Phil Jones realises the coded implication in swapping his shirt with John O’Shea

by Joe Snee

There I was, on my knees, Martin Tyler shouting down the screen at me, Sergio Aguero swinging his jersey in the air, Phil Jones pulling funny faces next to Sir Alex Ferguson in disbelief. Before I know it, there’s a pitch invasion at the Etihad, City are champions, but the events of the day had finally caught up with me. My heart? Broken.

Going into yesterday’s penultimate game at the Etihad, nobody expected QPR to pull off any miracle. As the game came close to kick off, your heart begins to flutter slightly, your hope begins to build just a tad bit more, you look for any sign of hope. City started brightly, always looking dangerous. As Zabaleta took his shot, it would seem Paddy Kenny’s ability to catch a football had deserted him, 1-0…..oh well.

Once half time arrived, we could begin our 45 minute journey to accepting City were about to win the league and if City had came out and scored again early on, we could fast forward our acceptance and begin to concentrate on other things in life. No, not on Djibril Cisse’s watch, as Jolean Lescott misplaced a header, the Frenchman raced on and gave us all hope. We began to believe again. Could we? Nah, never, but wait we’re 1-0 up at Sunderland and we are actually top of the league. Joey Barton’s attempts at beating the whole Man City team up didn’t help things and if it wasn’t for Micah Richards we could have been treated to the collision of our generations between Barton and Balotelli. That would have been some spectacle.

As far as Barton is concerned, admitting to wanting to take one of the oppositions players out of the game is ridiculous and a ban of 9 games is not enough. He will have to do an awful lot of guest appearances on Newsnight to make up for this one. The man shouldn’t be in football, simple as.

City came close again a couple of times before the absolute unthinkable happened.

Armand Traore, a man who was involved in the 8-2 drubbing that Arsenal received at Old Trafford earlier in the season, broke down the left hand side, and pin pointed a cross onto a magnificent Jamie Mackie’s head. It’s 2 bloody 1. A special mention must go out to Jamie Mackie here, a man who has gone through all divisions and a proper footballer who wears his heart on his sleeve. He could very well play for a club higher up the table.

So here I sit on the edge of my seat, it’s 2-1, with 5 minutes of stoppage time in front of me. I begin to believe.

Balotelli was causing all sorts of trouble, and this time it was for the team he was actually playing against. A corner and the big forgotten man from Bosnia decided to come out to play: Dzeko equalises. But we’re still top, the game has just ended at the Stadium of Light and we are merely seconds away from snatching the title from our bitter rivals

Deep into stoppage time, Sergio Aguero picks the ball up, clipped, could have gone down, but no he continues on. As he bares down on goal, I drop to my knees. Martin Tyler winds his voice up, Aguero winds his right foot up, and BANG…….UNBELIEVABLE. Aguero scores and all hell breaks loose at the Etihad. At the Stadium of Light? United fans and players are distraught, it’s over, City have finally won the league again. There’s nothing I can do so I just stay in the same position, wanting it all to just go away.

The fear is though, it’s only just beginning. I bring you back to a piece I wrote 24 hours before the Community Shield and an extract from that piece about the verdict on how City would do this year. I hate being right on this one.

This really could be City’s year; they have the talent, the potential, all the infrastructure is there for them. Champions League football will dictate how close they come for the league this year in my opinion, the further they go in Europe – the less likely they are to mount a real challenge. For me anyway, they are United’s main challengers, and the title is going to Manchester in 2012, but which part?

I truly believe that City are a worldwide force, a team that can only get better. We will never see the likes of what happened yesterday again. As a staunch United fan, I wouldn’t wish that on any other fan from any other club; it was unbearable. They say football is just a game, and they’re right, but it’s a game that grips you, chews you up and spits you out.

I’m not bitter however. As far as I am concerned, if you get to a point, where on the very last day of the season, in the very last minute, you have the ball at your feet, one kick away from winning the league, and you have the bottle to smash that ball into the back of the net then you deserve to win that league. Money is what brought certain players to Manchester City, but you cannot deny the joy on their faces.

This was about more than money to them, it was massive.

All I can really say now is, congratulations to Manchester City, it’s been a hell of a ride.