Manchester United: The six games that cost them the title
Manchester United started the defence of the Premier League title impressively. They beat West Brom away, saw off Spurs 3-0 before smashing Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford, whipping Bolton 5-0 at the Reebok and beating Chelsea 3-1. It looked as though Sir Alex had obviously learned a lot from the lesson dished out to them by Barcelona in the Champions League Final at Wembley. However, in the end it just wasn’t enough as Manchester City sealed the title in the most dramatic of finishes.
Sir Alex goes into the summer with an awful lot to think about but the great man will certainly relish the challenge from the noisy neighbours.
Here are the six games that cost United the title.
MANCHESTER UNITED 1 Manchester City 6 October 23, 2012
Sir Alex Ferguson knew Manchester City were going to be his biggest rivals this season, but not even in his darkest nightmares did he ever see this happening. Mario Balotelli opened the scoring before capitalising on Jonny Evans’s red card to make it two. Sergio Arguero made it three before Darren Fletcher pulled one back. That just riled City though who ran riot in the final few minutes scoring three to record one of the most extraordinary results ever in the Premier League.
MANCHESTER UNITED 2 Blackburn Rovers 3 December 31, 2012
If the City result wasn’t bad enough, United then ruined Sir Alex’s birthday by getting beat at home by the bottom side Blackburn Rovers. Steve Kean was under immense pressure from his own supporters but he took his players to Old Trafford and allowed them to dream. Yakubu gave them a shock half-time lead through a penalty and made it two six minutes into the second half. United pulled one back immediately though Dimitar Berbatov and everyone knew the comeback was on. The Bulgarian levelled proceeding 10 minutes later and it was surely only a matter of time before the Red Devils made it three. Unfortunately it was Blackburn who found the back of the net again, Grant Hanley capitalising on indecision in the United defence.
Newcastle United 3 MANCHESTER UNITED 0 January 4, 2012
The Blackburn result was a terrible way to end 2011, but Newcastle were going to give them an awful welcoming to 2012 too. Alan Pardew’s men had been going great guns in the league and Demba Ba was scoring for fun. He opened the scoring on 33 minutes and Yohan Cabaye doubled their advantage two minutes after the restart. United dominated possession but they just couldn’t find a way past Tim Krul. Their misery was compounded right at the death when Phil Jones scored an own goal. That result put City three points in front and forced Sir Alex to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement.
Wigan Athletic 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 0 April 11, 2012
This was never in the script. Wigan Athletic had been an easy three points for United since time began. However, Roberto Martinez’s men were battling for their life at the foot of the table and came together to produce another crazy scoreline in the Premier League. Wigan had a header from Moses ruled out by the linesman before Shaun Maloney popped up with a quality right foot strike. United thought they should have had a penalty after the ball hit the arm of Figueroa, but the officials wouldn’t budge. City, who only days earlier had been beaten by Arsenal, thrashed West Brom 4-0 to cut the gap at the top to five points.
MANCHESTER UNITED 4 Everton 4, April 22, 2012
Manchester United are the team famed for scoring late goals at Old Trafford, so Everton’s two late strikes in this game really came as a huge shock to the system. Jelavic put the visitors ahead with a looping header over De Gea but United were back on level terms just before half-time thanks to Everton supporter Wayne Rooney. Wellbeck made it 2-1 with a glorious curling shot into the top corner and Nani made it three following some neat build-up play between Carrick and Wellbeck. Everton pulled one back through Fellaini but Rooney regained their two goal advantage with his 180th goal for United. But Everton weren’t done with yet. Jelavic made it 4-3 with a stunning volley before Steven Pienaar latched on to a cute ball from Fellaini who slipped home the equaliser. This result gave Manchester City hope once more, as United still had to play at the Etihad.
Manchester City 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 0 April 30, 2012
It was billed as the biggest Manchester derby of all time and the winner of this game was all but sure of clinching the title. Manchester United started with Giggs and Scholes and never really got going. In fact United failed to trouble Jo Hart once during the entire game. City captain Vincent Kompany was the hero of the hour for Roberto Mancini’s men, scoring with a bullet header just before the first half came to an end. City went top on goal difference and gave them control of their own destiny.