Ultimately it has been a disappointing week for City due to the unfortunate defeat to Manchester United in the derby clash at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The week started with the distraction of a brief international break which saw England pit their wits (if they have any) against Denmark in a remarkably pointless fixture. Seemingly, the fixture was scheduled to justify Fabio Capello’s pay packet. Not that he should be on the Football Association’s payroll after such a dismal World Cup in South Africa last year. Nonetheless, the fixture registered of absolute no interest to me and I was only reminded of it by stumbling upon the BBC website to see the score was one all. I found out the next day that England won the match two one in the end. Great!
Following the international break, the media started their usual barrage of hype leading up to the Manchester derby. The usual and rather predictable topics came to fruition. For example, do City have the team spirit and togetherness to beat United? United’s experience of having been there before should see them through. What I found particularly notable was the Manchester Evening News’s 12 page pull-out ‘Derby Special’. It was fascinating to see how the same article could be re-written in a slightly different way across twelve pages. The only differences between articles were whether the journalist preferred City or United. If City had a chance the journo was leaning towards City, if United were going to effectively rule out City’s title hopes the journo was a red. Of course all of this pre-match hype was accompanied by the fans’ opinions on derbies gone by and their predictions for the game ahead, all of which were absurdly bias and showed about as much intellect as an earth worm. This kind of idiocy is usually found on the bluemoon forum and I imagine the United equivalent, not that I intend to confirm that for you. Surely all the hype would mean the game would be a disappointment?
The game started very brightly for City and they should have taken the lead after David Silva combined well with Carlos Tevez and Yaya Toure to carve open the United defence. Unfortunately, Silva poked the ball just wide of the post from a tight angle. The game continued at a good tempo with half chances falling to both teams. It was United who took the lead after Nani collected a through ball from Ryan Giggs to steer the ball past Joe Hart just before half time.
City, in retrospect, probably were the better team in the second half as they took the game to United. Their endeavour was rewarded with a goal after Edin Dzeko, a second half substitute, powered a shot towards goal which cannoned off Silva’s back and completely fooled Edwin Van der Sar and put City back on level terms. A slightly fortunate goal but fully deserved.
City continued to press and the game looked as if it could go either way. It was not to be City’s day though as they were undone by a fine strike from Wayne Rooney. There is no need for me to explain the goal as I’m sure there are plenty of other people to do that for you. What I will say is that I’m not sure what I find more amazing, the goal itself or the fact that Rooney actually scored a goal. It is just a pity for me and for City that a striker that has been absolutely useless for almost a year found his form in the latter stages of this game. The goal took the wind out of the City’s sails and United held onto the claim the three points.
Ultimately, it was a disappointing day and week for City. The game was entertaining and I felt that City did not deserve to lose and were undone by a ‘freak’ goal, if you will. I say ‘freak’ as it came from an out of form striker and it was rather a good goal. However, at least City went for it in this game as apposed to milling around waiting for United to do something, which has been the case in some other recent derbies.
It has been suggested in the post match fallout that City’s title hopes are over. Quite an absurd thing to say with eleven games left of the season. For sure, it will be difficult for City win the league, yet unexpected things can happen in football. For example, no one expected United to lose to Wolves last week and no one expected Arsenal to surrender their four goal lead to Newcastle either. I also seem to recall that no one expected City to beat Chelsea earlier in the season, as at that stage Chelsea were top of the league and had won all of their games. My point being, all is not lost. Even if City do not win the league it is great from a fans’ perspective to be involved in the title race.
In other news this week, I was outside the local shop after the game and found it rather amusing that there were some rather loud and drunk Norwich City fans singing about how great Manchester United were. I couldn’t figure it out until I remembered that is part of United fans ‘gold and green’ protest against their American owners and a signal of how they want to return to their roots of Newton Heath. The same Newton Heath that sits under the shadow of the City of Manchester stadium. The irony is lost of most of the Norwich, sorry, I mean United fans. I suspect most of them do not know where Newton Heath is. Nevertheless, as long as the Americans are piling debt onto United I’m sure it won’t be long until United return to their lowly roots of Newton Heath. Sound bitter? Well, I am!
Words by Rob Toole