Why the title race is far from over
It’s been done before
Manchester United’s 4-1 defeat away at Spurs in January 1996 left them with a seemingly insurmountable challenge of clawing back 12 points on high-flying Newcastle. The title was done and dusted and everybody’s favourite second team were champs.
Granted a spectacular implosion followed and it’s extremely hard to imagine Costa and co. similarly pressing the self-destruct button but let’s not succumb to easy cliché here and focus on Keegan’s famous Sky rant to pinpoint where it all unravelled: that Newcastle side was bolstered by the likes of Batty and Lee with Big Les Ferdinand up front, mentally strong individuals to a man. It should not be under-estimated what complacency and pressure can do to any side.
A season later United had a taste of their own medicine boasting an eleven point lead over Arsenal in March. March! Some bookies even paid out early, leaving them red-faced and out of pocket when the Gunners launched a late dramatic revival to claim the trophy.
Even the most famous climax to a season resulted from a relinquishing of an imposing lead. Yes, Manchester City won the title in 2011/12 but it required a world-wobbling Aguero strike to clinch it after being eight points clear that spring.