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..
Just like the game at Stamford Bridge six weeks ago, United again surrendered a two goal lead in a big away game and also recovered right at the end to win the match. Against Chelsea, it was done against a nine man side who’d correctly had two of their players sent off. Today, it was done against a far better City side who somehow still had eleven men on the pitch at full time. Any United fan who said prior to todays match that they expected United to win are either clueless or they’re liars. Virtually every red I know would have bitten your hand off for a draw pre kick off. A win, which we all knew United were capable of could’ve happened but nobody I know was putting any serious money on United for that outcome.
To nobodies surprise, the genius that is David Silva was passed fit despite him being classed as doubtful last Monday. City really are amateurs when it comes to this kidology lark. This morning, Antonio Valencia had inadvertently let the cat out of the bag regarding his own fitness by telling his adoring public via Twitter, to expect a surprise. I have a feeling that behind closed doors, Sir Alex Ferguson would not have been too pleased with that for reasons which should be obvious. There were also a lot of tongues wagging pre kick off when it was announced that 19 year old goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was in the squad in place of Anders Lindergaard. It transpired that the reason for that was Mrs Lindergaard had, overnight gone into labour which nicely quelled any of the more excitable rumours that were already being bandied about after his performance at Reading last week. Bearing in mind how fragile United’s defence has been recently, I was at the very least expecting City to score today but when I heard that Roberto Mancini had picked Mario Balotelli over Carlos Tevez to start, I thought it was an early gesture of festive neighbourly goodwill from the City manager. Balotelli was brought off by his surrogate father three minutes after attempting a back heel which ended up near Rio Ferdinand’s groin. This is obviously another sign of the new found maturity that figures at City were endlessly warbling on about last season. That Balotelli on his day is an excellent footballer is a given. That he’s also a grade one dickhead is also just as big a certainty.
The team Sir Alex Ferguson picked boded well. Unlike last April, this was a very attack minded side he’d picked with, in the best United traditons, two wingers in Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia and overlapping full backs in Patrice Evra and Rafael. Coupled with a centre forward partnership of Rooney and Van Persie, he was playing with relative abandon and doing away with the crowded midfield that he tried in April. After United kicked the game off City soon got in stride and in the 5th minute, they won a corner. Gareth Barry and Sergio Aguero tried the same tactic on David De Gea that Jason Roberts did with such great effect on Anders Lindergaard in last weeks match at Reading. It didn’t look right though, Aguero is a top quality striker but he doesn’t have the same physical presence of Jason Roberts. As for Gareth Barry, the less said about him, the better. Ballotelli got away with a foul throw on 9 minutes and then a minute later, he shot the ball well over the bar from 12 yards after a good overlapping run from Gael Clichy. Against the run of play on 15 minutes from a sweeping counter attack driven by Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney on the 18 yard line put United 1-0 in front. Joe Hart just stood there, he must have thought the shot was going wide but it just crawled into his bottom right hand corner. That United scored against the run of play is agreed by virtually everyone. Do United fans care about that ? About as much as City fans did in 2007 when United played City off the park at the Commonwealth Stadium and somehow lost. Fourteen minutes later, after some good work by Antonio Valencia, Rafael cut through City’s left flank and crossed to an unmarked Wayne Rooney near the penalty spot to make it 2-0 for United. This penchant that Mancini has for zonal marking did in my opinion cause that goal, either that or it was the fault of City’s new Serbian centre half Matija Nastasic who was caught chronically out of position. City signed Nastasic in the summer with the fanfare of him being the new Nemanja Vidic. He’s young and maybe in time, he will be as good as his Serbian compatriot but he looked more like the hapless and recently departed Stefan Savic at the back for City today.
Last season at the Tripe Colony, Joe Hart didn’t make a single save as City deservedly won 1-0 on their way to winning the Title. Today, Joe Hart again didn’t make a single save but this time, there was three shots on target plus a perfectly good goal by Ashley Young disallowed for an incorrect offside call. Pablo Zabaleta was in the right full back position playing Young onside when the flag was was erroneously raised on 60 minutes which would have made the score 3-0. This offside call was a pivotal moment in the match. I believe if that goal had been given, which it should have been, United could have gone on to score a similar win as to what City achieved at Old Trafford in October last year. My reasoning is basically, City would have gone kamikaze the same way United did last season and United would’ve picked them off the same way that City did. Forty five seconds later after Youngs goal, Yaya Toure swept City back into the game after a brilliant double save from David De Gea. From that moment, City got the momentum and we all knew there was going to be a lot of pressure on the United goal from there on in. Allowing for that though, both Patrice Evra on 69 minutes and Robin Van Persie on 78 minutes sent free header’s off target which they should have scored from. Twenty six minutes after Toure brought City back into the game, an unmarked Pablo Zabaleta on the edge of the penalty area equalised for City with a shot that went through Phil Jones legs and past an unsighted David De Gea. I was expecting a City winner from here, just praying United kept it tight and played with some discipline.
In the second minute of injury time, Carlos Tevez gave away a daft free kick by tripping up his old pal Rafael near the 18 yard line. Robin Van Persie had a little chat with Wayne Rooney before firing a free kick that was in line to be saved by Joe Hart. What happened next would have the most hardened cynic believing in karma. The ball slided off the instep of a cowering Samir Nasri to divert the ball past Joe Hart to give United the winner. This is the same Samir Nasri who, in the summer of 2011, turned down a move to Old Trafford for more money at City, guiding in a free kick that was given away by Carlos Tevez, who left United in the summer of 2009 for more money at City from a shot by Robin Van Persie, a lad who this summer turned down more money at City to play for United. How sweet can that be ?
Thanks to Lee Thomas and Neil Meehan for their help in writing this
7 thoughts on “In A Backdrop Of Hot Air And Blue Smoke – Manchester, 9th Of December 2012”
Watched it in the Cloggers pub in Failsworth which was packed full of reds. No one could call it pre-game although I did mention 3-2 was a very popular score for us this season and with the team sheet I was happy we were at least going to give it ago unlike last season.
Got to give Fergie his due and you know I basically only ever credit him for being a brilliant man manager rather than a tactician, but he go the tactics spot on. Was basically a carbon copy of the FA Cup match last season. Draw them on and then hit them on the flanks with pace…and it worked a treat. Except for the good chance for Balotelli early doors, City huffed and puffed but created little. Meanwhile we split them wide open several times. At 2-0 and starting to feel a bit more confident the thing everyone could agree on was “no controversy”. We didn’t want our ‘tached cousins to have any moral standing after the game if we won. So after a 3-2 win when we should have gone 3 up and had a chance to really get revenge for the drubbing at home last season (again similarities to the FA Cup game…and not just the final score), should have had a penalty, and should have seen Kettle neck get sent off at least once (ok that’s not possible but you know what I mean), plus the incident at the end with the coin, then you’d have thunk we’d have got our wish. Although I did say to fellow reds they still would find something.
Anyway it started on 606 as I drove back to London on the M6 to be with my fellow Cockney Red (ahem). Martin Fergie Time Atkinson, disgrace for celebrating in front of their fans, steward slashed in the United section all lapped up by Alan “Can you imagine me not standing up to Fergie” Green as being gospel and unequivocal proof that United were at fault again. Green then managed to throw in Neville’s infamous celebration against the Mickeys and as quick as you can tell Tevez to put the kettle on United were at fault.
Followed up with a phone in on 5live over whether the players (obviously by implication United players) should take responsibility for the actions of fans…even those from Knutsford in dodgy winter hats…and history was indeed being rewritten.
Even though we could have gone on to win handsomely and maybe even equal or better the 1-6 there is still something much sweeter to win it the way it unfolded…and for that reason only I thank Martin “Homer” Atkinson for yet another shocking refereeing display and am not just referring to games involving us or even of a referee that weekend, if anyone saw the highlights of Villa v Stoke you’d know what I am talking about.
Thought our 30 minutes after the first goal was the best performance of the season so far considering the game/opposition as well…now lets hope we start to grow on this
I’d like to say it’s a good read…at least you didn’t call us “staggeringly poor” – I’d have had to give Bilbo a call to sort you out…
(I even had someone throw a tuppence at me this morning (all be it under arm!) – but to make up I did get a hug off Pete Boyle in the playground!)
See you over Christmas Tony!
I find this moral victory business really funny! When did anyone win the league by moral points or even moral goal difference? Perhaps I need to have a word with myself for celebrating 3 points yesterday cos I must admit I felt no shame…
Robbin Cousins will only give himself the s/#ts waiting for something positive on 606 and the like. A pre requisite on those programmes is to get a reaction from us Reds. Thankfully few ever bite leading to more outrageous crap than before. The match? Watched it on the tele with mostly Reds. Mood after was one of measured euphoria, if thats not bollox. You’ve got to enjoy it cos it’s win against title rivals. But we all know nothing won yet blablah. Conceding goals is just a matter of time with the current United team. It needs sorting out. Exciting for neutrals is thrown around. F@?K them. They’re the twats are the ones that sit at home or sit on their hands in silence when these games are raging. A least that poorly dressed toff from M 2000 CH cared enough to bring shame on his team. Something we all should have at some time or other. Carrick played very well, as most would agree. But I can’t remember what it is he does so well. Good read as ever. Ordered me Buckscanary for Xmas dinner. Butcher said he’ll do what he can. Needs stuffin I’ve been told.
Even Martin Samuel has something to say on that particular 606 phone in and backs up what I’d alluded to above about City fans trying to change history, flipping the coin if you will…
Believe me I don’t normally listen to the phone ins but needed something to pretend to listen to as I smiled inanely to myself all the way back down the M6/M40
As for Carrick all I will say is that I thought the midfield unit did well especially first half, but lost their way in the second half and did start to get over-run. The thing with Carrick is he never seems to stand out whether we are doing well or when needed when we are doing badly…in fact the latter he tends to go missing and has no imposing qualities to ruffle a few feathers…what is he 6ft 2 or something? I thought he did well enough in this game though in the collective unit. That’s praise by the way Murph
Nicely summed up Murph.
How appropriate that the loathsome shitbag Tevez should put his team in danger late on with a typically snidey little foul, resulting in an RVP free kick which is then swept into the net by long term United transfer target Nasri.
Just one problem Samir ma cherie, it was the wrong net!!!!!
Yep, the shithouse wouldn’t even put himself in the way of a free kick save for a match winning flick of a leg as he cowered behind Dzeko – surely no one can now rue the day he opted for cash instead of rampant ambition. Massive choice. What a dick.
Overall: sure it’s only one game and just three points, but mightily satisfying all the same.
Cheers for a good day out Berties, keep it glistening.
This time last season you couldn’t hear yourself boozin for the new boys boasting about clean sweeps. Where are they now. Of course nothing won nothing lost. But hold on. Has the history of last season taught them a lesson.But we know that history is bunk to them. So what has happened to them. The blue torch (surely to be investigated by the FA.) lit by their support to celebrate a moral victory was, like last season, to early. Talking of FA investigations. What about that wild kick by the domestic assistant known as tevez, late in the game. Seems to have gone unnoticed so far. Good reading on here.