Did Manchester City throw their final game?

Players jeopardise European spot, integrity in the north east

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Amid all the Manchester Utd celebrations, Birmingham rioting, John Terry arms and Paul Jewell bitching, Man City’s suspicious loss at the Riverside has been flying a under the radar. At the time of writing, Sven-Goran Eriksson is still waiting to receive his £5m pay-off hear of his future at Manchester City, and is uncertain if he will be joining his side on their impending Eastern tour.

It’s no secret that the players are unhappy about the Swede’s looming P45, and accusing a side of throwing a game is a very strong charge, but is it possible that they engineered this highly unlikely end to the season? Consider the following:

* Previously, Middlesbrough hadn’t scored more than two goals in a game all season.

* This is only the fourth occasion in Premier League history when a team has scored eight or more in a game – the others being Newcastle/ Sheffield Wednesday (8-0; 99/00), Manchester United/ Nottingham Forest (8-1; 98/99) and Manchester Utd/ Ipswich (9-0; 94/95).

* On each of those occasions the team that won were higher in the league table.

* Sven Goran Eriksson’s side hadn’t lost three straight league games all season previously.

* Manchester City’s record defeat was a 1-9 defeat to Everton way back in 1906 and this was Middlesbrough’s record top-flight win.

* City started the day with a clear lead in the Fair Play League which would see them qualify for Europe and yet received their first red card of 2008.

* Richard Dunne had also gone 15 games without a booking, a very long time for a centre-back, before yesterday’s red, which was only his second in just under four years.

Tomorrow, the Premier League bigwigs will meet to decide the Fair Play representatives in the UEFA cup – a decision that would have been much more straight forward without Dunne’s sending off and Jihai’s booking.

So was this whole debacle the simply the result of Middlesbrough’s awesome firing power, or rather the players’ attempt to send a poignant message upstairs?

Comments below, please.

Did Manchester City throw their final game?
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