Day: May 13, 2012

Somehow, Somehow, Somehow… Manchester City Are The Premier League Champions

Forty-four years ago, Manchester City broke their record transfer fee and splashed out £60,000 on Francis Lee from Bolton Wanderers. Several months later, they celebrated their first English championship for thirty-one years. At the start of this season, they broke that transfer record again and it was the man whose arrival at The City of Manchester Stadium did this, the £38m Sergio Aguero, who scored an almost inconceivable goal three minutes into stoppage-time to bring the title back to the club on an afternoon of emotional extremes which encapsulated why we love and loathe this beautiful, extraordinary, sanity-testing game. At five to three this afternoon, their job was easy. A win at home against a relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers would be enough to do it. Anything else, and they would be reliant upon Manchester United failing to take all three points from their trip to Wearside to play Sunderland. The stage was set for an afternoon that might have failed to live up to expectations. After all, Manchester City’s home form this season has been little short of sensational and Queens Park Rangers have carried something of a haunted look about them over the last few weeks. It hardly seemed inconceivable that Manchester City could bag an early goal, close the game out and leave us wondering what all the hype had been about. This, though, is Manchester City,...

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Euro 2012: The Runners And Riders – Greece

There is now less than a month to go until the European Championships kick off in Poland and Ukraine, and taking on the co-hosts in the opening match will be a nation that caused arguably the biggest surprise in the history of the competition: Greece. But with a new coach and having caused something of a surprise just to reach the last sixteen of this tournament, can Greece roll back the years to the summer of 2004? The History: After decades of relative non-achievement, German coach Otto Rehhagel travelled to the 2004 European Championships in Portugal which irritated the aesthetes but produced a stunning result. Greece beat the host nation twice, France and the Czech Republic on the way to lifting the trophy, but since then they have failed to replicate this success. In seeking to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, they were placed a tricky group and could only finish in fourth place, behind Ukraine, Turkey and Denmark. Their 2004 win meant that the team was placed as one of the top seeds in qualifying for the 2008 European Championships, and this time they lived up to their billing, winning ten of their twelve qualifying matches, finishing seven points clear of second-placed Turkey. Once at the finals, however, they couldn’t repeat their success of four years earlier and finished bottom of their group, having...

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