Man City secure title and target Premier League domination

May 12, 2014
Bill Mann

Thrilling title race ends with more of a whimper than a bang as City finish with a routine win


THE most gripping of Premier League seasons ended with the mildest of whimpers as Manchester City wrapped up their second title in three seasons with an easy 2-0 win over West Ham United. There was no repeat of the drama of 2012, when City required a stoppage time goal from Sergio Aguero to pip Manchester United and secure their first top-flight title since 1968. This time around Manuel Pellegrini's side barely broke sweat as they got the result they needed to deny Liverpool their first title in 24 years.

The Reds, who had been favourites to lift the trophy, did what they needed to do on the final day, beating Newcastle 2-1 at Anfield, but the wait goes on for Liverpool as City manager Manuel Pellegrini celebrated success less than a year after replacing Roberto Mancini at the Etihad.

"I think that I manage a great group of players, a great institution and great fans," said the Chilean amid all the euphoria in the blue half of Manchester. "It was a very special season for us. We didn't start very well but I think the most important thing we did this year is when we finished playing our sixth game away, we had one point from 18 and I told the players we had to make a change... they always believed what I told them about how I wanted to play and how I think football should be."

City captain Vincent Kompany described the title triumph as "a great achievement", adding: "Forget about the money and everything. As a kid, you grow up and dream of lifting trophies, I feel like I am living that dream when I do this. We are building a club. Not just a team that wins trophies every now and again. Next year we need to be even better. If you want to be a big club then this must be one of so many."

In contrast there were a lot of brave faces on show at Anfield but a palpable sense of what might have been. A fortnight ago Liverpool had their destiny in their hands, but defeat to Chelsea, followed by last week's collapse against Crystal Palace, handed the title to City. "It's been a wonderful campaign," reflected Brendan Rodgers, who saw his side come from a goal behind to win 2-1 thanks to strikes from Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge. "We've made the supporters dream and that is our job to do that. We'll add to the group and we'll be ready to fight again next season, but now we've got the belief."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admitted that they had fallen "a little bit short" but vowed: "We've proved this season that we're capable of mixing it with the best and we want another title race, and we want to go one better next year... things have changed here, the supporters know that and the players know that."

Meanwhile Chelsea also finished the season on a high, winning 2-1 away at Cardiff after goals from Andre Schurrle and Fernando Torres cancelled out  Craig Bellamy's early strike for the Bluebirds. The Blues finished third, one spot above Arsenal, who also signed off on winning note, a 2-1 victory at Norwich. The result confirmed that the Canaries will spend next season in the Championship. Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson were on target for the Gunners and manager Arsene Wenger later rubbished rumours linking him with the Monaco job, declaring: "I wish Monaco well, but there is no interest there."

Finally, any hopes Manchester United had of pipping Tottenham to sixth spot, and a place in next season's Europa League, were dashed by Spurs' 3-0 win against Aston Villa, and their own 1-1 draw at Southampton. "It's been an experience with ups and downs, admitted Manchester United interim manager Ryan Giggs. "I've enjoyed it and... the managerial situation will be sorted in the next week and I need to have a think about what I will do."

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