Pep Guardiola wore a Manchester City t-shirt and turned to receive praise from the ecstatic Etihad Stadium, waving fists into the sky before marching past the Honor Guard.
He shone brightly as he celebrated his fourth win in five seasons, but little has been said about the efforts of Manchester City’s managers, players and fans to achieve the goal.
In less than an hour, Guardiola wept at the end of the whistle after one of the most surprising comebacks any club had ever achieved to win the Premier League.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich managers were crying tears of joy. Most of this nerve-wracking and epic afternoon seemed like tears of despair.
Manchester City have been given a simple challenge to retain their crown. They had to beat Aston Villa with one more home win in an outstanding league season.
There was one serious problem when writing this potential storyline.
Manchester City don’t play their regular games. An honest person is a stranger to them. If you give them a mile, quite often it will take an inch. History should have said that this would not be as simple as the proposed logic.
So it was proven that the lethargic and underinspired City won 2-0 over Villa with 15 minutes left.
At Anfield 35 miles away, Liverpool didn’t lose anything as they drew 1-1 with Wolverhampton. But smart money the Reds scored again in front of the Kop and won, and they did it eventually.
Guardiola’s enthusiastic touchline body language underscores the scale of the task at hand. City had to score 3 goals in the last 15 minutes. Otherwise, you can end the season without a trophy. It was an undeniable failure for a team and manager with such talent.
The twist in the story was obvious.
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has helped Liverpool win the single major prize at Anfield that he could not have won. It’s his title story of woes, summed up in the infamous slip with Chelsea that allowed Manchester City to claim the final title in April 2014. Ugh.
Adding to the drama was the fact that another Liverpool boy, Philippe Coutinho, scored a goal that looked like it would put an end to City’s title ambitions.
And it happened. A thrilling comeback and title win that cannot be seen even by Manchester City standards.
the club recently Sergio Aguero statue unveiledThe striker scored the famous last-day goal in 93:20 against the Queens Park Rangers, who won their first title in 44 years on a goal difference over Manchester United 10 years ago.
Many might argue that Sunday’s victory was a bigger challenge than that day in May 2012. Because they dealt with a dominant, very well-organized and risky villa who seemed to have complete control.
Etihad Stadium was astonished. This day should have been more than just a proper reward for losing the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, it was supposed to be a day of celebration.
Not a little.
There was an eerie silence after Coutinho scored. City feared the worst, but somehow evoked character and qualities to win the title under dramatic circumstances by their own standards.
They scored 14 points against Liverpool on 15 January, but the pain of losing the crown would have been greater with each passing Jurgen Klopp.
City have accumulated knowledge of how they beat Manchester United on the last day of the 2011-12 season, beating Manchester United in their last home game over Liverpool in the 2013-14 season and beating Brighton by one point. 2018-19.
They are being trained under the unique pressures of the last days of the Premier League.
Indeed, it seemed like a muscle memory that brought them three crucial goals and pulled them off their feet for a five-minute spell that will forever be remembered by all Manchester City fans who have experienced it.
Guardiola has made many substitutions in his illustrious career, but few will have as good a memory as introducing Ilkay Gundogan in the second half.
First, Germany broke the gloom with a goal header in the 76th minute. Rodri raised the bar with an equalizer two minutes later, and Gundogan’s winner slipped from a Kevin de Bruyne cross to the far post with nine minutes left and it felt almost inevitable to slide home.
Guardiola must have known deeply that only victory can be achieved here. He begged Manchester City fans to take to the streets and welcome the team, and they did. He delivered home a message ending in “don’t forget, LOUD. LOUD. LOUD” via program notes.
And it’s loud and loud, especially when referee Michael Oliver blows his final whistle to set off an explosion of emotion and relief from the City’s manager.
Not all emotions surrounding Etihad can be applauded. Sadly, in an increasingly dangerous trend, Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen was ambushed after the end of the match whistle, and City was swiftly attacked. Apologize and start investigation.
City bid farewell to 37-year-old Fernandinho after nine successful years at the club as Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ strain roared the ground. sprinkled with champagne.
Ukrainian defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, who was also an excellent substitute and had to fight Russians invading his homeland, was also moved by the victory and comforted by his teammates.
Manchester City have produced incredible Premier League finals, often pushing their beliefs to the limit, and this may just have been a lot of first place titles.
Guardiola’s team deserves to be champions once again. But this simple phrase doesn’t even touch the side when historian recalls the amazing five-minute story of an amazing day at Etihad Stadium.