There was a strange build up to this game. Superficially, United fans (myself included) were exuding confidence about having a party on derby day. Privately, myself and virtually every red I know would have been delighted with a draw tonight. United hadn’t lost a league game in nearly five months since the terrible performance at a staggeringly poor Norwich City in November. The truth is that United haven’t played well since the first half of the Chelsea FA Cup game immediately after being knocked out of the European cup just under a month ago. The two league matches since then (prior to tonight’s match) had seen United beat Reading and Sunderland by a goal to nil without really looking impressive. Everybody knew that United would have to improve dramatically on last Mondays dreadful performance at Stamford Bridge because one thing that was obvious was that City were going to be up for this game tonight.
International football has interfered with momentum built up over the past couple of weeks with the usual bad smell surrounding the small town, meatheaded inbreds that follow the England side. Despite looking forward to the return of Premier League football, I hadn’t given the small time watered down Geordies that United played today too much thought until last night. Then last May came back to me and with the memory of the glee of the ‘sunlan’ (sic) fans in reaction to Aguero’s goal, I wanted United to give them a thrashing today at their pretentiously named stadium. That didn’t happen but a 1-0 win which temporarily put United eighteen points clear is a very acceptable second prize.
We live in strange times. Last weekend, the coldest one this year thus far, there was no sign of any of those blue and white scarves that were so ubiquitous last season. Perhaps those scarves like the team they showed an allegiance to is, to use the vernacular of the fashion fraternity, “so last year”. Fashion is a fickle thing and that trait is something that dovetails beautifully with our mustachioed blue cousins. The noisy neighbours have suddenly gone very quiet. You may not have seen any City fans for a few weeks, maybe even a few months. You may feel that they’re now truly doing a Poznan and singing We’re Not Really Here but fellow reds, it’s our duty as decent people and neighbours to knock on their doors or call their phones. Ask them if they want a paper, maybe some shopping or suchforth. Whatever you do, call them, remind them of the fifteen point gap constantly and laugh your fuckin’ head off. After the gloatathon (sic) of last summer, it’s the very least we can do. With City’s defeat/moral victory at Goodison Park, a very good day was compunded by the Leeds scum and Liverpool losing. It’s always a joy to hear both of them have lost no matter how far they’ve slipped down the footballing pyramid. Liverpool had recently enjoyed a couple of decent results. This meant that they’d had their 79th resurgence since they last won the title 23 years ago. I’ll repeat that, 23 YEARS. Rodgers must stay!
Due to us knowing who’s been drawn in the next round, tonights match actually felt like a replay at the first time of asking. Bearing in mind the logistics, if ESPN really must show a match on a Monday night, couldn’t they have arranged for Everton’s match at Boundary Park for it instead. Season ticket holders all got begging texts the other day from United asking us if we wanted to bring a relative, friend or even an enemy and since the final whistle, we have been informed that the money for the next round is to be deducted from our accounts forthwith with an admirable speed. You’ve got to admire the efficiency of the United ticket office in sorting this out, an efficiency which nearly always induces a strong response when discussed by reds who have the fortune to deal with them. Many times in recent years, I’ve moaned about the atmosphere at Old Trafford but tonight was in comparison with recent matches, a reasonably good one, certainly in the East Lower (Scoreboard end for old school) where I was tonight for a change of scenery. The Stretford End were making a decent racket. As for Reading fans, they were like every other half witted collective of Southerners who’ve polluted our palatial stadium with their presence this season. I’ll give the Scousers one thing, they hate us with a hatred that is unique, it’s when you come across the wasters that support these Southern teams (Tottenham excepted) that you appreciate that. They all sing the same songs/chants in an attempt to rile United fans into a reaction and then get all sour when a bored United crowd can’t be arsed engaging. The usual generic shite about supporting their local team (when they appear to be doing everything but) and about how all United fans are cockneys. Half the time, I’m there thinking “ahh bless” the way you would indulge a crowd of children who are having a bit of harmless fun. They must think that we have never heard this “banter” before or failing that, they are doing what Southerners are famously good at and strangling the life out of a half decent joke ad infinitum.
Things have changed at City. As Daniel Taylor from The Guardian pointed out, time was “when you might bump into Curly Watts or Eddie Large at Man City games. Tom Cruise is here today”. It was one of them days, I saw the Riot squad tearing down Every Street at 12.50 when all seemed quiet. Later on after the match, a prominent member of Uniteds firm was seen embracing a GMP football intelligence officer on Ashton New Road in a scene which had me thinking of the 1914 Christmas day truce in the Somme..