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Why it feels like no one won the Premier League title

OPINION: In a one-sided contest, we all knew which team was going to be the champions as early as the autumn

19 April, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

IT was fitting that the dullest title “race” of recent memory came to its unexciting conclusion with the winning team becoming champions due to another team losing tepidly.

Even Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola was apparently on the golf course at the buzzless moment his team officially became the victors of this season’s Premier League.

Captain Vincent Kompany did his best to inject some passion into the celebrations, to make us think the party was wild and lit. But for all his roaring away in the pub, and banging on about how happy everybody was, he bore an expression which sort of begged, slightly desperately, for somebody to put the scene on social media.

In truth, he, like everybody else who had the misfortune to follow this one-sided contest, had known which team was going to be the champions since the autumn. There was no moment of ecstatic relief for the players or fans. I put it to Mr Kompany, then, that he was trying too hard. As was City’s communications team who achingly tried to make us notice that it had all been confirmed, that they were now officially champions, by taking out adverts to say it.

They even bought promotions on the websites of local newspapers in London, presumably hoping that somebody would care, somewhere.

But nobody was talking about it over the office kettle on Monday, nobody wanted to read the turgid double-page spreads about the mastery of Guardiola, some by the same writers who had mocked him for surrendering the Champions League to Liverpool.

The canter with which the team who spent the most money has won this season’s competition has made us all numb. It feels like nobody has won it. And when nobody seems to notice, suddenly winning doesn’t seem so fun.

Apart from the Invincibles season, Arsenal’s league titles were always about just pipping Liverpool or Manchester United. There was a rush and rivalry to it. With Man City it feels so artificial, that somehow the team are pretending what they have achieved is grander than it is, given the unrivalled resources they possess.

As anybody who tried to watch Sampras-era Wimbledon or most Tour de France races, there’s no joy in watching a sport where the winner is known almost from the start.

That’s why this weekend’s football is far more intriguing than City’s story: straight knockout FA Cup semi-finals between teams clutching on to their last chance of silverware. Even as a supporter of a club not involved, I’d take such occasions over Kompany’s fake blues.

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