You all know the drill by now. The final day is one where as-it-stands tables appear in the corner of your screen after every five minutes, Match of the Day switches between games and Paul Merson ends up going mental. It’s always highly dramatic of course, but yesterday was something else.
It’s becoming a dominant ideology that this season has been the Premier League’s finest. We really have seen it all, the title pendulum swinging weekly, a gripping relegation battle and more goals than any other previous season. The final day is usually the climax of the season’s narrative, where the tension builds up beyond belief, a great final day can turn an average Premier League season into a great one.
Sunday’s goings on did the whole season justice, although I didn’t have the misfortune of having to watch Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas describe it to me, it was painfully tense none the less.
Even from the relative calmness and tranquility of the DW, the intensity of the title chase and relegation battle was apparent. Well almost, the incessant din of twenty odd young children sat behind me very nearly deterred the anxiety. I don’t want to sound like a miserable old man, but there’s nothing worse than trying to watch a game and having a load of annoying kids sat directly behind you, it was like being in a creche.
So you could say my experience of the West Stand wasn’t a great one, having booked my tickets too late to get a seat in the East Stand, I had to settle for an alternative, tucked up in a corner of the Springfield Stand. Not that there’s anything wrong with the West Stand, I just personally prefer the East, there’s more of a sense of atmosphere in there.
One problem I did encounter with the West Stand faithful though is that they’re rather inaccurate with their delivery of scores from other grounds, well the ones around me were anyway.
In the second half, I was told that City were 2-0 up, QPR were 3-1 up and that United had won the league. By the time the correct scores were given to me, I wasn’t quite sure whether to believe them or not. Maybe this is why I should invest in a smartphone with an internet connection that actually works.
If anything though, the ambiguity of the scores probably added to the drama of it all for me. Anyone that’s regularly read my articles might have realised that I’m not Man United’s biggest fan, so I was rooting for City on Sunday, without a doubt.
So when I was told QPR were winning 2-1 (and then 3-1) I was pretty gutted to be honest with you. It would have been so typical of both Man United and City if the noisy neighbours had came so close, but been pipped at the finish by the masters of title winning. The smug look on every United fan would have been unbearable.
Trying to juggle all this information whilst watching a game and hoping the kids behind me wouldn’t spit in my hair or wet themselves was quite a difficult task actually.
The Latics game I was trying to watch was as expected, both teams knew their fate before kick off and neither had much to play for. The atmosphere at the DW was very calm and almost like a party atmosphere, quite the opposite to previous final day encounters!
I suppose it was ‘typical Wigan’ when during the minute’s applause for eight minutes in the Premier League, Wolves went and scored to silence the applause.
It was a good idea and a nice touch to show the fans’ appreciation for all the hard work over the years, but was it just me that noticed that it was actually punctually incorrect? The clapping started at 8:00, therefore the minute’s applause was actually of the ninth minute of the game, not the eighth. I know I’m sounding like the bastion of the pedant parade but if you’re going to make a gesture, at least make it a correct one!
Wigan weren’t behind for long though as Di Santo scored a deflected effort, his fourth deflected goal of the season (surely that’s a record?), before Emmerson Boyce headed home a Jean Beausejour corner on fourteen minutes. Boycey showed his goalscoring touch once again by planting a fine volley into Karl Ikeme’s goal, I was delighted because at 3-1, my 10/1 bet was most definitely on.
Needless to say then, that Adrian Lopez isn’t my favourite person at the moment after he practically presented Wolves with a second goal, which Steven Fletcher took and the score ended at 3-2.
It was at this point that a pitch invasion took place, and pretty much every fan in the stadium aged under 14 piled onto the pitch. I still don’t know why, I guess it’s just final day ritual, but it’s not as if we’d just won the league or dramatically clinched survival with a final day win like last season. I thought the pitch invasion seemed rather pointless, or is that just me being a grumpy old man again?
I then walked out of the ground and towards the car park (there was another down side to the large attendance, the free car park was full so I had to fork out £5 to park on the ‘posher’ one, bloody rubbish Whelan) and I heard that City had clinched the title.
I was delighted that United had lost their crown, and to their bitterest rivals made it even sweeter.
Over the course of the season, the team that deserves to win the league invariably does. City have been excellent and have deserved their crown, especially when you consider that they looked down and out when they lost at the Emirates to go eight points behind. The fightback has been incredible.
What I hope for now is that United fans will be gracious in defeat, admitting that the better team won and that City have deserved to win it. None of this ‘Come back when you’ve won 19’ and ‘you only bought it’ pretentious rubbish.
Now I’m sorry, but I refuse to accept any United fan’s excuse that City bought the league. United in the past have bought players and won titles through doing it, it makes them hypocrites for criticising City for doing the same. Look at United’s team this season, De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fabio, Rafael, Carrick, Valencia, Park, Young, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov, Hernandez… they’ve all been bought, most for large fees as well. Over the years, title winners such as Cantona, Ince, Irwin, Cole, Yorke, Van Nistelrooy, they’ve all been bought.
I don’t understand how United expect City to have all this money and not to spend it, if the only way to win titles morally is to have a team comprised entirely of academy players. By that theory, Crewe Alexandra should win the Premier League every season.
After that little rant (sorry) I want to end my season’s scriptures by praising Martinez and Wigan for what they’ve achieved this season. I for one, haven’t always been expectant and we’ve all been cynical at times in response to poor results and performances. But the way the whole club has responded to earn survival (comfortably in the end) from such a bleak situation is testament to the club’s attitude to adversity.
We’re Wigan Latics, and we’ve done it again.
See you in August.
Goal of the Week: For pure drama, Sergio Aguero’s late strike will be remembered for a long time, it really was one of those insane moments in sport that only come around once in a blue moon.
Jason Roberts of the Week: After weeks of playing down his side’s chances, I think Roberto Mancini can sit down, take a sip of champagne and say ‘I knew we were favourites all along’.
Jason Scotland of the Week: Joey Barton’s petulance suggests that maybe, leopards never change their spots. Regardless, the heartbreak of relegation for Bolton earns Owen Coyle this award, especially after the controversy of Stoke’s first goal. Some Latics fans will be delighted at this, personally, with Blackburn gone I wanted some rivalry left in the league, all I can say is fingers crossed for Blackpool’s play off bid!
Quote of the Week: “AGUEEEERRRROOO!!!” The cry from every commentator in the land will be the iconic quote from this memorable season.