13th May 2012. A day that will live long in the memory of City fans everywhere. 93:20 – a time that will always be synonymous with Manchester City Football Club. At the that precise moment, blues fans held a collective breath and the football world watched as City pulled of the most likely result in the most unlikely of circumstances. But what did that moment mean to Manchester City supporters? Let’s dissect it with the help of this video.
Forty four years had passed between City’s title last title win and all that was needed was victory over relegation threatened Queens Park Rangers. The blues had won all but one of their home games in the league, what could possibly go wrong?
The last time City won the league was 1968 with a 4-3 win at Newcastle. The title win was an amazing turnaround of City’s fortunes; only five years earlier, the blues had been relegated from Division One, winning just ten games from 42 matches. Their first season in Division Two saw City finish 6th, then 11th and the top flight looked a million miles away, never mind the league title. Attendances were low and morale within the club was even lower. In 1965, City appointed Joe Mercer as manager and within a season, he started to turn the blues into winners. In his first season Mercer, alongside the flamboyant assistant Malcom Allison, lead City to the second division title. The blues lost just five games all season and won the league by five points, and the fans were looking forward to a new, exciting era at Maine Road.
Their first season back saw the blues finish 15th in the league, while United won the title by four points from Nottingham Forest and Spurs. Mercer believed the blues could challenge for honours. Nobody else did. In 1968, City and United went head to head for the title. If the blues won at Newcastle, they would be champions, regardless of what United did against Sunderland. Both teams won but it was City that took the title for only the second time in their history. The blues embarked on their golden era, and while they didn’t exactly ‘terrify Europe,’ as Allison predicted, they won a few trophies along the way, but the silverware collection ended with a League Cup win in 1976.
Fast forward to 1996. United needed a draw at Middlesbrough while City needed to beat Liverpool. Sadly, this wasn’t for the league title for the blues; it was to avoid relegation. United had already won the Premier League twice and a 3-0 win on Teeside secured a third. City meanwhile came from 2-0 down at home to Liverpool and were infamously told to keep the ball in the corner. At 2-2, they were safe from relegation. The information was wrong; the blues needed a third goal but by the time the message was received by the players it was too late. While United revelled in glory, City plundered through the trap door again.
Fast forward again to 1998, and if things couldn’t get any worse, they were about to as the trapdoor opened once more for City to fall through. Years of despair followed as City went from bad to worse, then not so bad to okay, then back to bad again, before settling for not as bad as they had been but not as good as they could be.
By 31st August 2008, the fans had no idea which direction their club was going in, until ADUG came along, bought the club and immediately set about transforming the blues. Robinho arrived as a show of intent and others would follow. Within three years, the blues were unrecognisable, with internationals such as David Silva, Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez amongst their ranks. The league title was a priority following the FA Cup triumph of 2011, and just like in 1968, United were the team to beat.
The two teams had been deadlocked from the start, but it was City’s astounding 6-1 win at Old Trafford that the fans knew something special would happen that season. But for all the investment spent and the talent on show, the old City just couldn’t stay away
City were eight points behind United going into the final six games of the season. It should have been enough to see the reds to their 13th Premier League title at City’s expense. But City had won their last five matches, including beating their local rivals 1-0, while United had lost to Wigan and drawn with Everton to squander their advantage and give the blues hope of snatching the title from United’s grasp.
On May 13th 2012, blues fans poured into the stadium, some in expectation but many in hope that City wouldn’t, and surely couldn’t mess it up this time. All too often over the years, the blues had put their fans in a position of hope, only to whisk it away from them when it really mattered. On the final day of the season in 2012, the stands filled with supporters dreaming of seeing the trophy lifted by a City captain. It was just ninety minutes away from being a reality. But not one of those fans could have imagined the drama that would follow.
For nineteen first half minutes, the blues were champions. Then Wayne Rooney put United ahead at Sunderland and suddenly, City had it all to do. The fans were aware of the score and knew the blues had to score and soon to settle the nerves. And it duly came by the other Argentine.
Pablo Zabaleta took a pass from Yaya Toure and his shot was deflected onto the post and in by the QPR keeper. The Etihad erupted, the nerves and tension within the supporters released in that one moment. Half time arrived and City had one hand on the trophy.
But another team were playing a part as well. In the battle against relegation, Bolton had gone in at half time 2-1 up at Stoke. Suddenly it all changed for QPR. If the scores stayed as they were, City would win the league, but QPR would go down. The second half began and QPR went looking for goals.
Three minutes into the second half, they got one. Joleon Lescott’s wayward header went straight to Djibril Cisse, who rifled his shot past Joe Hart to level for Rangers. The City fans were stunned into silence, but there was still time to get another. They had to. Meanwhile in Sunderland, United fans started celebrating as news of the goal filtered through. As it stood, they were champions.
But it was a former blue who would give City a boost. Joey Barton was caught by the linesman after he elbowed Carlos Tevez in the face. Barton was sent off, but tried to start a melee that lasted a few minutes. He also kicked out at Sergio Aguero which continued the melee. Finally he left the pitch and the match continued, but for the blues fans in the stand, it didn’t pan out the way it should have done. Barton would later reveal that he attacked Aguero in an attempt to provoke a response and get a City player sent off too. It didn’t work.
Typical City had decided to make an appearance at half time, and on 66 minutes, the blues looked like capitulating as Jamie Mackie headed the R’s into the lead. Disbelief swept through the stands. The team that had won every single match bar one at home were now staring at defeat. On any other day, the fans would have shaken their heads and laughed about it, City fans have that sense of humour. But not today. Of all the days Typical City decided to show its face, it just had to be today, and for some, it was an occasion too many. The shell-shocked supporters watched on as their team struggled against the ten men of QPR, while at Sunderland, United fans were singing, dancing and celebrating already.
As the clock ticked down, there looked to be no hope for the blues. They toiled away but the end result looked like it would never come. In the last minutes of normal time, Mario Balotelli’s header looked certain to hit the net, but for a superb last ditch-save from the visiting keeper. The fans held their heads in their hands and some tears began to flow. After everything the fans had been through this season, it all came down to winning one game, but the team just seemed incapable of doing it one more time.
Because of Barton’s earlier antics, five minutes of injury time were added and City poured forward. As City won a corner, the Match of the Day commentator quoted the blues as being ‘truly cursed.’ The corner, two minutes into injury time, swung in and Edin Dzeko rose and buried his header beyond the keeper to level the scores. Suddenly, there was hope. There was belief. The fans urged their team forward. Forget celebrating, just get the ball back and score again. By this stage, Stoke had levelled against Bolton. Regardless of QPR’s result, the Trotters were down and the R’s were safe.
In the final moments leading up to 93:20, Vincent Kompany brought the ball forward and played it to Aguero.
BBC Commentator: “Aguero. If anyone can, he can”
Sky commentator Martin Tyler: “It’s finished at Sunderland. Manchester United have done all they can. That Wayne Rooney goal was enough for the three points.”
In Sunderland, United fans are celebrating. There’s no way City will score again. Surely it must be over in Manchester.
Aguero plays the ball to Balotelli. The Italian takes a touch with his left foot which turns the defender. Balotelli is losing his balance. There’s no way he’s getting a shot away. Instead, he flicks it forward with his right foot…
Kompany makes a run across goal which leaves a gap
Martin Tyler: “Manchester City still alive here…Balotelli…”
In the Sky Sports studio, Paul Merson: “There’s a chance, there’s a chance…”
In the stands, there’s a collective intake of breath as Aguero runs into the gap. He takes a touch past the defender who was wrong-footed by Kompany’s run. Aguero is through on goal…
In the stands, the fans beg for the ball to hit the net. No miskick, no hitting the post, no blazing it over. Score…just please…score.
The rest of the football world holds its breath. Could the blues do it?
Aguero strikes the ball cleanly. The net bulges and The Etihad erupts. Pandemonium in the stands.
Paul Merson screams “AGUERO”
Tyler and BBC Commentator: Agueroooooooooooooo
In the stands, derision and despair turns to delirium and delight.
In Sunderland, the home fans start cheering as the news filters through. In the United end, the singing, dancing and celebrating stops abruptly as the fans realise what has happened.
In Manchester, blues fans invade the pitch as the final whistle goes. Forty four years of pain and anguish evaporate in one moment of pure magic. It may only be our third ever league title. It’s not a patch on United’s nineteen or Liverpool’s eighteen, but at that moment, nobody cared.
It was our title.
It was a moment that the majority of blues never thought they would see. After bouncing between leagues, drawing at home to teams like Northampton Town, being beaten home and away by Wycombe Wanderers and constantly looking over their shoulder at the teams below, now they had something to celebrate. And the fact they took it from United, right at the last made it that much sweeter.
It had been a long journey from the depths of the lower leagues, but it was a journey to the best moment in Premier League history. The blues could have made it a bit easier at any point in the season without putting their fan base on the verge of nervous breakdowns and heart attacks.
But City don’t do easy, and despite the complaints, the fans would have it no other way.
Warning: Watching Manchester City can seriously damage your health.