Much as 1986 was a good year for wine and 1989 was an even better year for rock and roll, 2012 was a supremely memorable year for anyone in or around the Manchester City fraternity.
When we talk of what is memorable, it is not just about the great and successful times. It is about those glimpses of football that stay lodged in your mind for years to come, be it for something one loves or something they hate.
With all this talk of the apparent Mayan apocalypse, the time would seem appropriate to look back on 2012 so far and chronicle just why no Citizen will be quick to forget it.
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A very recent revelation at the Etihad Stadium was the unveiling of the club’s revenue figures for the 2011-12 season, an ever-anticipated event around the Abu Dhabi-owned club.
The annual numbers were released earlier this month and while some may look at what was revealed as hugely unimpressive, the club have undoubtedly come on leaps and bounds in the last year alone.
For any other club, annual losses of almost £100 million may be disheartening, but considering that Manchester City took a hit of £197.5 million the year before, things are not as bleak as they look (via Official Manchester City Website).
With Financial Fair Play not too far away, it is important that clubs get their finances in check and a very fruitful 2011-12 campaign, combined with some lowered transfer activity in 2012 would appear to make for good omens.
Many have criticised the way in which Manchester City operate and spend their money but if they continue to improve along these lines, the criticisms will fall upon deaf ears.
Prior to 2012, the most players that Manchester City had ever had named in a PFA Team of the Year line-up was two. That achievement came in 2011.
This year, the side led by Roberto Mancini managed to impress enough in their domestic form to see four of their players added to the PFA roster, double that of their previous record (via Sky Sports).
The fact that the record was smashed in such magnanimous style undoubtedly showed that the “new kids on the block” were something more than just that but also that this team was here to stay.
However, there was an altogether more moral victory in the elections also.
Since the introduction of the Premier League, the PFA Team of the Year has been dominated by the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers and not to mention City’s biggest rivals, Manchester United.
Therefore, seeing more Citizens than Red Devils added to the XI-man side for the first time in history represented a turning point in the club’s evolution, epitomising their move out of United’s shadow and into independence.
Following a 20-week stay at the summit of the English top flight, Manchester City fans were all of a sudden forced to rethink their celebration plans after suffering a surprise loss at the Liberty Stadium.
In fairness, the result came in a time of great prosperity for Swansea City where fans had become accustomed to earning fine results at home under Brendan Rodgers.
That being said, it’s times such as these where title are lost or won and what followed for Mancini’s men was an uncertain string of unenviable results including draws against Stoke and Sunderland, as well as a loss to Arsenal.
Regardless of how things panned out in the end, Manchester City can look back at this loss as the moment that almost undid their marvellous 2011-12 season, nearly putting a lot of good work to waste.
Selected by the League Manager’s Association as the Performance of the Week, Manchester City showed that they were in no way keen on slowing their march to domestic success in the penultimate week of their Premier League season.
Despite their superior table position, doubts were still creeping in as late as May that the bid for glory would ultimately unravel at St. James’ Park. However, it was not to be the case.
Instead, the then-league leaders put on a classy display with Yaya Toure contributing with a two-goal haul of his own against Newcastle United, one of, if not the division’s most in-form side.
With Manchester United champing at their heels, the clash in the north-east could easily have been labelled as City’s most important of the season for those whom are not under the “every game’s as important as the last” mentality.
In what was the club’s first ever participation in the Champions League, it may have been a tad over-expectant of audiences to think that City would do amazingly well in Europe in 2011-12, even with their vast resources.
Coincidentally enough, the Citizens failed to make it past the group stage of Europe’s most prestigious club competitions and found themselves trying to make a go of their Europa League run.
While it is not on the same par as its elder cousin, the Europa League has still proven itself to be a harsh arena at times, testing even the most gifted of sides to their limits against surprisingly talented opposition.
City were handed the toughest of introductions upon their dropping down into the tournament and were pitted against FC Porto, the competition’s defending champions, in the Round of 32.
Perhaps to the amazement of some, the English outfit managed to cruise past Los Dragōes, earning victories both home and away to claim a 6-1 victory overall.
While the club went on to lose their Round of 16 fixture against Sporting Lisbon, their overcoming of Porto represented the overcoming of a major obstacle for the club, with the 4-0 second-leg win a particularly encouraging result on one of Europe’s biggest stages.
That being said, 2012 has also given us reason to believe that for all their spending over the last four years, Manchester City still aren’t ready to tackle the continent’s big guns.
The 2012-13 Champions League campaign was City’s second consecutive year competing in the tournament but supporters of the club will have been aggrieved to see the opposition they would face.
Positioned in what was dubbed this season’s “Group of Death”, the Citizens would be pitted against Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax, all of whom had won their domestic leagues the season before.
Even though it was largely known that the club wouldn’t be passing through to the knockout stages of the competition, 4th December marked the date that Manchester City lost to Borussia Dortmund, finishing the group phase with an embarrassing points tally of three and not one win to their name.
This season’s Champions League exit was a sharp reminder that City still have a long way to go before they establish the kind of weight needed to throw around on the European stage and leaving the club with plenty to think about before future involvement.
Looking to beat their bitter rivals on three consecutive occasions for the first time in their history, City welcomed Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium in early December with a specific agenda in mind.
The past 14 months had already seen the Citizens beat the Red Devils 6-1 in their own territory before finishing off the double with a 1-0 back at the Etihad last season.
It’s no secret that, whether as part of one of his elaborate mind games or as a genuine confession of his beliefs, Sir Alex Ferguson has dubbed Manchester City the “noisy neighbours” of Manchester United, the club he has grown into a consistent world-beater.
With that in mind, it was not to be Mancini’s day this season as Ferguson’s side emerged as 3-2 victors away from home, opening up a six-point lead at the head of the Premier League table.
While the blue half of Manchester is far from out of the title race this early, such a loss surrenders a certain amount of bragging rights to the victors, a valuable commodity in a market such as the one between this particular pair.
Only in May will we see who is truly the dominant force between Manchester City and Manchester United at the moment, but for now, it would be the latter that certainly sit in control with a landmark victory of their own.
Having not won the crown for 40 years, it’s fair to say that Manchester City’s 2012 FA Community Shield fixture held almost as much importance to a club in desperate search of silverware as any other final opportunity.
After spending a fair 30 years or so away from any period of remote dominance, now is the time for City to pounce on any trophy they might get their hands on.
So, while some may discount the importance of the Community Shield (formerly the Charity Shield), Manchester City will consider its acquisition a valuable one in their move towards greatness.
The preseason victory was especially impressive considering it came against Chelsea, who had spent much of the summer revamping and, for the most part, improving their already quite talented squad.
As was aforementioned, last season saw Manchester City complete the league double over fierce rivals and local opposition, Manchester United, in what was truly a symbol of the shift in power occurring in the area.
With Manchester United at the head of the table but with an inferior goal difference, victory for Roberto Mancini’s band would seem them assume first place for the remainder of the season.
As a result, it was this result that would be looked upon by most as the eventual title decider, and rightly so by all accounts.
Coping well with the pressure placed upon them, the Citizens managed to finish off the Red Devils with a 1-0 victory, showcasing the aspect of their side that had them so indefatigable all season-long, a supremely staunch defence.
With three points in the bag with just two games left to play, Manchester City were now in the Premier League driving seat, and all by their own doing, preparing themselves for what was to come.
How could it be anything else?
The tip of the iceberg for Manchester City’s year was undoubtedly the sealing of their first Premier League crown and their first top division title since 1968, going back over 40 years.
With Manchester United having already won against Sunderland, the ball was in City’s court as to who would ultimately lift the Premier League trophy.
Finding themselves down 2-1 with 92 minutes gone against QPR, the drama that unfolded in the dying seconds at the Etihad Stadium that day is a memory etched into not just Manchester City’s 2012 but a memory that will live on forever with any true Citizen.
Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero proved to be the difference in bringing Manchester City their first league title for a generation, sparking the Etihad into eruption like never before.
All the criticisms, labelling and unjust accusations were laid to bed this day, if only temporary, replaced only by praise for a club celebrating a moment of sheer delirium.
As was mentioned earlier, the Mayans predict 2012 to be the year of the apocalypse, but I am sure many a Manchester City supporter would tell you they could not pick a better time, however far-fetched the superstition may be.