By this time tomorrow, Manchester City will either be crowned Premier League champions or have the highest points tally for a second placed team. There has been nothing between the blues and Liverpool, with City going into the final day one point clear and favourites to retain their title.
Recent history is on City’s side, but historically, it hasn’t always been plain sailing going into the last day. Here are some of the best, and worst moments from the blues previous ends to the season.
1989 – Bradford City
In May 1989, the blues needed a point at Bradford to win automatic promotion. City’s season had been stumbling, having won one of their previous five matches, but a point at Valley Parade would seal promotion back to the First Division.
But City being City, they had to put their fans through hell before gaining the point they required. Going behind to a first half goal, the blues had chance after chance, but failed to take any, and with Crystal Palace, the only team that could stop them, winning 4-0, it looked like the blues would fail at the last hurdle. However, a sweeping move that started with goalkeeper Paul Cooper ended at the feet of Trevor Morley, who flicked the ball into the back of the net to send the blues up.
1996 – Liverpool
The blues had struggled all season, but by the last day, there was a chance they could have survived relegation to Division One. All they had to do was beat Liverpool in their final game of the season. Anything less than victory would see the blues looking elsewhere for help if they were to survive.
It didn’t start how the blues would have liked as Steve Lomas put the ball into his own net after just six minutes. It got worse for City as Ian Rush doubled the visitors lead four minutes before half-time. The situation looked bleak for City, but they were given hope when the blues were awarded a penalty on 71 minutes, which Uwe Rosler buried to reduce the deficit. Seven minutes later, Kit Symons equalised and City went in search of a winner. Towards the end of the match, the blues thought one of their relegation rivals were losing and tried to play for a draw, until Niall Quinn raced along the touchline to tell the team they needed a third. They couldn’t get it and the blues once again dropped out of the top flight on the final day.
1998 – Stoke City
In 1998, the blues went to Stoke on the final day, looking for a win that would save them from relegation to the third tier of English football. Not only that, but they needed help from elsewhere if they were to avoid the dreaded drop.
Shaun Goater gave them hope by giving the bleus the lead after 32 minutes. Paul Dickov doubled the lead on 49 minutes, and while Stoke pulled a goal back on 62, Lee Bradbury and Goater increased the lead further. Stoke made it 4-2, but Kevin Horlock made it 5-2 in the 90th minute. But it still meant relegation for City, with Port Vale and Portsmouth winning their matches to send City down again.
2000 - Blackburn
In May 2000, the blues were two points ahead of third placed Ipswich and needed to match the result of the Suffolk side to win back to back promotion. Ipswich were at home to Barnsley and were expected to win, meaning the blues had to secure victory at Ewood Park to secure a return to the top flight. And the match gave a new meaning to the phrase ‘a game of two halves.’
Blackburn took the lead in the first half and hit the woodwork four times as they threatened to overrun the blues and condemn City to the lottery of the play-offs. But after the home side hit the post for the final time, and with City fans littered around the ground, something suddenly clicked and the blues stepped it up.
Shaun Goater sent those blues fans wild with his second half equaliser, before an own goal from Christian Dailly put the blues ahead for the first time. Mark Kennedy made it 3-1, before Paul Dickov, Wembley hero twelve months earlier, raced through to score a fourth and send the blues backto the Premier League.
2003 – Southampton
The final day of the season in 2003 was an emotional one for blues fans. Maine Road, City’s home for 80 years, was to witness its final ever game before the club moved from south to east Manchester. And in true City style, they just had to mess it up.
Southampton were the visitors, and the final team to score at Maine Road as Iain Dowie grabbed a first half goal to condemn the blues to defeat.
2005 – Middlesbrough
A season earlier, City had narrowly avoided another relegation, but a huge change in fortunes had seen the blues propelled to within one win if qualifying for the UEFA Cup. It was between City and Middlesbrough as to who would take seventh spot and the place in Europe, and by sheer coincidence, the two would face off on the final day of the season.
Boro took the lead, but City equalised in the second half, before the blues were awarded a penalty in the final minute of the season. A win would have taken the blues above Boro and into European competition, but Robbie Fowler saw his spot kick saved and the blues were denied with almost the final kick of the season.
2008 – Middlesbrough
It was supposed to be a new era for City. Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra had purchased the club in 2007 and invested heavily in the team as well as installing former England boss Sven Goran Erikssen as manager. The blues had been flying at the start of the season, but just six wins in 21 league and cup matches had raised doubts about the Swede’s position, and Shinawatra had publicly stated Sven’s job would be reviewed at the end of the season.
It had an adverse effect on the team as City suffered their heaviest defeat, losing 8-1 on Teeside, conceding six second half goals, including three in a ten minute spell. This lead to blues fans turning on the owner, blaming the timing of his statements to cause discord amongst the players. Less than three months later, Shinawatra sold the club to ADUG.
2012 – QPR
This one will never, ever get old. The final day of the season saw City at home to relegation threatened QPR, looking for the three to secure the title. Meanwhile, United travelled to Sunderland, knowing that a win, coupled with City failing to win, would result in United winning the Premier League again. And it very nearly happened.
Both teams were 1-0 up at half time, but a crazy 20 minute period saw QPR equalise, Joey Barton get sent off for the visitors before City went 2-1 down. United fans revelled and blues fans could hardly believe what they were seeing. City hadn’t been beaten in the league at home all season, but QPR were threatening to do just that. City were out of ideas until Edin Dzeko headed home a David Silva corner. Two minutes later, as the crowd urged City forward, QPR capitulated as Sergio Aguero latched onto Mario Balotelli’s pass, to skip past the QPR defence and bury his low shot into the back of the net.
The blues won the match and the league, but not before giving their fans one hell of a scare.
2014 – West Ham
In 2014, the blues were seeking their second Premier League title in three years, but this time, Liverpool were the chasing team. On this occasion, City went into the final day two points ahead of the Merseysiders and only needed a point to secure the title. This time, there were no dramatics.
Samir Nasri gave the blues the lead in the first half, and Mr Manchester City himself, Vincent Kompany, made sure of the points scoring from close range to put the blues 2-0 up. City lifted the title again in Manuel Pellegrini’s first season.
2016 – Swansea
Despite reaching the Champions League semi-final, the blues were struggling to qualify for the competition for the following season. City were in fourth place, two points ahead of United going into the final day. City needed a point at least to qualify for the Champions League, but if they lost and United won, it would mean the Europa League next season.
Kelechi Iheanacho gave the blues a fifth minute lead, but that was cancelled out at half-time by the Swans. The second half saw no further goals, and once again, City’s superior goal difference saw the blues pip United to a higher placed finish.
With the Premier League trophy at stake, and with the blues having one hand on it, will they hold their nerve to claim their fourth Premier League title?