There have been numerous themes running through City’s season – the late goals, Teemu scoring, Christoph and Ben being heroic, Stiepi’s weird goal celebrations etc – but one of the most bizarre has been how at almost every turn there’s been folk telling us how undeserving we’ve been of our success.
Leeds fans, in particular, are convinced our automatic promotion has been more to do with good fortune and an EFL conspiracy than, heaven forbid, us actually being a good side.
It was, therefore, appropriate that our final day win at Villa Park to win the title again had little to do with us being a good side. Oh no…
In case you’re wondering, it was in part due to City’s players not partying as hard as Sheffield Utd’s players – not being “real men” they were hangover-free – and also because Villa had chosen to rest Jack Grealish and Joe McGinn ahead of the playoffs. And I’m sure if we look hard enough there’ll still be a Leeds-related final day conspiracy out there somewhere.
But back in the real world, City won the league because they were the best team, scored the most goals, had the most wins, had the fewest defeats and had up front the league’s leading goalscorer. Do the maths.
They called us tinpot, called us fragile, said our bubble would burst, said our defence wasn’t good enough, said that it can’t be done on a shoestring and basically didn’t believe in us because we were everything Frank Lampard’s Derby were not.
We didn’t go raiding the under-23 squads of the big six for some names that Sky Sports’ finest could salivate over, we didn’t bring in any ex-England internationals to help see us over the line and we certainly don’t need any footballing royalty in our technical area who’d guarantee us blanket coverage even when we were just little more than average.
As it transpired, I don’t think Ashley Cole did too much to help Frank’s boys over the line and in any case, the line they ended up crawling over was the one between sixth and seventh. I don’t know about you, but I find the one between second and third rather more appealing.
And as that transpired, we didn’t crawl over it a la Frank, we smashed it by eleven whole points… the equivalent of three wins and two draws. What on earth were we stressing over? Although you do have to feel for Leeds when Ipswich were today evidently able to field their legendary side of 1981 with Muhren, Thijssen et al.
I can think of no other reason.
This morning I received a message from a Sheffield Wednesday fan:
Congrats on a great season mate. Go and lift that trophy today! Whatever you do, dont let that t*t Wilder get his hands on it.
Job done – although I have to confess until he planted that picture of a beaming, gurning, champagne-swigging Chris Wilder in my head I hadn’t really focused too much on winning the title, seeing it more of a bonus than a must-have. But that would have been horrible, wouldn’t it?
And I needn’t have worried anyway, because our team of mineral water drinkers were determined to see the job through and in the end produced a performance as good as any we’ve seen throughout this nerve-jangling run-in.
As always, there were heroes all over the pitch but, equally, it was no surprise that Messrs Pukki and Vrancic were those to get on the scoresheet – both have been exceptional in front of goal as the season reached crunch time.
So, when the players appear on the balcony of City Hall tomorrow, it will be with a trophy – and don’t they deserve it.
Not since I made my first trip to Carrow Road – when the Main Stand was made of wood, the River End had no roof and there was standing on three sides of the ground – have I seen a City team that plays such beautiful football. Neither have I seen a City side that’s so comfortable in its own skin.
It’s been an absolute pleasure and feels like a weird payback for watching a not inconsiderable amount of dross, nil-nils, games that were laboured and mind-numbing, not to mention the numerous occasions when we’ve slinked off home with the heart broken – which is, in fact, the staple of most football fans who steer clear of the glory hunting path.
From the 1-0 home win over Boro in mid-September onwards, it’s been nothing but undiluted joy interjected with a few, very few, minor blips and even in the few down times there were always positives to cling to; not least the fact we have Daniel Farke in the dugout and Stuart Webber in the boardroom.
It’s been a season that will live forever in the memory, and not just for the winning. It’s been a season where players have reconnected with fans and where Carrow Road has returned to being a fun place to be.
There are smiles on faces, we’re bursting full of hope and, in a footballing sense, life has rarely been this good.
They are champions but they are so much more than that. They’re giants – every single one of them – and they’ve created something that will not just go down in Canary folklore, but in footballing folklore.
As fans, how lucky are we!