The 13th of May 2012 will go down as one of the most exciting days in Premiership history, if not footballing history. It had so many sub-plots I could barely keep up…
Man City with no top flight title since 1968 lead their greatest rivals Man U with a massive goal difference in their favour, all they have to do is not slip up against relegation fodder QPR, that is QPR managed by ex-Man U legend Steve Bruce, unceremoniously dumped from a management job at Man City after the money came in and he failed to deliver. Several of his key purchases from City starting against him.
But on the other end of the table there is the fight for survival between QPR and Bolton. QPR struggling to retain their premiership status after promotion last year and Bolton suffering from insane injury troubles this season including the shocking collapse of Muamba on the pitch against Tottenham earlier this year.
That is to say nothing of the fights for European places between Tottenham, Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea.
But that’s all by the by. Let’s focus on the Man City vs QPR game:
First off what was great about today at Man City:
Games like this always have the potential for poetry, matters of relegation and the championship are decided on the final day of the season in battles between those fighting to avoid the drop and those fighting for long-eluded glory. That is great. Today lived up to the hype, it was a great game of football, both sides fought to the end, both gave their all, as did the fans, there was real passion and that’s exciting.
There are not many sporting events in the world that can, organically, produce such amazing tension and so many BIG personalities (ahem, Tevez) and throw them all together with such skill to produce something awesome that also means so much to so many people (whatever else you can’t take anything away from the fans of Man City, they wanted it!)
And it’s a big but. This match up should never have been the title decider, whatever we say about the passion of Man City, the players and the management no one can argue with the fact that the title really belongs to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He paid for it.
That makes me sad, teams get good, they make money out of being good, but that money and that success comes from developing young talent, from great management, coaching and everything else that goes with it. They are built over time. Look at Manchester Utd and Arsenal, even Tottenham (2,3 and 4 respectively this season) all have been built, long term. Yes Man U’s team is “worth” more than Man City’s (169m to 162m, I think) but it doesn’t matter, they didn’t have a single investor come in and buy all that in the last 3 years like City did.
The problem here is it’s unsustainable, teams owned by oligarchs and monarchs don’t put down roots, they pick off the best talent, pay obsene money and further the insane levels of unsustainable economics that exist in modern football, they drive smaller clubs salaries up, they drive the expectations of young players up, they create a vacuum that uses large amounts of money to substitute everything else, it sucks… (excuse the pun)
And then there is Mr Barton.
A troubled young man to say the least, probably to be subject to one of the longest violent conduct bans ever seen, but he will probably play again, somewhere. This is the kind of person being created by the modern game, we’re taking people with well co-ordinated feet, who love a sport, we’e throwing literally £100,ooo’s a week at them, then putting them up on a huge pedestal and scrutinising their every move as they are mollycoddled by a team of people who take care of everything for them. We then wonder why some of them are nuts.
Today was a great day
Full of drama, passion and goals, but I wonder how, in the long term, football will continue to produce such spectacles.