May 13, 2012, is arguably the most iconic day of the Premier League era.
Manchester United thought they’d secured a 20th league title with a 1-0 win away at Sunderland after hearing that neighbours and title rivals Manchester City were trailing 2-1 at home to Queens Park Rangers in stoppage time.
A draw wouldn’t be enough for City to lift the Premier League trophy. As United had beaten Sunderland, only a victory would see Roberto Mancini’s side crowned champions of England for the first time since 1968.
Edin Dzeko scored in the second minute of stoppage-time to make it 2-2 at the Etihad Stadium and we all remember what happened next.
Sergio ‘Aguerooooo!’ Aguero netted the most famous goal in Premier League history, taking a touch before smashing the ball past QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
News that City had produced a stoppage-time miracle to clinch the title on goal difference slowly filtered through to the Stadium of Light, where United’s travelling supporters were taken from heaven to hell in an instant.
Down on the pitch, Sir Alex Ferguson and his players couldn’t believe what they were hearing. They thought the title was theirs.
And Sunderland fans celebrated wildly as United’s crestfallen players, staff and supporters digested the news.
The home crowd further rubbed salt into Man Utd’s wounds by doing The Poznan – a celebration that City’s fans adopted after playing Lech Poznan in the Europa League in 2010.
What did Ferguson say after Man City won title in 2012?
Ferguson, to his credit, graciously congratulated City for winning the title in his post-match interview on Sky Sports.
“I’d like to say on behalf of Manchester United, congratulations to our neighbours,” the Scot said.
“It’s a fantastic achievement to win the Premier League. It’s not an easy league, it’s the hardest league in the world, and anyone who wins it deserves it.”
What did Sir Alex Ferguson say about Sunderland fans?
But the antics of Sunderland’s fans irked the man widely regarded as the greatest manager in football history.
Just one day after losing the title on goal difference, United’s players turned up to the club’s end-of-season awards and, as you can probably imagine, the atmosphere was subdued.
And the sight of Sunderland’s supporters revelling in Man Utd’s misery was brought up by Ferguson during his on-stage speech.
“I’m an absolute dinosaur but what I am… I’m a winner,” Fergie said. “I said this to the players yesterday. When we lost the league to Leeds United in 1992. The young players came out that today and Liverpool supporters were asking for their autographs: [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes, [Gary] Neville and [David] Beckham… and they were teeing the autographs up.
“I said to Giggs and the boys, you remember this day.
“And that’s exactly what I said to the players yesterday. Those Sunderland fans that were cheering for City, remember the day. We won’t forget that, I’m telling you.”
Watch Ferguson’s speech here:
What happened the following season?
Man Utd bounced back in style the following season, winning their 20th league title after finishing 11 points clear of second-placed City at the top of the Premier League table.
Ferguson then stunned the world by announcing his retirement and adjusting to life without their former boss has been far from straightforward for the Red Devils over the past nine years.
As for Sunderland, they narrowly avoided relegation at the end of the 2012-13 season before going down to the Championship in 2017.
And after one year in the Championship, the Black Cats were relegated again to League One.
Following five seasons in English football’s third tier and after two Netflix documentaries, Sunderland are hoping to return to the Championship by beating Wycombe in the League One play-off final on May 21.
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