A huge roar erupted in the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as the final Premier League table was displayed on the giant screens with Manchester City on top and Manchester United’s name highlighted in seventh place.
City’s 2-0 win over West Ham secured the title on the final day of the season and, although the triumph lacked the drama of their last-gasp ambush of United two years ago, there was no less joy in the air.
Captain Vincent Kompany lifted the trophy aloft before the players gave manager Manuel Pellegrini the bumps and danced on the pitch as the fans partied unreservedly, fireworks exploded and blue and white tickertape filled the air.
Fifteen years after climbing out of the third tier of English soccer and six after Sheikh Mansour started ploughing his vast wealth into the club, City won the title for the second time in three seasons and the fourth occasion overall after their 1937 and 1968 successes.
While United, who dominated English soccer for so long under Alex Ferguson, seek a new manager and ponder a season without European football for the first time in more than two decades, the club dismissed as “noisy neighbours” by Ferguson are now indisputably top dogs in Manchester.
“This club has a real soul and a heart to it,” Kompany told Sky Sports as he clutched the trophy decked in light blue and white ribbons.
“The way we finished this season is a credit to everyone. I am extremely happy.
“Forget about the money, forget about everything. As a kid when you are growing up, all you dream about is winning games and winning trophies. I dreamt of winning trophies and I feel like I am achieving that dream when I am doing this.
“We are building a club not just a team. The past is the past and we are building for our place in the future. So I feel we need to be better, next year we need to be even better.”
As long as City avoided defeat on Sunday the title was theirs no matter what Liverpool did against Newcastle United at Anfield 30 miles away.
A 39th-minute goal from Sami Nasri and a close-range effort from Kompany were enough for City to finish the season with a fifth successive win, 102 goals and 86 points.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Nasri said. “My second title in three years. It was an amazing league the whole year.
“There are no words to explain the feeling now. Maybe in an hour or two we will feel it. I’m so happy for the manager too because it’s his first title in England.
“He remained calm all season for us to play attractive football and it was a pleasure to work with him. The Liverpool game against Chelsea, I think that was the twist of the season.”
That 2-0 loss to Chelsea two weeks ago ended Liverpool’s 11-match winning run and handed the title initiative back to City who had games in hand.
The 60-year-old Pellegrini, noted for his unflappable personality, pounced on the opportunity to become the first non-European manager to win the English League title.
“It’s a very special time,” he said. “My first year is not easy to get used to English football but I think I managed a great group of players. I must be calm during the game because I need to make decisions but we’ve had a lot of difficult moments during the year.
“It was a very special because we’ve never been at the top of the table but six games away I told my players we needed to change and they believed in me.
“But big teams cannot be satisfied with one title. It’s very important. Celebrate, today, tomorrow and Monday and on Tuesday start working for next season because this club and players deserve more titles.”
Clearly City want to do things differently to other clubs.
The captains of their junior teams brought the trophy to the podium and were invited on to it by Kompany for the presentation.
As the players were leaving the pitch, Spanish midfielder David Silva was mobbed by players from one of the youth teams who showered him in hugs.
Silva, not much taller than some of the juniors himself, hugged everybody back to wild applause from the fans who had made their voices heard throughout another glorious afternoon at the Etihad.
As City’s title success grew increasingly certain, they stopped singing their own “Blue Moon” anthem and moved on to Liverpool’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” but with the words changed to “You’ll never win the league”.
The jibe may or may not have had a ring of truth to it but the fact City held their nerve when Liverpool lost theirs in sight of their first title since 1990 spoke volumes about the two clubs.