One to remember
|Aidil Rusli loves rock 'n' roll, still believes in the words "indie" and "underground", and after all these years still sings in his band Couple myspace.com/couple. You can get in touch with Aidil by emailing: [email protected]|
MAY 19 — Unless you’re a Manchester United fan or of one of the three teams relegated from the English Premier League (EPL), last Sunday was truly something special. As a Spurs fan, and with my team still in with a mathematical chance of snatching third place from our long-time rivals Arsenal, of course my main match was the one involving Spurs and Fulham, with regular switching of channels to also check out the score of the Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion game.
But there was simply no way I could resist checking out the Manchester City vs Queens Park Rangers and the Manchester United vs Sunderland matches just to see how the race for the EPL title was unfolding. For starters, it is not every season that we get so many things to be decided on the final day of the season. Usually the EPL title would’ve been decided with at least one or two matches to spare, leaving us neutrals concentrating on what’s happening at the other end of the table in the fight to avoid relegation, with probably only half the interest.
But this has been such a crazy season that everything’s still open for battle to the very final blow of the whistle at the very final match of the EPL season. As a Spurs fan I basically stopped hoping to get third place after our second last match, when we failed to beat Aston Villa despite dominating the match even after having a man sent off. It was a huge opportunity to have our destiny right in our hands come the final match of the season, but once we blew that opportunity I knew deep in my heart that it was very unlikely that Arsenal would blow their chance to secure third place and automatic Champions League qualification next season.
So even after going 2-0 up against Fulham, once I checked that the score remained 3-2 for Arsenal against West Brom after 80 minutes, I knew that we’d now have to wait to see whether Chelsea manages to win the Champions League or not this week, to see which team gets the fourth Champions League slot allocated to EPL teams every season.
From the 80th minute on, I basically stopped watching the matches involving Spurs and Arsenal and gave my full attention to the astonishing drama that was taking place at the Etihad Stadium where hosts and league frontrunners Manchester City found themselves trailing 2-1 to lowly Queens Park Rangers who were fighting for survival in the EPL. With Manchester United winning 1-0 against Sunderland, it really did seem that the unthinkable was going to unfold right before my eyes as a City team expected to steamroller past QPR was finding it hard to find their way against a resolute QPR defence, despite them basically camping in the QPR half and bombarding their opponents with whatever ammunition they could muster.Earlier in the week, this current EPL season was voted as the best season ever in the EPL’s history. While some might want to contest that decision, I personally think it is indeed one of the most exciting ones that I’ve ever seen yet, because it really did look like anything can happen in the course of this season. Top teams were losing matches left, right and centre, and to teams you’d never even think would trouble them. Just look at Wigan’s many scalps this season. There’s not even a gap now between the mid-table team and the ones who traditionally fight against relegation. It looked like a much more level playing field with huge room for surprises.
But whatever doubts anyone had against calling this season the best EPL season ever would have been extinguished once the five minutes of injury time started to unfold at Manchester City. I still fondly remember watching Manchester United’s great comeback against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final, back when I was studying in the UK and watching the match "live" on TV with my hostel mates. I remember vividly how the non-United fans in the room were celebrating and goading our United-loving friends as Bayern led 1-0 as the match went into injury time, only to fall flat on our faces as United somehow managed to conjure up two goals during injury time to win the trophy.
I can only imagine what the United fans felt as they waited for City’s five minutes of injury time to pass only to see City heroically come up with two goals before that match finished. I’m not a City fan, and the fact that they spent what seems like a gazillion amount of money to assemble their current squad makes me even less inclined to admire them, but I’d still have to give it to them – just when it looked like they were going to choke, they did something that can only be called United-esque, which is to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
And over the course of the season, with them scoring the most amount of goals and conceding the fewest, amassing a points total that would’ve been huge in any season, and beating United twice in the league, it’s definitely a victory deserved. Even as a neutral, this is for me truly a season to remember.