Man City’s real triumph may be the undoing of Premiership’s featherbedding of past champions…

Well, they did it. I was in P4 when the team I (“Foolishly?” – Ed) chose to support in Primary School last won the championship of English football. Yesterday I watched them win again just round the corner from where I saw them gain promotion against Gillingham in 1999, when “typical City” similarly left their own salvation to the very last minute.

And it was a good feeling. And better for the longer wait and the tougher win. The sentiment in the pub where I watched it was pretty pro City. Even the small group of Rangers supporters where relieved that: one, they got to stay up; and two, someone had taken what’s almost become Alex Ferguson’s domestic silverware home.

But to quote Mancini, this crazy end to this crazy #EPL season was that this was likely a one off. In order to reel in Manchester Utd’s long incumbency as Premiership champions and make the league genuinely open and exciting again, City’s new owners have had to spend £1 billion in cash.

And it was a pleasing upset of an odd applecart. Writing in the The Thunderer column today, Matthew Syed noted:

This Premier League season has had it all: stunning matches, impossible results, heroic defending and sublime attacking brilliance. And then, to top it all, we have witnessed the most mind bending finale in living memory.

Henry Winter in the Telegraph does have a comparable memory, but it wasn’t yielded by the #EPL. He goes back to the old First Division of the Football League, “Arsenal’s 1989 triumph at Anfield when Michael Thomas drove through Liverpool’s defence as Brian Moore intoned ‘it’s up for grabs now’.”

But, as argued here before, what Man City’s oil rich owners did with that money was to undo the social engineering of the Premiership. Of course they needed a top rank manager to make that work. Mancini is no Professor Wenger. He was brought to City because he knows how to win, and was paid accordingly.

And he’s not going to settle for taking just one title off United (which would change absolutely nothing). His aim will be to restore the inevitable grind of winning to its customary dull repetition, only with celebrations in Manchester blue rather than red…

The first penalty Man United will pay is the £20 million penalty they will have just for coming second.

Ferguson, in a faint echo of the famous Gerry Adams line, will not go away. But neither is Mancini, whose mirroring of Fergie’s tantrum on the touchline during the derby indicates that for once, someone has finally got a handle on the Scotsman’s brand of gamesmanship.

But the club also has deep enough pockets to enable them to become the new Man U. That will take at least three to four seasons, but once achieved, the Premiership will oblige any new incumbents by similarly cutting the financial legs from under anyone who looks even half ready to take on the champions elect.

This crazy season was crazy in the sense that it was competitive right to the end of the very last minute and then beyond. As junior member of the blue tribe it would suit me personally to see Man City clock up Premierships season after season.

But what I fear is that the Premiership’s feather bedding of its champions will continue to degrade the honours. And at worst, see the top flight of English football become as open and as competitive of as Saturday afternoon wrestling on ITV back in the 70s…

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  • Mick Fealty

    I should add that City is the first team promoted – at any time point in the lifetime of the Premiership – ever to win it.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Strictly speaking the first to have done so in that order. Blackburn did it the other way around.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well true Jimmy. But that tells us a slightly different story. About what can happen when the cash runs out. Doesn’t really address the abiding problem of the Premiership’s oligopoly though, does it?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Well the only real route to addressing it was the sugar daddy option which is now being sealed off. How effectively, of course remains to be seen. United makes a substantial operating profit, whereas City has no realistic prospect of doing so in the foreseeable future.

  • andnowwhat

    In a family of 30 odd people, all of whom are United fans, this Gooner had the rare sense not to send gloating texts. Yesterday was, by a million miles, the best moment of spideball this casual fan has ever seen

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, you say sealed off. That’s not a fete accompli yet. I’d like the #epl to explain how protecting it’s own original anti competitive rules fits the term “fair play”.

    It’s been a political tick to regard such tendencies towards monopoly far beyond sport as the free working of the market, when it is nothing of the sort.

    Man U was bought by its current owners as a golden goose because the system (aided of course by the outstanding manager of his generation) tricked money out for them year after year.

    That’s why Utd has a sound operating profit: it was able to take advantage of its early good form in the #epl and then the preferential income from those earlier years to consolidate by outspending every other club in the league.

    The only way to subvert the system is to cancel out these advantages through, erm, massive investment. It’s the system that’s rotten, not the clubs.

  • DC

    It has turned out to be a bit of a Sky/Man U EPL cartel; however, your ‘gating off’ argument might have more to do with the state of play of the teams when the ‘gating off’ occurred rather than a policy designed to see Man U win the most times.

    Also Sky didn’t really invest in Man U in shares till, I think, 1998 or so.

    In relation to ‘gating off’, I’m thinking that teams that were on the rise and those on the fall have been pretty much stuck in that trend, but i don’t think it was necessarily by design, for example, if the ‘gating off’ had happened in 1982 it would have been Liverpool on the up and they would likely just be another Man U.

    That’s what happens with a winner takes all approach to the EPL, although as others have pointed out a long with me previously, Blackburn – a previous promotee and EPL winner, have gone down and Liverpool – a usual top four contender and finisher – has finished 9th or is it even lower now?

    Management does come into it and imo plays a significant part along with the cash.

  • DC

    nice twist and finish to the EPL all the same. loved it.

  • Mark

    City fans should aim to be the ” new City ” as opposed to the ” new ” MANU for starters .

    I know the point you’re making Mick but it feels like the memory of United’s 13 titles are being sullied .

    I said this before , when Ferguson retires football will never be the same for millions of fans around the world . Most of this is on another link so forget the four teams he successfully created , or the class of 92 or the fact that United because of Munich( for a generation ) are considered more than just a football team . You cannot predict sport esp football as yesterday proved so I agree with DC , No Ferguson No billion pound Premiership ……but the bread did help .

    Please don’t turn this into a Northern Ireland Water thing at least for a couple of days …….( would add smiley if knew how too ) I don’t wanna end up like Joey Barton …

  • weidm7

    Jesus, what did Man United do to you? Is it wrong to be a successful club? One super-rich club won the league from another super-rich club, shock horror. Some team buys themselves a title and you’re glad for the return of diversity? Meanwhile, Linfield win their sixth title in 7 years and Mick cares not a toss.

  • Mick Fealty


    No fear of that.


    Nor am I worried about the dominance of the old firm in Scotland (though it is interesting to see an all Edinburgh Cup final for the first time in 116 years, coincide with the troubles at Rangers).

    I’ve already laboured this elsewhere so I’ll try not to turn into a soccer bore. The ‘social engineering’ lies the vastly uneven distribution of prize money not the natural weakness of other clubs that makes the premiership less competitive than other leagues.


  • keano10

    As a neutral, the finish to Sunday’s match was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in all my years watching football. Some of my mates are lifelong City fans and they are still walking on air, two days later.

    I dont concur that money entirely bought this title though. Mancin moulded a group of expensive individuals into a proper team who played and fought together for every ball when it mattered most. They thoroughly deserved it. He took no nonsense from the likes of Tevez and Balotelli and in Vincent Kompany he has created a talismanic leader. A true captain (and a gent to boot).

    There is a new Sheriff in town and Fergie and Man U are just going to have to live with that..

    This is the end of The Fergie Era. City have assumed the mantle of champions and they will win many more titles in the years ahead.