What a difference two years makes, huh? From the naming of Manuel Pellegrini as coach with a release stating something called a "holistic approach," (whatever that means, amirite?!) there has just been something about this team, something different. From 4 goals in the opening game to being "undressed," by Bayern Munich; from having the title in our grasp to "shit, we just drew to Sunderland?" It may have not been all about flair and goals from City this year, but consistency was key. We were never too high and never too low, just balanced. We suffered some losses we didn’t see coming, but the boys learned from them and moved on.
As I implied above, there was something so loveable about this group, and not just from a fan’s perspective; the team looked to enjoy one another’s company. Unlike the squad two years ago, there were no villains, no personalities that made City fans laugh and EPL followers angry (i.e. Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez). Not to say I didn’t love every member of the 2011/2012 squad, it is just harder to find those players who could drive you mad by their lack consistent effort throughout the season. When you look at this squad, you’d be hard pressed to find someone like that; although the Kolarov wolf video is probably the closest we get. The fiercest competitors on the pitch were the nicest and most soft-spoken off of it. Again, there was just something different about this team.
Sunday was much less different, as a win or a draw would be just fine for City, and everything looked as if it were going to go off without a hitch (doesn’t that sound familiar?). But, it really was going to be just fine. As nervous as I was on the inside, it was more excitement than nerves, and as I watched the game and saw the look in the eyes of each player during close-ups I became less and less concerned. We had this game. We controlled the game, enjoyed (pretty much) all of the possession and didn’t force any shots. As frustrating as it was to see Silva, Aguero and others wait for the "perfect shot", there was no need to force something for the sake of getting a shot in the stats book. And then the fun began. With a little over five minutes left in the first half Nasri got "the goal". The Etihad erupted, Nasri celebrated by screaming something in French I wish I could understand and Liverpool were down a goal (granted that was obviously going to change, and did). But, with all the jubilation going on, the NBC cameras cut to a shot of Kaptain Kompany, who put his pointer fingers to his temples in a gesture I can only imagine meant "focus, just focus." Again, this was just different.
If you thought West Ham had a chance to pull a QPR, those thoughts were erased when Vinny put City up 2-0. If Vinny, the heart and soul (along with Pablo) of what we want all our players to be like, scoring was not a sign of an inevitable win for City then I don’t know what is. You could tell what it meant to not only Komapny, but the team as well. As the captain celebrated his goal, the entire team tackled him to the ground and dog-piled on top; starting with Yaya. From the second goal on the singing began and didn’t stop. Then, the final whistle blew and the real celebration began. I said before the game that if we won, the fans wouldn’t rush the pitch but that was more of a tough guy act, as if I were there I would have been one of the first out there. It didn’t matter who you were with the club, everyone got hugged, kissed and who knows what else. Matija Nastasic, who has not played in months, was struggling to find his way to the tunnel. It was madness in the best sense of the word.
The winning of the prestigious EPL title is such an honor that it turns men back into children. It may have to do with the fact I didn’t watch the locker room video two years ago, but Kolarov and Kompany let out girlish shrieks as they entered the room. "Championes, Championes, Ole Ole Ole" rang out so loud that during Joe Hart’s interview you could hear it in the background. As the players returned to the pitch for the trophy celebration, the "difference" about this team was on display. Pellegrini was carried by the team, which made him look like a character from the Muppets, and then tossed into the air as the crowd cheered. The only similarity from the 2012 post-game celebration was Vinny raising the trophy.
Whatever Pellegrini did to this team, brain washing, drugs or compassion, I hope he does it again next year. Nasri, Kolarov, Garcia and Dzeko, the butt of everyone’s joke last year, were some of our most consistent (minus Dzeko; sorry I had to) and top performers for the club this season. The signings fit the style of play Pellegrini was hoping to flaunt. And the style of play, whoa, it was something else. There was a fluidity about our attack all year. Sure with injuries and rotating players, the style was different from game-to-game, but it was consistent. Pellegrini wasn’t stuck in his ways; if we needed an adjustment, he’d make it. Sure he made mistakes this year, but who wouldn’t over the course of many months? What he did was learn from them, much like anyone would, and improved the plan for the next game.
It is hard to put into words what this title means to the fans, as I still get goose bumps and teary eyed over watching highlights, but what it does is make us proud. Proud, loud and loyal. I would like to thank all of you readers for your input throughout the year and if you think I don’t read all of your comments, I’m here to tell you it’s quite the opposite. Without you guys, there is no "Bitter and Blue", and we appreciate what you bring to the site. What a year to be a Blue, and what a future we have.