Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

This piece almost had the title Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory. Manchester City left it late, very late. They took their supporters to the precipice of disaster and despair where nothing other than the plunge beckoned, only to haul them back from the brink at the very last second. For the past three weeks the championship had been theirs for the taking. Yet with only minutes remaining they were trailing 2-1 at home to relegation candidates, QPR. It seemed City had blown it and faced being labelled chokers for having bottled it at the last minute. A team that can’t rise to the occasion when it must is not championship material. The boxer Jack Dempsey once said that ‘a champion is someone who gets up when he can't.’ City proved their championship mettle when they got up from the dead.

In my young years I was a City fan, first sharing loyalty with and then transferring it to Liverpool in the 1970s, as boyhood heroes Summerbee, Lee and Bell all finished their time at the club. Once I was excused homework by the school teacher, a priest by the name of John O’Sullivan, in order to be able to attend a European game at Windsor Park where City played Linfield. The Blues won 2-1 but unfortunately it was not the Blues I was there to cheer on. Despite the drift to Liverpool, who I also watched live for the first time at Windsor, I nevertheless wanted to see City emerge victors, not least because it would add spice to a league that had become too predictable due to the prowess of Manchester United, the team my son gives his loyalty to.  

With only minutes remaining I switched off, shut down, gave up the ghost, whatever best describes a state of emptiness, and headed off convinced it was all over, the trophy on its way to Old Trafford where it has long come to look like part of the furniture. I had left the house somewhat deflated at what looked like the type of surrender Liverpool delivered in the 1988/89 season when they waved the white flag at Arsenal in the last minute of the game: an unpardonable act in a season where 96 of their fans died and whose loss deserved better. I opted to go for a walk, listen to some music and clear my head. Bad enough having to put up with Liverpool all year, it now looked as if the only real challenge to the dominance of Manchester United was about to collapse in an undignified heap.

Earlier in the afternoon I sat in a local pub with Kevin Bean, a fellow Red with whom I have attended a few Liverpool games at Anfield and elsewhere over the years. We discussed City’s chances and agreed that against QPR it looked a sure thing. Like most Liverpool fans we both wanted to see the title go to the blue side of Manchester.  By late afternoon it looked as if it was not to be.

Only minutes into my walk mentally writing City’s obituary I anticipated – while eager to avoid – joyous, raucous Manchester United supporters bursting out of the local pubs and onto the streets to celebrate. It failed to materialise. Instead I got a text from Kevin saying City managed it. Thinking he was winding me up I asked the score and he told me 3-2 with both goals coming in added time.

It was an amazing turnaround that can only be good for soccer. City showed mettle and determination to surpass that of even Chelsea’s Olympian efforts. 

Manchester City got up when they couldn’t. Real champions.


  1. Mackers,
    Do soccer pundits ever spare a thought for the suffering women sitting at home.
    I have had to listen to two drunken man utd supporters verbally and mentally replaying that game over and over in a bid to work out how it went disasterously wrong.
    When I commented that, it may of had something to do with the other team scoring more goals, they said crap!!!.

  2. Nuala,

    women like football too! Manu Utd supporters, it doesn't do to listen to them too much!

  3. Such derogatory comments should not be tolerated Anthony,its bad enough having to read them when your head is thumpimg due to an attack of falling down water,Nuala dont you know when your in the presence of greatness(Al and Kevin) one should remain quiet.
    Steven Gerrard is writing a book about his time at has no title

  4. The wife asked me last night if I could be more like Man utd during sex"what do you mean" I asked she replied "stay on top for ages then come second"..

  5. KD thinks he has a job for next season @ Anfield !

  6. Dave,

    Ronnie Whelan thinks KD will start the season as manager but will need to deliver if he is to remain there.

    Commiserations Marty. But what a great way to end the season. I got accused today by an old friend on Facebook of being an ABU! Just think it’s a good result for soccer

  7. Kenny is gone. Once my hero, I grew to dislike his rude, arrogant, condescending comments after every game. Great player, clueless manager.

  8. Colman,

    the first I knew of it was with your comment. Checked it out and he has gone. Wasn't up to the job

  9. Dave,

    you were right and Ronnie Whelan was wrong!