Van Persie to Utd, Sir Alex retiring, Wigan winning the FA Cup, Barcelona getting hammered in the Champions League… we put together a list of 13 things nobody saw coming in the 2012/2013 season…
1. Van Persie would move to Man Utd for £24m
Although Van Persie failed to sign a new contract at Arsenal towards the end of last season, nobody could have imagined he’d end up signing on the dotted line for Man Utd. Less than a year on from his arrival at Old Trafford, he’s already picked up a league title, banged in 29 goals and won Utd’s player of the season award. Not bad…
2. Man City would crash out of Europe in group stages
Having won the Premier League last year, everyone expected Man City to make some real progress in Europe this season. That didn’t happen and the wheels came off City’s Champions league campaign in the group stages… embarrassingly finishing bottom of their group having failed to win a single match.
3. Chelsea would sack Di Matteo and replace him with Rafa Benitez
You know you’re in trouble at Chelsea when you win the Champions League in your first season… it’s all downhill from there unless you can repeat the feat. Di Matteo may have helped Chelsea spring a surprise and lift the Champions League last season but he was promptly sacked in November this season after it become apparent Chelsea weren’t going to match the heights they reached last season. His replacement? Ex-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez who was thrown head first in to an angry mob at Stamford Bridge who booh’d him on and off the pitch for months.
4. Chelsea would go on to win the Europa Cup
Having won the Champions League last season, nobody expected them to retain it – especially without the services of Didier Drogba. However, few would have predicted Chelsea, like Man City would fail to get out of the group stages this season. It was the first time in history the holders failed to make it out of the group stages. With Benitez’ arrival and confusion over his role at the club coupled with the fact Chelsea fans didn’t want him there, it looked like Chelsea were in free fall but the former Anfield legend somehow turned things around and not only secured a top 4 spot in the league, but also helped Chelsea win the Europa League. Currently, Chelsea are technically Champions League and Europe League holders.
5. Germany would lead a competitive home match 4-0 after 60 minutes yet still not win
When Germany go 4-0 up at home, they just don’t lose. If you could put your house on any international side defending a 4-0 lead at home, it would be Germany. The usual ruthlessly efficient German side seemed to be cruising in their World Cup 2014 qualifier against the Swedes back in October but Ibrahimovich & co staged one of the greatest shock comebacks of all time to nick a draw at odds of 1000/1.
6. Celtic would beat Barcelona and qualify for last 16 of Champions League
Neil Lennon’s side narrowly lost out on nicking a point against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in October conceding a last minute goal. Celtic Park has a reputation for being a European fortress and two weeks later, the two sides met again in what many people expected would be a brave but ultimately fruitless 90 minutes for the Glasgow side. The Hoops showed their determination though not to let Barcelona leave with all 3 points and ended up winning the match 2-1, with the footballing world left pinching itself. The stats do the talking… Barcelona had 89% possession, made almost 6 times as many passes as Celtic and had 23 attempts on goal…
7. Ibrahimovich would score an impossible overhead kick from 30 yards out
There’s not much that can be said about this goal that hasn’t been said already… just watch it. Also keep in mind that this is an Ibrahimovich that had already scored a hat trick against an English side that were chasing an equalizer at the time…
8. Barcelona would lose 7-0 over two legs against Munich in Semi Finals of Champions League
Although Barcelona had lost to Celtic and suffered a scare against AC Milan in the last 16 (losing 2-0 away from home in the first leg), they still went in as favorites in their Semi Final clash with Bayern Munich. Bayern thumped them 4-0 in Munich and to rub salt in to the wounds, came to the Nou Camp and beat a Messi-less Barcelona 3-0… Munich won 7-0 on aggregate. Against Barcelona. You may have to repeat that to yourself several times until it starts to sink in…
9. Suarez to bite an opponent and get 10 match ban
Suarez and controversy go together like a pig and mud. Whether it’s biting opponents, shouting abuse at opponents, refusing to shake hands or diving in the box, he’s an expert at keeping himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Still, few could have predicted he’d take a lump out of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovich. What makes it worse is that he’d been banned before for a similar biting incident at Ajax. No doubt the Suarez soap opera will be back next season but we’ll have to wait a while to see him on the pitch again as his 10 match ban carries over to the 2013/2014 season.
10. Sir Alex Ferguson would resign
To a lot of Man Utd fans, they’ve never known anything other than a Ferguson-led Man Utd. The idea that Sir Alex would retire at the end of the season would have been laughable at the start of the 2012/2013 campaign. Like John Giles, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy, these guys don’t retire… they’re immortal. They’ll still be on our screens in 50 years time, talking about the good old days of seeing Messi & Ronaldo in the flesh and how modern day pups are pub players in comparison to those greats. Sir Alex is of the same breed and it was expected he’d retire at some stage, just not now. ‘Some stage’ of course meant ‘never’ to most Utd fans and the shock of seeing him confirm his retirement probably still hasn’t hit the footballing world.
11. Mancini would be sacked
This time last year, Mancini was on top of the world, having won the Premier League for the first time in City’s history in the most dramatic fashion. Many thought it signaled the dawn of a new era and the shift of power from the red half of Manchester to the blue half. A year on and Man Utd have taken City’s crown off them, Sir Alex retires as a league Champion and Mancini is sacked having finished the season trophy-less with City.
12. Rooney would hand in another transfer request
3 years ago, Rooney handed in a transfer request having sat on the bench for a few matches due to what Ferguson called an ‘ankle injury’. Rooney denied he was injured and his career at Utd seemed to be in tatters. It’s not too often a player crosses Sir Alex’s path and gets away with it but Sir Alex confirmed for a second time that Rooney approach him several weeks ago looking for a move away. It’s no coincidence that Rooney hasn’t played a full 90 minutes since. Little did Rooney know at the time, but the manager himself would be moving on and leaving David Moyes in charge to determine Rooney’s destiny at Utd…
13. Wigan would win the FA Cup & get relegated in the same week
In its 132 year history, never has a club won the FA Cup and been relegated in the same season. That is until Wigan won it this season (at odds of 200/1). A few days later, they were relegated from the Premier League.