Everybody’s talking about The Stone Roses as United are bookies’ favourites and about to play City. After a promising start by United, City run riot and are 3-0 up before United score a great goal to give some faint hope. It’s all in vain as City attack again in waves before winning comfortably, 5-1. This is a memory of mine from September 1989, a memory I never thought I’d see repeated, but today, it’s even worse. At least when City won 5-1 in 1989, it was at Maine Road, today, they’ve won 6-1 at Old Trafford.
Nearly two months ago, I watched United give Arsenal the same kind of thrashing I watched City give United today. Before today’s game, the word on the quiet from my red brethren was a draw would be a good result due to the obvious fact that City are playing well and United, despite good recent results, are not.
Since City beat Tottenham 5-1 at White Hart Lane, there’s been all kinds of talk about how this could be their year. My belief has been that City have not played any team that they shouldn’t beat since then and I was waiting to see how they’d get on against teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or United. Today they gave a pretty good answer. Knowing City fans the way I do, they’ll already be out in the satellite towns of Manchester (despite all their talk, you won’t see many City fans in Piccadilly Gardens tonight) celebrating winning the title, like last season, before the clocks went back. This City team certainly can but there’s a long way to go ’til next May. As things stand, United are twelve goals & five points behind City, today’s a bad loss but we’ve all seen United recover bigger deficits than this.
On a personal note, I’m writing this an hour after the game, the result hasn’t yet truly sunk in, all I know for sure is City deserved the win. One thing I’ve gotta say in fairness to City fans is that for the first time in my years of watching derby matches, not once did I hear any mention, celebration or singing about the Munich air crash. Whether this is down to them now having a good team and thus not feeling the need to celebrate a tragedy or whether it’s down to the deserved slapping some of their fans got on Wembley Way or the motorway services last April, I don’t know but it was refreshing not to hear it.
United started the game with plenty of possesion and aggression but, despite that, I never thought at any time that City were under any pressure. Ballotelli’s goal was just too easy and when Jonny Evans got sent off in the opening minutes of the second half, I could feel a long afternoon coming on. With City three up on seventy minutes, United went into a kamikaze attacking mode without actually looking like scoring. The understanbly boisterous City fans were quietened with ten minutes to go when Darren Fletcher scored. City fans know from plenty of past experience that if any team could come back from 3-0 down, it’s United and there was a nervous quiet amongst the City fans’ section, just to my right but whilst United kept on trying, City’s defence were just too disciplined to be rattled. I believed when Fletcher scored that it was only at best a face saver, in the end, with three City goals in injury time, it wasn’t even that.