By Teng Kiat
5-5. That was the most eye-catching scoreline on the final day of the 2012/13 English Premier League season, where West Bromwich Albion staged a stirring comeback, aided by some terrible defending and goalkeeping, to hold champions Manchester United.
It was, quite frankly, a mental game at the Hawthorns, and Sir Alex Ferguson must not have been pleased to end his remarkable 26-year reign without victory. But at least the great Scot bowed out with breaking yet another record; it was the first 5-5 draw in the league’s history.
Departure seemed to be the theme of the day as the season concluded, and that is perhaps how this particular edition will be remembered in years to come.
United stalwart Paul Scholes followed his manager out of professional football, while the likes of Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville, Michael Owen and Stiliyan Petrov all concluded their playing careers as well, the latter forced by illness.
With the Red Devils sealing the league title almost a month ago, and the relegation places already decided in the previous round (goodbye Wigan, Reading and QPR), the only thing left to play for was the two remaining Champions League spots behind deposed champions Manchester City.
This season also saw the rise to superstardom of Gareth Bale, but the flying Welshman failed to lead Tottenham into Europe’s elite club competition despite striking a wonderful winning goal to cap off a sterling campaign.
It was their London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea who booked their places after both registering victories, with the latter’s interim manager Rafael Benitez departing somewhat on a high after winning the Europa League to add to qualification.
Roberto Mancini was sacked for finishing second - a decision criticized by Sir Alex - a mere year on from winning Manchester City’s first Premier League title, while Everton’s David Moyes will exit Goodison Park to take on the mammoth challenge of replacing Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Apart from the high-profile names mentioned above, we also witnessed the rise of some unknown players, as the likes of Michu, Rickie Lambert and Christian Bentenke rose from obscurity to make their mark at their respective clubs and on the supporters’ memories. They might or might not remain at their teams next season, but they look set to carry on shining regardless.
Elsewhere, Frank Lampard was busy scoring from midfield to become Chelsea’s all-time top scorer despite news from earlier in the season that the club would let him go at the end; the Blues have since offered him a contract extension, and the only surprise was that they even considered allowing him to leave.
Luis Suarez stole headlines with his diving antics and more memorably for deciding to munch on Branislav Ivanovic’s arm during a Liverpool-Chelsea match. The Uruguay striker bit off more than he could chew after being slapped with a 10-game ban, effectively ending the season of one of Pool’s leading lights.
One of the moments that will be etched in everyone’s minds will be that of an ecstatic Paulo di Canio celebrating like a madman as he led Sunderland to victory against Newcastle in his first Tyne-Wear derby. Ditto Robin van Persie’s stunning first-time volley that secured his new club’s record 20th title, Arsenal spanking Newcastle 7-3 at home, Matt Lowton’s cracking volley for Aston Villa at Stoke, Julio Cesar declaring that he wanted to win the Premier League upon his arrival at QPR… there is a season-defining image for each and every one of those who have watched this season pan out.
The Premier League is a league like no other and I suspect many of you, like me, are already looking ahead to the next season – another campaign that will no doubt bring us yet more spills and thrills.