What a difference a year makes. It may be oft used in the world of sport. That’s the only way to describe events at Eastlands last night and they conformed to this down to a tee.
Manchester City confirmed their place among Europe’s elite with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. The nightmarish scenario that could only befit Spurs’ striker Peter Crouch was what became of…well, Peter Crouch. The England forward was the hero as his headed goal steered the good ship Hotspur into the Champions League this time last year. In just over a month’s action, he has almost single handedly seen Spurs exit that very same competition and the coup de grace came last night.
The death knell for the North London’s clubs season had been coming. Crouch’s intervention just after the half hour mark sealed it. Netting past his own ‘keeper Carlo Cudicini was all the help City needed. He may look like a pantomime villain. It doesn’t mean that the big man should take on the character though.
That shouldn’t detract from the efforts of Roberto Mancini and his management team. The Italian has done what he set out to do. Qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition was his mission and it’s been achieved. Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarek isn’t Roman Abramovich so sticking with the current boss is likely the route he will take. More pressing is the future of want-away forward Carlos Tevez.
He may be diminutive. The void that he would leave if transferred away from Manchester would be anything but although Champions League football may tempt him to stay. More interesting than that is the might that the blue side of the city now has in the transfer market. With Liverpool likely to once again flex their financial might, 2011’s summer transfer window won’t be one to miss.