Bolton 0-2 Man City: Lescott and Dzeko seal third
Published 17:08 22/05/11 By David Anderson
What a difference three years – and £350million – make.
On the final day in 2008, Manchester City were walloped 8-1 at Middlesbrough as their disillusioned players effectively downed tools in support of condemned man Sven Goran Eriksson.
The club was in revolt with Richard Dunne ready to lead a boycott of the club’s end-of-season tour to Thailand because the players were so angry at former owner Thaksin Shinawatra’s shoddy treatment of Eriksson.
Three months later with the club on the brink of administration, Sheikh Mansour breezed into Eastlands, handed City the keys to his vast fortune and the rest is history.
It’s easy to forget how far City have come in such a short space of time and boss Roberto Mancini deserves great credit in taking a team who finished 10th two seasons ago to third, second to Chelsea only on goal difference, and FA Cup glory.
Of course the money helps, but as David O’Leary and Claudio Ranieri have proved, turning dosh into silverware isn’t as straight-forward as everyone thinks.
Apart from Carlo Ancelotti, no other manager has had to operate under the intense pressure he has this season and he was worthy of his ovation from City’s fans at the final whistle.
Mancini has also had to work with the most egotistical squad in the Premier League, between dealing with Mario Balotelli’s madcap antics and Carlos Tevez’s ‘should I stay or should I go’ saga.
This could yet be Tevez’s final appearance in a City shirt, despite Mancini’s insistence he is staying, and it was a low-key effort. He hit a shot, which cannoned off Zat Knight, and saw another effort saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen before he seemed to lose interest in the second half.
Still, he shares the Premier League’s Golden Boot with Dimitar Berbatov for his 20 goals, while Joe Hart collects the Golden Glove for 18 clean sheets.
For Bolton, there were no baubles and they will be gutted at finishing such a promising season in 14th on the back of their fifth straight defeat.
City should have taken the lead when Dedryck Boyata crowned a lovely flowing attack by crossing for Gareth Barry to head against the underside of the bar and Yaya Toure missed from the follow-up.
Adam Johnson blazed over when set up by the mercurial David Silva, who shot over after Jaaskelainen had saved in quick succession from Kolo Toure and Tevez.
For all of City’s pressure, their opener two minutes before the break was a fluke as Vincent Kompany seemed to duck as he went for Johnson’s corner, allowing the ball to cannon off Joleon Lescott’s head and loop into the Bolton goal.
Daniel Sturridge made half a yard of space for himself in the box before shooting wide in Wanderers’ best chance.
Instead City got a second as Edin Dzeko scored on 62 minutes, within 90 seconds of replacing Johnson, to confirm their best league finish since 1977.
Gary Cahill could only deflect Barry’s cross on to him and the Bosnian stroked home only his second league goal for the Blues.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of Bolton’s agony and Sturridge will be suspended for Chelsea’s first three games of next season after he lunged at Dzeko, catching him just below the knee to earn a red card.