Carlos Tevez golf heroics prove Pep Guardiola is right not to believe Jurgen Klopp’s title claim – Dominic Farrell

Title race done? For a few weeks now, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been having absolutely none of that talk.

“Just I don’t believe him,” a grinning Guardiola replied on Friday when Jurgen Klopp’s assertion that he was “not sure” whether Liverpool could challenge City from a position of nine points behind with a game in hand.

“Absolutely [it’s possible] and he thinks the same, otherwise he wouldn’t be the competitor that he is. Of course he believes.

“In football, everything can happen. He knows that he has to win a lot of games like we know we have to win a lot of games to fight to be champion again.”

City’s Saturday engagement in the Premier League underlines Guardiola’s point.

They will take on Norwich City and return to a venue where, 10 years ago, they completely changed the mood music around a titanic title battle.

We all know the well-worn story of the 2011/12 race for Premier League glory by now. On Easter Sunday, a listless City lost 1-0 at Arsenal to fall eight points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United with six games to play.

From that point they hauled their rivals in and Sergio Aguero did his thing at death.

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When you study the flawless final stretch put together by Roberto Mancini’s team, certain moments stand out. The final day mayhem is in a category of its own, but beating United in a suffocating high-stakes Manchester derby before holding their nerve to see off Champions League-chasing Newcastle showed City had the steely constitution of champions.

That looked to be anything other than the case when they shambled through spring and even the 4-0 win over West Brom in the midweek after losing to Arsenal felt a little futile until news reached the Etihad Stadium that United had lost at Wigan Athletic to leave the door ajar.

This is exactly what Guardiola’s City must not do, because then matches like Norwich v City in April 2012 can happen and everything takes on an uncontrollable momentum.

Mancini’s men still only had an outside chance – he famously spent this chunk of the run-in saying the title was “finished” – but a swagger returned in the stands and on the pitch at Carrow Road.

Manchester City's Argentinian strikers Carlos Tevez (R) and Sergio Aguero (L), scorers of five of their team's six goals, embrace at the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Norwich City and Manchester City at Carrow Road stadium in Norwich, England on April 14, 2012.
Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero took Norwich City to pieces to further cut into Manchester United’s advantage.

In the away end, “MCFC OK!” boomed out frequently – City’s hilarious anthem to incompetence and drunkenness that became a staple in a very different era. The attitude was clear: coming second to United? Worse things have happened.

The mood among supporters went up and up because City were effervescent, they were irresistible. the goals they scored.

Tevez, who of course went AWOL after a bust-up with Mancini and scored on his first start since September against West Brom, got things under way with a venomous shot from out on the right wing that swerved, ducked and dived past a baffled John Rudy.

Mocking just about everyone else involved, the bustling Argentine netted his second and third goals at the end of the ground where the traveling fans were stationed. His golf-swing celebration of him showed those hours on the course back home when he should have been on the training field had not been time entirely wasted.

LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Footballer Carlos Tevez of Manchester City and Argentina is guest caddy for Andres Romero of Argentina during the final round of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club on July 22, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England.
Carlos Tevez was guest caddy for Andres Romero during the final round of the 141st Open Championship, a few months after his Norwich heroics.

If the day belonged to Tevez, his compatriot Aguero was simply sublime. Both of his goals from him were utterly ridiculous.

His first saw him one-two his way through the Norwich half with Tevez and concluded when Sergio lashed a bouncing backheel lay-off into the top corner from outside the box.

Amid a crazy closing spell, where City scored four times in the final 20 minutes of play, Aguero’s second was the sort of goal the best kid in the playground tends to produce – a solo dribble that concluded with him lifting then ball across Ruddy into the far corner while surrounded by five defenders.

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On the face of it, that raucous win changed very little. United beat Aston Villa 4-0 the next day and it was “as you were” at the top. It was only the next weekend when Ferguson’s men sensationally collapsed in a 4-4 draw with Everton that everything was truly back on the table.

But City’s belief returned to Norwich, fans and players – even the previously stayaway Tevez – felt as one and it ended up carrying them to a historic success.

Games like that are the precise reason Guardiola remains wary of Klopp and Liverpool. You do not want to give a hungry rival even the faintest sniff, because strange and wonderful things can happen if you do.

What are some of your favorite memories of the 2012 run-in? Follow City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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