Manchester City and the agony of victory
How does it feel? Really? Like someone’s stepped forward, smiling, then plunged their hand into your guts and scooped out your innards. It’s the day after losing the Premier League title to Manchester City, and I’m still in my pyjamas. It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m still in my pyjamas. That’s partly because I’m a freelancer, and my laptop has quietly been burning a hole through my duvet since the early hours of this morning, but I must blame my stunned immobility at least partly on what happened yesterday.
Manchester City did to Manchester United what Manchester United have been doing to the world for years. They appeared vanquished, and, just when they seemed that they would not prevail, they did so in breathless, glorious fashion.
Watching Sergio Aguero tear through the QPR defence so, so deep into injury time, I recognised in his stride the same inevitability that I have seen at Old Trafford for decades.
I wasn’t even going to watch the game. I had already quietly mourned the loss of the title, and had resorted to watching the inevitable thrashing of QPR on Twitter. When the game entered the final ten minutes, with City losing 2-1 and United winning 1-0, I decided that I should probably head to the pub. I ordered a pint of ale, but by the final whistle it tasted like bitter. As is my time-honoured tradition whenever Manchester United miss out on an honour, I refuse to read post-match analysis or watch highlights of the offending games.
I must send the heartiest of congratulations to Manchester City, though. They have played some exceptional stuff this season. Most of all, they have learned what Sir Alex Ferguson has taught his players for a quarter of a century; they have learned the taste of “the agony of victory”. They now understand that, in a sport as competitive as this, the exertions needed for success cause almost as much pain as a last-minute defeat. They have felt the gut-rummaging anxiety of true champions; and, as they and their fans now know, it is the most beautiful neurosis to have.Tagged in: Manchester City, manchester united, roberto mancini, sergio aguero, sir alex ferguson
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