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Skysports.com looks back at a spellbinding 2010/11 season and picks out ten highlights
The club season has come to an end and players will be jetting off to various exotic locations around the globe to enjoy a well-earned break.
It takes highs and lows to make great drama and for some the 2010/11 campaign will be one to forget, but for others it has been historic.
There have been many magical moments to savour and skysports.com here counts down the top ten.
Record title for United
Manchester United overhauled Liverpool as the most successful club in England when they secured a 19th league crown earlier this month courtesy of a 1-1 draw at Blackburn. The title had effectively been won a week earlier following a 2-1 victory over biggest rivals Chelsea, but the result at Ewood Park was still one to cherish for the Red Devils faithful at the end of a glorious Premier League campaign. Sir Alex Ferguson's men had not been considered as strong as in previous seasons when the relative merits of the leading clubs were assessed back in August, but they defied the critics to emerge comfortably on top, finishing nine points clear.
Manchester United may have dominated domestically but the European honours went to Barcelona, who strengthened their case for being named one of the greatest teams ever with an exhilarating performance in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley. Pep Guardiola's side had already shown what they were capable of producing en route to the Wembley showpiece, but their dazzling display of attacking football against United was still something to behold. Controlling possession with mesmeric passing in midfield, Barca still had a cutting edge up front as Lionel Messi, Pedro and David Villa scored to seal a 3-1 triumph that even the most ardent of United supporters would have to accept was thoroughly deserved.
City end drought
Manchester City have been an up-and-coming force for a few years now and their big breakthrough arrived this season with a notable double achievement. As well as finishing third in the Premier League to qualify for the Champions League, Roberto Mancini's men ended a 35-year trophy drought with FA Cup glory at Wembley. Stoke had hoped to cap a fairytale run in the competition with victory but City were just too strong on the day and Yaya Toure's strike sparked wild celebrations. Manchester United had been beaten in the semi-finals and the knowledge that a banner mocking City's lack of success would be torn down at Old Trafford was no doubt equally satisfying.
Birmingham stun Gunners
One of the shocks of the season came in the Carling Cup final as Birmingham claimed the first major piece of silverware up for grabs. Arsene Wenger's youth policy was largely abandoned as he selected stronger sides than in previous years in a bid to finally land Arsenal a trophy. It looked like working as the Gunners made it through to Wembley and began as firm favourites against the Blues, but Alex McLeish's side showed great spirit to win 2-1 as Obafemi Martins capitalised on a calamitous defensive mix-up between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny to score the winning goal after Nikola Zigic'a opener had been cancelled out by Robin van Persie.
Birmingham may have been going crazy with joy in February but by May the emotion they were feeling was utter despair, after suffering relegation on a dramatic final day. The scrap for survival had been engrossing all season and it all came down to those last few minutes, when the scenario changed with virtually every goal involving the five teams still in the mix. As well as Birmingham, who went down following a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham, Blackpool were also consigned to the drop after a typically entertaining 4-2 loss at Manchester United. Wolves almost threw away their top-flight status but battled back for a 3-2 reverse against Blackburn, which was crucial for their goal difference, while Wigan overcame Stoke 1-0 to stay afloat.
King Kenny returns
Liverpool endured a dismal first half to the season as Roy Hodgson's arrival as manager failed to have the desired effect and uncertainty over the club's ownership continued. New England Sports Ventures, which later became the Fenway Sports Group, seized control in October and made their first big change after the turn of the year by removing Hodgson and appointing Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish in his place. There was an instant feel-good factor around the club and that was transmitted to the players, who found form during the next few months to raise hopes that a return to the glory days could be just around the corner. A permanent deal was eventually thrashed out for Dalglish just before the end of the campaign, with the Reds finishing a respectable sixth in the Premier League.
Rooney transfer request
One of the most jaw-dropping moments of the year came in October when Wayne Rooney suddenly announced that he wanted to leave Manchester United. The striker's reasons was equally astonishing as he apparently doubted the club's ambition, stating that he had not been given the 'assurances he was seeking about the future squad'. A mad scramble for his signature looked set to begin as managers across Europe were asked for their thoughts about Rooney, while the whole saga could easily have proved very disruptive for the Red Devils. However, the panic was soon averted as Sir Alex Ferguson convinced him that his future lay at Old Trafford.
At the risk of turning this top ten a little Rooney-oriented, our next moment of the season is the striker's magnificent overhead kick in the Manchester derby. A goal described by Sir Alex Ferguson as one of the best he had ever seen at Old Trafford, Rooney showed the perfect technique as he took to the air to blast a volley beyond Joe Hart. Demonstrating athleticism, balance, skill and power, Rooney's goal was a real turning point for him after a difficult season up to that point, while it also clinched a vital three points for United and set them on course to finish top.
The January transfer window is sometimes perceived as a time when managers panic buy, with the madness going into overdrive on deadline day as deals are pushed through before the cut-off point. This season was even more extreme due to the large sums of money being splashed around by Chelsea and, consequently, Liverpool. The Blues prised Fernando Torres away from Anfield in a British-record £50million deal, to go with the £20million-plus purchase of Benfica defender David Luiz. Not to be outdone, Liverpool completed deals for strike pair Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.
Swansea win promotion
Away from the Premier League limelight there were numerous memorable moments from the Football League, but making our countdown is Swansea's play-off victory over Reading on Monday. For sheer excitement a play-off final at Wembley cannot be beaten and this was an absolute classic, as Brendan Rodgers' Swans stormed into a three-goal lead before Reading hit back. Scott Sinclair had the final say as he completed a hat-trick to make it 4-2 and ensure Swansea became the first Welsh side to earn promotion to the Premier League.
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