From Champs to Top 4 Contenders: What went wrong with the Manchester sides?

May 13, 2012 is a day that will forever linger at the back of my mind. It’s neither a birthday nor an anniversary, but the thought never evades me whenever the clock strikes May 13. Despite the remarkable sadness that memories of the day evoke, it still never goes unnoticed four years on.

For a Manchester City fan, it will forever be remembered as the day the dream was delivered while in stark contrast, it’s a regrettably, forgettable day for all United supporters.


The first league triumph and a manager more determined for redemption

A last gasp winner by Sergio Aguero against Queens Park Rangers drew City level on points with United [89], but the former were crowned the Premier League champions on accord of having a superior goal difference.

The city of Manchester was painted blue with songs of the ‘blue moon rising’ filling pubs and bars around the city center; the English title had been clinched in such spectacular fashion for the first time in nearly half a century.

At the Stadium of Light the Manchester United players appeared disconsolate and inconsolable; no one could make sense of what just happened. Following the heartbreaking encounter however, Sir Alex Ferguson swore never to lose the title in that manner again.

With years of managerial experience under his belt, the gaffer opted to move on swiftly rather than wallow in their demise.


Sir Alex’s last ride — the beginning of the end for the Red Devils

Unsure as to how to improve on the team that secured Manchester City’s first ever Premier League title, Roberto Mancini had a relatively quiet summer with no major acquisitions to his side. Their neighbors however couldn’t afford that kind of luxury, and Sir Alex Ferguson broke the bank to secure the signatures of Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell.

Van Persie’s switch to Old Trafford was quite rightly the biggest talk in town. The Dutchman had just won the golden boot and the PFA Players’ Players of the Year Award, selling him was never on the cards…at least that’s what Arsenal fans thought.

Once again, Gooners were right and Arsene Wenger was wrong.

What seemed good for business at face value turned out to be their worst nightmare as Robin van Persie single-handedly delivered the Premier League title back to Manchester United. For the most part, the Red Devils annihilated any and all opponents that stood between them and redemption, and it was no surprise when they won the title with four games to spare.

That season however proved to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last as the Scott finally took to retirement, but unlike in 2001 this time round he meant it. That, sadly, marked the beginning of the end for the Old Trafford side.


Instability and the price

Since 2013 United have had two managerial switches, with fourth place being their highest finish on the log. City may have basked in the glory of another Premier League title in 2014, but that hasn’t been the hallmark of their performances in the last two seasons.

In the just concluded 2015/16 Premier League season, two of the fiercest and most competitive clubs in England moved from champions to fourth place contenders.

And so we ask, what went wrong with the Manchester sides?


Written by Brian Humphrey

Follow Brian on Twitter @brihum

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