Regardless of what happens tomorrow, this has been one heck of a season

2012-05-12 00:00

IT has been a season to remember. And while we say that every year, there is something about this one that stands out as special.

Manchester City’s presence at the summit of the Premier League table for much of the campaign is largely responsible for this. City have arrived, and regardless of what happens tomorrow, it doesn’t look like they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.

Victory over relegation contenders QPR tomorrow will hand Roberto Mancini and his Abu Dhabi bosses their first League crown since 1968 and celebrations in the blue half of Manchester will be as messy as ever.

And just down the road Sir Alex and his minions in red will be drowning their sorrows with only themselves to blame for squandering an eight-point lead. But as we have been reminded time and again, there are no easy games in Premier League football and Manchester’s red half will be looking to club legend Mark “Sparky” Hughes for one last favour. QPR are, after all, fighting for their lives.

But it is not only the Manchester clubs who have made the 2011/12 English season a memorable one. In fact, this is a season where most if not all of the clubs have given us some fuel for barstool banter at some stage.

Newcastle are perhaps most deserving of such special mention. With the uncharismatic Alan Pardew at the helm, very few took their Usain Bolt-like start to the season seriously.

But as the weeks turned into months, Pardew’s boys stayed put among the league’s elite. The Senegalese pairing of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse has been nothing short of revolutionary. They are perhaps the most exciting strike pairing the League has seen since United’s York/Cole love affair. It is unfortunate that Newcastle appear set to miss out on next season’s Champions League, but there is no doubt that Spurs deserve one of those spots.

Harry Redknapp’s side were labelled as serious title contenders for much of the season, and only hit a speed wobble once the sharp-tongued manager was so heavily linked with the vacant England job.

Of course, Chelsea can potentially dash the Champions League ambitions of Arsenal, Tottenham or Newcastle depending on how results tomorrow pan out.

Victory in the Champions League final against Bayern would mean that Chelsea, who will finish sixth in the league tomorrow, qualify for next year’s continental showpiece ahead of whoever finishes fourth.

Arsenal fans have had an emotional rollercoaster of a time. At one stage it appeared that the north Londoners would do well to finish in the top half of the table.

But in true Arsene Wenger fashion, and with the help of a certain left-footed Dutchman, the Gunners improved drastically in the second half of the campaign and are now a win away from securing third place.

And the season wouldn’t quite be complete without Roman Abramovich losing his cool and firing a Chelsea manager.

In what has become routine, Abramovich lost patience with his latest masterstroke, the young and energetic Andre Villas-Boas. AVB was replaced by Roberto Di Matteo, and Abramovich must now decide whether or not the little Italian has done enough to stay on at Stamford Bridge next season.

The story of Blackburn Rovers has also provided its share of drama. Manager Steve Kean has been battered by the club’s fans all season long, with calls for his sacking falling on deaf ears as the club’s unpopular owners, Venky’s, backed the boss. But Rovers were relegated after 11 years in the Premier League and Kean will be thankful that he will not have to return to Ewood Park for tomorrow’s tie at Chelsea. That could be a long 90 minutes for Rovers.

Quite possibly the howler of the season belongs to the Wolves board. Firing Mick McCarthy while the club was hovering in the relegation zone might have made sense if the new gaffer was anybody of notable esteem. But the inexperienced Terry Connor was completely out of his depth as Wolves quickly became rooted to the bottom of the log.

It seems that either QPR or Bolton will join Wolves and Rovers as the relegated clubs tomorrow, while Norwich and Swansea have taken to the top flight like ducks to water.

The latter have been particularly impressive, playing a Barcelona-esque brand of passing football at times.

After what has been an insanely intense season, even us fans will welcome a break from all the football. Heck, we might be able to venture outdoors next Sunday and enjoy the autumn air. But come August, we’ll be raring to go. And if City win tomorrow, Sir Alex will be raring to go too. Will he have enough in the tank to knock City of their perch? Or are Mancini’s Mancs here to stay? Either way, we’re in for a heck of a ride. Reading and Southampton are back, and with a little bit of luck, they will be joined by West Ham.

Cheers to the class of 2011/12. We won’t forget this one easily.

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