Vir: Howard Johnson
Soccer 365’s Howard Johnson enjoys another Blue Moon Rising after a second derby win of the season and finally believes that Citeh really can go on to win their first title in 44 years…
So I couldn’t have been more wrong! Having as good as thrown in the towel after City’s defeat at Arsenal it’s all back on again. Which just goes to show that Journey really were onto something when they wrote Don’t Stop Believin’! Doh!
Still, let’s be honest. Manchester United have done more to put Manchester City back on top of the Premier League pile than Manchester City have of late. By rights it should have been all done and dusted when City slipped to eight points behind their own noisy neighbours. No Manchester United team worth its salt should let that kind of advantage slip so close to the end of a campaign. But a tame loss to Wigan and above all a super-sloppy home draw against Everton when they were two goals to the good with just eight minutes left to play shows what most of us have suspected for a while this campaign – that this United side is not of an extraordinary vintage.
Not that United’s failings should detract from City’s campaign. Everybody knows that the first time is the toughest. Getting over the line for a first title in 44 years is a task of gargantuan proportions and if Roberto Mancini manages to guide City to glory then it will only get easier from there on in.
Yes, you can talk about the money that’s been spent on what they rather unromantically call ‘The Project’ at Middle Eastlands. But what club ever built anything of note in football without a cash injection? United fans conveniently forget that for decades they always had the financial muscle to shunt anyone else out of the way in the transfer market. Blackburn won the title because they spent big for the time. So did Chelsea. Yes, the proportions have changed. But the demands have become ever greater. So let’s have less of that ridiculous talk, eh?
I think we Citeh fans can allow ourselves a few brief moments to enjoy what has been a memorable league double against United this season. There’s no argument that we absolutely battered them at their place with the 6-1 win. But while the margin of the Etihad victory was slender, there’s no doubt that City were again the more potent attacking force – by far! United were tentative, aware that they only needed a draw to effectively box off a 20th title. But what was perhaps surprising was the manner in which Ferguson went about his business. The red-faced Scot has always had the courage of his convictions in the past, sending his teams out to attack with the philosophy that it really is the best form of defence. Against City United were hesitant – they ‘parked the bus’, as numerous online commentaries have pointed out – and looked scared to go for it. They paid the price, which is as it should be. The most adventurous teams deserve to reap the rewards.
What was most pleasing from a City fan’s perspective, though, was the goal that sealed victory. While City have rightly been praised for the beauty of their creative attacking play throughout this campaign, it’s also a little-known fact that Mancini’s side have scored the most goals from corners of any Premier League team. City’s power game is one that’s often overlooked, but the way in which skipper Vinny Kompany shrugged off the attentions of Chris Smalling and planted a thunderbolt of a header into the United net showed as much about City’s impressive ability to go toe-to-toe when the going gets tough as anything else. This I like…
And talking of going toe to toe, hats off to Mancini for beating Fergie at his own game. How the United boss had the temerity to criticise his opposite number for haranguing the ref during the game when we’ve had God knows how many years of hairdryer treatment for each and every official I’ll never know. And good to see the normally suave and urbane Italian jabbing his finger in the direction of the apoplectic Scotsman with obvious relish. Way to go Bobby!
So yes, it’s all back on, though nobody should underestimate the size of the task ahead up on Tyneside this Sunday against a Newcastle team who have plenty of fire in their bellies and a realistic Champions League goal to aim for. It’s almost too tempting to say ‘Typical City’ already. After all, it would be so like us to beat United and then toss it away against the Toon. But this isn’t typical City any more, is it? This is the City that can now simply summon up a win against their biggest rivals when they really, really need one. So strap yourselves in for a bumpy ride this Sunday all you City fans. But don’t make the same mistake I did after the Arsenal game. All you have to do now is believe!
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