Barclays Premier League Final Day 2011/12
Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United

The Manchester United players look on with anguish as they see the title snatched away from them after their game had finished 



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from the Stadium of Light

Manchester United were pipped to the Premier League title despite comfortably beating Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, as they suffered the horror of learning of neighbour's City's two late goals in their 3-2 win over QPR.

United were rarely troubled and how they won by a slender one goal only they will know. Sunderland were toothless, slow and cagey whilst United played really well, doing what they had to do - win - in confident, efficent style.

With the home side knowing that only tenth place was catchable, they made four changes to the side beaten 2-1 at Fulham the week before, and included three Manchester United graduates: O' Shea, Bardsley and Campbell, although Wes Brown was unable to play having been ruled out for the rest of the season, after he scored an own goal at Old Trafford in November.  

In came Mignolet back into goal, Bramble into defence - starting for the first time since Boxing Day- Jack Colback came into midfield and Campbell up front. 

United meanwhile, went 4-5-1, and played the team that would have been ideal in their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the end if April; Giggs replaced Hernanez and Evans returned at the back in place of fellow defender Chris Smalling who was ruled out through injury.



Manchester United's haul of 89 points was the most ever by a Premier League runner-up.

United were made to work hard to stay in the game inside the first ten minutes as De Gea twice had to save from both McClean and Vaughan - whose 25 yard shot had him stretching. But as soon as United got the ball down and started to play, Sunderland dropped deep and invited pressure onto them. 

United took the lead thanks to another strike by Wayne Rooney - his 30th goal of the season. Phil Jones was given far too much time on the right to whip in a deep cross that the former Everton man nodded in at the back post. 

Campbell was now on the right hand side of midfield and was lucky that referee Howard Webb didn't show a straight red card when he clattered into Evra; many people have seen red for better tackles this season. 

Ryan Giggs was finding far too much space in between the defence and midfield, allowing him to determine the pace and direction of the game and his shot was beaten away by Sunderland's Belgian keeper on 27 minutes. 

A minute later, a clumsy tackle by Bramble gave the visitors a free kick right on the edge of the area. Up stepped Rooney... and he was so, so unlucky to see it bounce of the bar and away to safety with Mignolet only a spectator. Maybe it was just a little too close in from the goal. 

Nevertheless, it didn't bother him as wave upon wave of United forays flew towards the Black Cats' goal, as they struggled to hang on. Bardsley was cautioned for a foul as United looked increasingly strong. 

Had that free kick gone in, then Rooney could have been celebrating a hat trick on 34 minutes: Valencia danced past O' Shea - who left the field soon after and could be a doubt for the Euros - and found Young in acres of space. Yet, he scuffed his shot, but saw it fall for Rooney to tap home. No, he managed to only deflect it wide, and Sunderland survived again. What a let off. Would it be costly?

It very nearly was! Sessegnon found Campbell in the box - onside, just, an excellent decision by the linesman - but he rushed it and it flew wide. And with it went Sunderland's hopes of salvaging any points. 

The Black Cats had won none of their previous six games as their season was petering out, and United with the best away record, were really finding some form. They were passing with purpose, gile, belief, that they could snatch the title, although by this time City had taken the lead through Pablo Zabaleta. 

The second half began in the same purpose: United on the attack, Sunderland on the defensive. As news diffused through of Cisse's goal at City many United fans dared to dream. 

By now United could have been out of sight as Rooney was denied by Mignolet just moments into the second period. A lovely one-two between Young and Giggs found the former who slipped in Rooney but Mignolet spread himself as the ball cannoned off his body and away to safety. Another chance came this time for Jones but his header from Ashley Young's free kick dropped wide. 

After a booking for Ryan Giggs the ball was ricocheted towards Bardsley who hit a stinging drive that Evans did well to bravely block, whilst at the other end Young's shot was excellently blocked by Gardner, now playing at right back after the double substitution of captain O'Shea and Bardsley.
United now in cruise control, especially now learning (the United fans anyway) that City had fallen behind to ten-man QPR, so all United needed was that killer second goal which would have secured all three points. 


Wayne Rooney had his most prolific season in the Premier League with 27 goals, beating his record haul of 2009/10. 

And they nearly got it, but for the second time in the match, the woodwork was struck: Paul Scholes's 20 yard volley smashed the post and Mignolet did brilliantly to get up and superbly deny the follow-up from Giggs. 

As stoppage time drew to a close United were still Champions and finally Howard Webb's whistle blew, after three minutes, sending 2800 United fans wild. But no-one knew the outcome; or the drama that was to follow; or the heartbreak and delirium just around the corner, as five minutes of stoppage time was being played in Manchester. 

Sir Alex clapped his hands and as United players were about to go over to their section of fans, news came in of an equaliser from Dzeko. With United in limbo, who could have predicted what happened next?

With Stoke holding Bolton 2-2, that meant the Trotters were relegated, but in the fourth minute of time added on, up popped Sergio Aguero to smash home and snatch the title from United's grasp. All of a sudden, there was a roar of cheers from the Sunderland end, followed by a Poznan, as United fans confirmed the worst. Fans were shocked; players were flabbagasted, stunned, stood in a muted silence as City stole the inevitable. 

That didn't stop United fans, players and staff supporting and cheering with each other at a solemn end, because they know that City just about edged it overall. They know that at key times, City have just had that little bit extra quality; that little extra luck. 

They know that if they had not had sustained the amount of injuries they did, they would have won the league by a comfortable margin. They know the difference between the sides was... goal difference. Eight goals. What a miss Vidic has been?

They know that City are really there now; that the blue moon is rising slowly into the Manchester skyline; that the first title is always hardest to win, and City have now done that, they have had the players. Vidic wouldn't have let that happen.

They know that two results have cost them: that horrible afternoon when their neighbours hit them for six, and that dreadful defending that cost them victory against Everton. Vidic wouldn't have allweed that. 

They know what a fantastic group of players they have; a wonderful team spirit; impeccable quality, and irreplaceable history. They know they can't compete with City's wealth. But they also know that they have a great team too. Two or three outstanding signings to bolster the squad, plus of course the return of their defensive rock, their leader, their irreplaceable leader, their captain, they know that United can challenge City, they can win back the title that has been lost, they can keep up the challenge, they can still be top dogs. 

Because United fans know: they are still England's top club; England's most successful club. Up there as one of Europe's elite, one of the world's best - ever. And one title for City isn't going to change that. 



Sunday 13th May 2012

Barclays Premier League

The Stadium of Light


Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United                             KO 3pm               (HT 0-1)

                                    Rooney 20


Sunderland:  22. Mignolet- 8.5/10, 02. Bardsley- 5/10 (Bridge 60- 3.5/10), 04. Turner- 6/10, 19. Bramble- 4.5/10, 22. O' Shea (C)- 4/10 (El Mohammady 43- 2/10), 08. Gardner- 5/10, 14. Colback- 6/10, 15. Vaughan- 6.5/10 (Wickham 74- 3/10), 23. McClean- 6/10, 28. Sessengon- 5/10, 09. Campbell- 5/10.

Subs not used:  20. Westwood, 25. Kyrgiakos, 18. Meyler, 17. Ji.

Booked:      Campbell (23), Bardsley (30), Turner (66)


Manchester United:
  01. De Gea- 6/10, 04. Jones- 7/10, 06. Evans- 7/10, 05. Ferdinand- 7/10, 03. Evra (C)- 6.5/10, 25. Valencia- 7.5/10, 16. Carrick- 8/10, 22. Scholes- 8.5/10, 11. Giggs- 9/10, 18. Young- 8/10  (Nani 82- 2/10), 10. Rooney- 9.5/10 
(Saha 77- 2.5/10)

Subs not used:  40. Amos, 21. Rafael, 13. Park, 07. Owen, 09. Berbatov, 14. Hernandez

Booked:      Jones (37), Giggs (56), Scholes (71)


My Man of the Match:      Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)- Rating 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:      John O' Shea (Sunderland)- Rating 4/10



Referee: Howard Webb MBE (South Yorkshire)- 7/10
Attendance: 46,452



Match Facts

Possession: Sunderland- 44%              Manchester United- 56%

Shots: Sunderland- 6             Manchester United- 15

Shots on target: Sunderland- 5             Manchester United- 9

Shots off target: Sunderland- 1             Manchester United- 6 

Corners: Sunderland- 1             Manchester United- 9

Fouls: Sunderland- 14            Manchester United- 11

Offside: Sunderland- 0             Manchester United- 0

Assists: Sunderland- None          Manchester United- Jones



Martin O' Neill-  Sunderland Manager

"As an onlooker [to the title finale] it was surreal especially with the news coming through with... ten minutes to go, it was looking good for Manchester United. From my point of view we were obviously trying to look for an equaliser in the game, so as an onlooker it was very hard to take in."

Click here to hear the full thoughts of the Sunderland boss


Sir Alex Ferguson-  Manchester United Manager

"On behalf of Manchester United may I congratulate Manchester City on winning the Premier League. It's not an easy league to win and anyone who does win it deserves huge credit because it's a long haul. They [City] can go on as much as they like. That's what you would expect, but the history of our clubs stands aside. We don't need to worry about that"

Click here to hear the full interview with the gracious Manchester United boss

Click here to hear what defender Rio Ferdinand had to say


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