If there was ever any question over why the Premier League is the most watched domestic division in world football, then surely Sunday, 14th May provided the ultimate answer.
For all the style of Spain’s La Liga, tactical nous of Italy’s Serie ‘A’ or youthful exuberance of Germany’s Bundesliga, it’s the English Premier League which always seems to deliver on the dramatic front.
Whether the top teams have got worse or bottom teams have got better is up for debate, but the ability of every club to take points off others is the key to success in the top flight on these shores, and something no other division can offer.
When either Manchester City or Manchester United looked to have pulled away, they were always pegged back by the likes of Wigan, Swansea City, Everton and Sunderland.
Then throw into the mix Champions League finalists Chelsea, former title-winners Arsenal, a quite brilliant Newcastle United and a free-flowing Tottenham Hotspur. Put it all together and you’ve got a quite amazing campaign.
Every week, it seemed like there was a game to remember for years to come. Think Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal; Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City; Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City; Chelsea 3-3 Manchester United; Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal; Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur. Did I miss any?
Of course I did, because the list has been simply never-ending in a campaign that has already been voted the greatest season in Premier League history.
Congratulations must of course go to City, a point even Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to admit begrudgingly after his side were denied at the Stadium of Light.
Money makes the world go round, particularly in modern day football, and it was no surprise that summer 2010 signing Mario Balotelli found summer 2011 signing Sergio Aguero to score the 94th minute winner at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
Every penny was worth it, and there is nothing to stop City from spending again in the next transfer window as Roberto Mancini looks to create a period of dominance in English football.
The big question is, can anyone stop them? Financial Fair Play might be the biggest threat in a few years time, whilst Ferguson will look to come back stronger than ever next term. The Scot has made a living out of coming back better than ever after a season of disappointment.
What will hurt Ferguson most this season is the way his side threw it away after getting themselves back into pole position and eight points clear at the top of the table. With all their experience, the Red Devils failed to take advantage when the ball was firmly in their court.
For Arsenal, a season that looked certain to be disastrous ended in a third-place finish. Fans will still be scratching their heads wondering how they did it, but the answer doesn’t lie much further than Robin Van Persie. Changes could well be round the corner.
Spurs have fourth, but Chelsea might take the Champions League away with victory over Bayern Munich in the final next weekend. It would be cruel for Harry Redknapp’s side, but a coup for the English game if Roberto Di Matteo can deliver Europe’s ultimate prize.
Newcastle are back as one of English football’s powerhouses after Alan Pardew’s French bargains flourished at St. James’ Park, whilst Swansea City, Norwich City and Stoke City will be back for another crack at the top flight after success in their first season – the Swans and Canaries particularly impressing.
Everton are the new power in Merseyside after finishing four points ahead of Liverpool. Okay, so it’s not that simple, but Reds fans will expect a massive improvement next season after claiming the League Cup trophy. It’s little consolation when the Blues are above Kenny Dalglish’s men in the table.
Then there is the likes of Fulham, Wigan, West Brom and Stoke – Premier League veterans who get the job done, survive and look to build. Solid but unspectacular, all four are capable of affecting the title race or relegation battle.
A special mention must go to the Latics, who avoided the drop in serious style under Roberto Martinez, beating some big teams on the way both home and away.
Whether the Spaniard leaves for Aston Villa remains up for debate, although Alex McLeish has paid the price for a disastrous campaign as the Scot got the chop earlier today.
Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton all waved goodbye to the top flight, and will be trying their best to get back at the first time of asking in an ultra-competitive Championship. History has shown that it’s far from easy, however.
So where to go from here? Next season, of course, although the drama of Euro 2012 followed by a transfer window could well shuffle the pack before Chelsea and City clash in August’s Community Shield.
All that’s left to say, is same again please sirs. We just can’t wait!
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