Right to the wire but City should not need last kick this time
The title race in England will reach its climax tomorrow and just like when Manchester City won their first Premier League title two years ago, this one is also going right down to the last game of the season.
However, while City won that title with virtually the last kick of the game against Queens Park Rangers, this one should be a little more straightforward for City, who need only a point at home to West Ham United.
I think this campaign has been just as exciting as that one, with plenty of twists and turns, and for those who don’t like English football, they don’t know what they’re missing. It has been exciting from the day it started last summer, when Aston Villa went to the Emirates Stadium and produced the season’s first upset, 3-1 over Arsenal.
Fast forward nine months and the race has come down to two teams, although I must say Liverpool have only themselves to blame after blowing it at home against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago before doing the unthinkable in midweek against Crystal Palace when they blew a 3-0 lead in the last ten minutes to draw 3-3. City capitalised the next day when they thrashed Villa and now they are set to win the title.
Liverpool cannot blame anyone else because to let Palace to come back into the game in the closing minutes is pathetic on their part. I did not understand their plan to go for more goals rather than get the points and let things take care of themselves. I realise they needed to improve their goal difference, but they did not heed the warning after Palace scored their first goal.
They threw caution to the wind and before they knew it, it was three-all and Palace were probably unlucky in the end not to win it. If you want to win the league, you cannot drop points like that. I felt sorry for Luis Suárez who was crying like a baby, which tells you the passion that he has for the game.
If there is one more twist in it, I would be very surprised based on the type of football West Ham are playing at present. It’s not pretty but it gets results. But against a team like City, you are not going to be able to do that if you don’t get the ball — and City hold on to the ball. City’s manager will tell his players, “No nerves, let’s get the job done, we’re professionals.”
At the other end of the table, there were some dramatic relegation escapes for three teams, Palace, West Ham and now Sunderland who pulled off the great escape after being bottom at Christmas. Four wins and a draw in their past five games, including wins away to Manchester United and Chelsea and a 2-2 draw away to Manchester City, enabled them to climb out of the bottom three and now they can finish as high as twelfth.
Head coach Gustavo Poyet has done a fantastic job at Sunderland. They have played some good football and deserved to get out of it because when you look at the games they’ve won, not many people gave them a chance — like going to Chelsea and Manchester United and getting results. You have to give the coaches of those three teams credit because they had a plan, stuck with it and were able to get the job done.
This week there was a proposal put forward by a commission set up by Greg Dyke, the FA chairman, to create a “League Three” made up of B teams from the Premier League teams in an attempt to increase exposure for English-born players. The idea is to introduce a fifth-tier league by 2016-17 and put a limit on the amount of overseas players.
I do think they have to do something because the national team are not very good at the present time and the reason they are not good is the young English players do not play enough games. At least they will get games because now right they are just sitting on the bench. It is a good suggestion, at least from a national team point of view.
The players are going to be playing and the only way to get better is by playing games, not sitting on the bench. Of course, there is some objection to the plan, but money controls football and I do feel sorry for some of the lower-division teams. It’s all about making progress and if you want the national team to be competitive, you have to do the right things.