JACK'D OFF: On Footy Comeback Wins

Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Jack’d Off”.  This candid and honest column is a collection of rants from the incomparable Jack “The Cracker” Stone.  They represent his personal opinions on aspects of sports that matter to him.  

You know what really Jack’d me off this week?  Manchester City scoring late at Tottenham to win the match 2-1.  After being up 1-0 at White Hart Lane, Spurs couldn’t at least earn me a draw.  Also, it was Edin Dzeko scoring the winner in the 88th – is it ever anyone other than Dzeko?  Next time City are tied late in the match I will be yelling at my T.V “WATCH DZEKO!!! MARK DZEKO!!!”  Jeez, won’t anyone learn?

It is quite hypocritical of me to complain seeing that I’m a Manchester United fan, and they’ve been known to have made a comeback or two (they also had a comeback victory this weekend), but it made me think about their extensive collection of comebacks over the years…. Let’s talk!

Over the years I have watched a lot of English Premier League football and noticed that teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and as of late Manchester City, have been lethal after the 80 minute mark.  I will first use Manchester United as a prime example as they have been dubbed the “Comeback Kings” ever since their famous Champions League win against Bayern Munich back in 1999 when the Devils scored in the 91st and 92nd minutes to claim the trophy with a 2-1 victory thanks to substitute players Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunner Solkjaer.  Since then they have continued to score late winners or important levelers so many times it would drive opposing supporters to throw back bottles of whiskey on a Sunday afternoon. Suckers.

This season Manchester United already have four late winners in EPL as well as two in Champions League.  Chelsea in the past years of battling for top position with United I can remember many times slamming my television remote into pieces after another late Blues winner collecting 3 crucial points.  This year they already have two late ones to their credit.  Manchester City have jumped into the late-match heroics, as we all remember last year’s Premier League winner being down by a goal to QPR before Edin Dzeko scored in the 92nd and then Sergio Aguero in the 95th to win it all.  This season, City already have four late winners and a late equalizer to their credit with much thanks to Eden Dzeko coming off the bench.  Dzeko scored an 87th minute winner at Fulham,  he scored in the 80th and again in the 92nd at West Brom, and his latest one he netted in the 88th at Spurs this past Sunday.

How do the same teams seem to always achieve late goals?

Some of these big clubs are said to have referee decisions go their way, but I argue that very few of these late goals have been controversial at all.  Now that I think about it, I am realizing a bit of a pattern.  Dzeko is usually coming on as a late substitute, as well as Javier Hernandez who has been United’s late-match hero this year.  And in the 90’s it was Ole Gunnar Solkjaer coming off the bench to claim late winners.

Maybe it’s depth?  Being able to bring on a caliber of player like the ones I just listed can certainly help.  The fact that these big clubs that have plenty of depth and are able to bring on three players that could easily start on any other team and are entering the match at a time when players are knocked and more than fatigued.  This scenario creates great mismatches for the better teams.

I always say,  “why do they just sit back and defend?!”  Surely if you just sit back and let these top-ranked teams handle the ball you’re setting yourself up for punishment.  But maybe that is another quality that separates the best from the rest.  The big teams have big players that can all play 90 minutes and have the luxury of bringing in more players that have the same caliber and are fresh.  Also with all this added depth, they can pick and choose which style of player they want to put in to perfect the comeback.


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