It’s in the bag for Liverpool! Remember 2011/12 when Man City, erm, won

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Sergio Aguero winning the title for Man City in 2012 Credit: PA Images
Sergio Aguero winning the title for Man City in 2012 Credit: PA Images

Man City have three times needed a result on the final day and three times won. This time they might not even need a win but Devon Loch etc…

Let that be a lesson…
There is some phenomenal straw-clutching from Neil Custis in The Sun, as he tries to form an argument that Manchester City winning the title ten years ago should serve as a warning to Manchester City in 2022 that the title is not yet won and they can still fall at the last like Devon Loch.

Well they could. But they didn’t in 2011/12, 2013/14 or in 2018/19 when Manchester City needed a result on the final day to win the title. Three times the pressure has been very much on and three times they have emerged as champions. That sounds like the lesson to learn from history, rather than ‘remember that time when they nearly didn’t win it but actually did’.

There’s a reason why City are 1/16 to win the title and it’s not just because they have won their last five games and scored 22 goals in the process (though that is very compelling) but because they have been here before and always, always emerged triumphant. Oh and they only need to beat West Ham or Aston Villa.

But let Neil convince you otherwise…

City have both hands hovering on the handles now.

‘It should be straightforward, with a maximum of four points needed from Sunday’s trip to West Ham and a home closer with Aston Villa on May 22.

‘But what that run-in a decade ago and the final day told us is that being so close to something so special can still do funny things. Take your eye off the ball and, bang, it’s gone.’

Or not. It wasn’t gone. They won. Just as they did eight years ago and just as they did three years ago under this same manager against this same team.

‘City do not have to look back ten years to know the dangers of that. Try less than a fortnight ago.

‘Two goals to the good and coasting in their pursuit of a second successive Champions League final, then the meltdown in Madrid. They thought they were there and just lost it.’

Yep. Couple of things here.

First, that’s the Champions League and Manchester City have a habit of ludicrous losses in the Champions League but not, and this seems crucial, in the Premier League.

Second, they are facing Aston Villa at home on the final day and not Real Madrid in the Bernabeu.

Third, if they beat West Ham on Sunday (as they have done in their last 11 Premier League meetings) they just need to avoid being tw*tted by Villa on the final day at home. Even Devon Loch could manage that.

But Custis is not having that…

So given they avoid defeat at the Hammers it is “only” Aston Villa at home in the last game.

Though Villa’s narrow Tuesday defeat at home suggested they are anything but on the beach.’

‘Given they avoid defeat’ is excellent. Custis has not actually taken into account a Manchester City win, which would render the final game against Villa close to moot. Villa were decent against Liverpool but it’s hard to see them hitting City for six or seven.

‘What if on the final day Liverpool go ahead early at Anfield against this same Wolves side who succumbed to Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliance last night?

‘That is what happened ten years ago, as United took the lead at Sunderland and tension gripped the Etihad.

‘Pablo Zabaleta’s opener lifted it but then City lost their heads — it needed the most remarkable bit of drama on 93 minutes 20 seconds to recover the situation.’

That’s a lot of ‘what ifs’. So the scenario is that Manchester City only draw against West Ham and then Liverpool go ahead against Wolves on the final day? And that’s your considered reaction to City battering Wolves 5-1 on Wednesday night?

Is there a chance that a City side with five titles in a decade might be more impervious to pressure than one on the verge of their first title? Maybe? That a side in a similar scenario just three years ago might be rather more equipped to deal with the pressure of needing to win just one of two games against inferior opposition? Hell, Manchester City went behind to Brighton when needing a victory on 2019’s final day; they won 4-1.

‘Golfers can’t hit a ball straight, tennis players forget how to serve, Devon Loch falls when there is no fence.

‘And a team can collectively relax when the job appears to be done, as City did in the Bernabeu.

‘Even for now-seasoned title winners, with another four Prem crowns added since that first, it can unravel.’

It can. But it literally never has. And we hate to labour the point but City only have to beat West Ham or Aston Villa. They don’t have to beat Real Madrid.

Aguero’s day ten years ago should be celebrated but, ahead of the final two games, it will also serve as a warning.’

If one person – who is not Neil Custis – at the ten-year anniversary celebrations of Manchester City’s first Premier League title says ‘well, this should serve as a warning’ then they should be hung, drawn, quartered and made to wear a Manchester United shirt with ‘Custis’ on the back until the end of time, or at least until Manchester United win another title. Whichever comes first.

Stop talking zen-se
‘ZEN-SATIONAL’ is the headline on The Sun’s football homepage as we are told that ‘Four-goal De Bruyne salutes Haaland with celebration as City demolish Wolves’.

Two problems here, guys.

1) The celebration is literally never mentioned by Martin Blackburn in the match report that accompanies that headline, largely because nobody even noticed the ‘zen’ celebration (which was actually nothing like Haaland’s seated zen pose) until Sky Sports tweeted this:

2) Kevin De Bruyne said he “didn’t know” it was even close to a Haaland celebration and just held up three fingers because he scored three goals and that “never happens”. This clarification seems important. Unless you want clicks…

‘Kevin De Bruyne copies Erling Haaland’s ‘zen pose’ celebration after Man City star scores FOUR at Wolves’ – The Sun.

This literally includes the words ‘after the game De Bruyne admitted on Sky Sports that he wasn’t intentionally copying Haaland, and was in fact just holding up three fingers to celebrate scoring his third goal’. But, you, know, clicks.

And we thought better of the BBC

‘Kevin de Bruyne: ‘Unstoppable’ Manchester City midfielder welcomes Erling Haaland with celebration’

But this is utterly ridiculous from the Evening Standard

‘Kevin De Bruyne confirms Erling Haaland inspiration behind Manchester City hat-trick celebration’

He literally did exactly the opposite.

The story begins:

‘Kevin De Bruyne remarked that Erling Haaland was the inspiration behind his celebration after hitting a first-half hat-trick for Manchester City.’

He literally did exactly the opposite.

‘After scoring his third goal with only 24 minutes on the clock, De Bruyne made the ‘zen’ hand gesture akin to Haaland’s trademark goal celebration.

‘“I did a couple of interviews and they said with Haaland…” the Belgian joked on Sky Sports after the match.

‘“I didn’t even know, I just did it because I scored three!”’

He DIDN’T EVEN KNOW. And yet he ‘confirmed Erling Haaland inspiration’? Either someone cannot read or someone has no shame. Which is worse?

After the nonsense of earlier in the week, our hackles were raised by this headline on The Sun website:

‘Declan Rice transfer EXCLUSIVE, Erling Haaland to Man City full cost REVEALED, Rudiger to Real Madrid DONE’

That’s a lot of capitals.

‘According to talkSPORT, the release clause is in fact £51m and City’s deal will total £85.6m once agents fees and bonuses are factored in.

‘The star striker currently earns around £130,000-a-week at the Westfalenstadion, but that will nearly triple when he moves to the Etihad.

‘The Citizens will hand the Norway international a package deal worth £375,000-a-week’

Martin Blackburn will be glad to see that his Sun colleagues have only actually REVEALED that they read talkSPORT and not his own work, which gave us all those details two days ago.

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