 in total.

Mark Hughes rather ungraciously said that City were lucky - he had a point in the context of this game, but City have been the best team over the season, and if it took a fortunate five minutes for their superiority to be reflected in the final table, then so be it.

* If finishing second and exiting the other competitions embarrassingly early can count as an achievement, could this be the biggest non-title winning achievement of Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure? To be runners up on goal difference, with 89 points - a total that would've been enough to win the league in four of the last five seasons - and with the lengthy injuries to key personnel throughout the season, is remarkable. It won't mean a great deal, but is perhaps encouragement for next year.

* "I congratulate City on winning the league. Anybody who wins it deserves it, because it's a long haul." For a man who in the past has not always been the most magnanimous, this was a classy touch from Sir Alex Ferguson.

* Is Joleon Lescott the most relieved man in Christendom? After a largely immaculate season, Lescott's ridiculously mis-timed jump and flick back into Djibril Cisse's path looked to have jiggered an entire season, even before Jamie Mackie made City bottoms twitch at twice the speed of a rabbit's nose. Indeed, it would've been a crying shame if he had cost them. With thanks to the excellent Adam Bate, here are some numbers: City's Premier League win ratio with Vincent Kompany was 74%, and without him 71%, while the ratio with Lescott was 81%, without was 43%.

* The purchase of Aguero last summer excited us because it was the first time in years a bona fide, already-made superstar arrived on these shores, because the Premier League tends to create such players, rather than import them. It was fitting therefore, that Aguero was the man to win the title. The quality of the goal should not be underestimated - scored in a quite insane atmosphere, Aguero brilliantly created space for himself and, while his teammates had been skewing shots in all directions for the previous half an hour, Aguero had the composure to rifle in. That's what you pay that much money for.

* Yaya Toure's importance to Manchester City was shown through his injury in the first half. If basically any other City player had pulled up clutching their hamstring, then they would've been removed with utmost haste. However, Toure was allowed to limp on for ten minutes because he's integral to both Roberto Mancini's plan A (which involves him dictating play and occasionally breaking from deep) and plan B (pushing him further up field and making those loping forward runs). So good is Toure, that he laid on City's first on one leg. And then, he was quickly removed before he became a liability.

* In most football games you'd ideally like a fight to spice things up, but City v QPR was possibly the only match that didn't need it. So thanks anyway to Joey Barton, who displayed the most despicable aspects of his character in the most irresponsible way. Replays of the offense for which he was sent off (flooring Carlos Tevez) are thus far inconclusive, but we can infer from his disgustingly childish 'But he started it' protestations that something was amiss. However, we can be certain about the cowardly kick on Sergio Aguero (according to Joseph on Twitter, in effort to 'take one of theirs with me', as if that's mitigation) that will probably rule him out of about a quarter of next season.

For a man who professes to have curbed his violent instincts, and even claimed a few months ago that he was a pacifist, this must surely be his last chance. He should be ashamed, and he will probably say as much, but we know he won't truly mean it because of his actions today. He's asked for second chances, claimed he's reformed so many times, but we know he can't be trusted. QPR acquired him because nobody else was stupid enough to take the risk, even on a free transfer. They know now why.

* A curious day for QPR. They lost but ultimately achieved their aim, while their game plan largely worked but didn't deliver the required result. Their initial line-up looked attacking, with two strikers and a couple of genuine wingers, but their set-up was incredibly cautious. More often than not QPR had ten players behind the ball, attempting to frustrate City into submission, which they bloody nearly did. It was proof that, even if the result doesn't quite work out, the tactics can be correct.

* The parallels with Barcelona v Chelsea were almost eerie at points. A team everyone assumes would be pulverised goes behind, then pulls ahead, their captain is sent off for an indefensible act of stupidity then they defend like heroes for the majority of the game. And then a late, late goal after which one of the commentators emitted a noise that can only be described as the sound of a 'gentleman's moment.' Of course, the outcome wasn't quite the same for the underdogs, but still...

* Djibril Cisse continued his bid to be the 'most value for money' footballer in the land. Eight games, goals in six of them, red cards in the other two. Well done Djibril, well done.

* A minor point. While it probably would've made no difference, because QPR had no real reason/desire to chase the game as shown by their punt to touch from kick-off, referee Mike Dean blew the final whistle at least a minute early. A minimum of five minutes of stoppage time were promised, City scored the winner in the 94th, then celebrated for at least 90 seconds. Those seconds should have been added on, but Dean blew up just before the clock ticked to 96. Cue, conspiracy theorists...

* And another one - did you see Cisse celebrating with Samir Nasri at the end? Bid odd...

* There were City fans who left early. Think about that, next time you consider 'beating the traffic.'

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The remaining games will be dealt with in Winners and Losers on Monday

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