For those who want to understand the true meaning of the events at the Etihad Stadium last Sunday, read no further than the sub-title of this blog.
Sunday’s game was the perfect microcosm of what it is to support Manchester City, the new Champions of England.
The game is now days away, but for me and I should imagine most other City fans, the unbelievable high remains.
I’ve been writing this blog since 2009, I’ve been a City fan since the day I was born in 1981, but nothing, nothing can truly describe what happened on the turf of the Etihad last Sunday.
As the game drew to a close, and as the realization dawned that defeat was, unbelievably, after all that we had done, cruelly upon us, I found myself experiencing something particularly unpleasant.
For this was a new strain of Cityitis, the debilitating disease we had all hoped had been eradicated. Now, suddenly, unexplainably, from out of nowhere, it was back, and not only that – now it was stronger than ever before and with a new, particularly cruel and virulent twist. In the past, we had always been haunted from a position of weakness. Now we were being haunted on the edge of the glory. I could see the headlines being written as the game closed in, and all hope ebbed away.
But not this time.
Just when the chains of typical City threatened to pull us back into a dungeon of despair, this City team stood up and proved they had what it took to win the title.
By now, we all know the story. 2-1 down, the clocked ticked into injury time, with United still winning at Sunderland.
Everything we tried during that second half just didn’t come off. We tried intricate passes through the middle, crosses from both flanks, shots from distance.
To their credit QPR defended brilliantly. In many ways the game reminded me of a Barcelona-Chelsea Champions League semi-final in 2009 at the Nou Camp, where Chelsea invited the Catalans onto them and just flooded the penalty area with bodies, limiting Barca to very few clear cut chances.
That was the case here. We had a massive amount of possession, crosses, shots – but hardly any of it was incisive.
And so, by the 92nd minute, we were staring down the barrel of a gun. Enter Edin Dzeko. A corner from David Silva, so often our man of the moment this season, found the head of the Bosnian who powered it down the centre of the goal past QPR keeper Paddy Kenny.
The darkness had descended, but now, somehow, from somewhere, a glimmer of hope had reappeared. Time was still against us, but I found myself thinking: Could it be?
Mancini, normally so collected on the touchline, was raging at his troops, urging them back to the restart. The pressure was white hot. It was unreal.
It was the last attack of the season. From the restart, we wrested back control of the ball from a QPR side that until now had been so stubborn, so resolute in their defence.
But they were cracking at the base. As often happens in games where one team goes for the jugular, and another team just defends, defends and defends, one goal was all it took. The Dzeko strike was crucial. Suddenly, as the Blues swept forward, with the last chance upon our shoulders, the gaps, the angles that we had sought so incessantly throughout the match, finally started to appear.
And commeth the minute, commeth the man. A string of City passes through the heart of the QPR defence found Sergio Aguero in the area. The Argentinean skipped the first tackle, composed himself, and fired the ball past Paddy Kenny into the back of the net.
We had won the Premier League. From the pits of despair we had come back. We were Champions, in the most unbelievable fashion imaginable. As one fan put it – this was Roy of the Rovers on speed.
We had stared down the barrel of the gun, but this time, as our world closed in on us, a millisecond before the trigger was about to be pulled, we ducked, swiveled the gun around and pulled the trigger ourselves.
This was escapology of the highest order.
From desperation, from frustration, from despair, to the heights of elation, the heights of ecstasy, to the heights of our history, in minutes. No Blue will ever forget Sunday 13th May 2012.
Some teams torture their supporters but no-one is as sadistic as City. Thirteen years ago we were staring into the abyss in the old Division 3. Today we are champions. No. No team does it like quite like City, because City are City. And no team ever will. There is no story quite like that in modern football.
We deserved this title. Having defeated our closest rivals home and away, having played some of the best football the league has witnessed, this is our time. And this is City’s year.
It is too early to turn to next season. For now, Blues will enjoy the magnitude of what happened last Sunday. And no-one can begrudge them that.
They have suffered long enough. But now, the Blue Moon that has been rising since 2008 has well and truly risen. I can only applaud the club for how it has gone about achieving this most special of trophy wins.
As one fantastic chapter closes, another exciting chapter opens as this club – Manchester City, the champions of England – continues to go from strength to strength to strength.