Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday May 8 2009
THE VITAL CITY ZEN
IF YOU HATE MAN UNITED CLICK YER MOUSE
Resurgent City head for the city gates in search of the signs marked Old Trafford. Vital MC brings you the The Vital City Zen Manchester derby special...
This promises to be a fascinating head to head battle for a good number of reasons.
USA owned United are a club engulfed in astronomical debt which grows each day yet somehow they are still able to make massive bids for the world's finest players.
Rumours are rife that United will be put up for sale by the Glazer family later this year as the global economic crisis closes in on them. Meanwhile, efforts continue to make as much money as possible across the planet.
Shirt sponsor AIG are already on their way out and the word on the city trader floors is that Saudi Telecom are lined up to replace them. Only this week the rags announced a telecoms deal with Airtel of India.
From a footballing perspective, the recent revelation that the rags are mounting an undenied enormous £70 million bid to sign Bayern Munich`s Franck 'Scarface' Ribery or AC Milan's Berlusconi pawn Kaka have been greeted with almost total silence from senior footballing figures and sports hack's alike.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi owned City are more than solvent and look to be in good hands for the forseeable future, arriving at The Swamp for the first time in their new found status as 'The World's Richest Club' TM. A horrific fact to swallow for United's day tripper following as they park up at the LCCC cricket ground and land at Ringway.
Plans to take MCFC forward have not only been underway, but set firmly in motion at SportCity since last summer. Land purchases, gym constructions, increased Academy commitments and community projects have all been realised in the space of a few months. Massive kit shirt sponsorship deals with Umbro and Etihad Airways will shortly be announced.
In contrast to United's elite G14 status, City have been widely pilloried from all angles and all levels for their attempts to disrupt the European football establishment by daring to sign one of the world`s finest players in the brilliant Robinho then moving for Kaka. Funny old thing.
Republic of Ireland then Sunderland walk out merchant and career ending specialist, Ipswich's Royston Vasey Keane recently snarled that his former team mate Mark Hughes cannot be viewed as successful.
Since then, Hughes' erratic City side have put in their most consistent winning run of the season which has put them within touching distance of a seventh placed league finish and Europa League qualification.
Hughes has had to wrestle with an unprecedented injury list all season that developed upon the back of a wafer thin squad through the first half of the season. He has been roundly criticized for some of his training methods, tactics and judgement from many Blues, this correspondent being no exception, but suddenly there are real signs that he is forging the resilience into his squqd we expected he would bring with him from Blackburn.
Hughes going up against one of his mentors, Sir Alex Ferguson in his own back yard, whilst now in charge of a big club with big ideas promises to be an intriguing contest.
Taggart has forged a dynasty at United that few clubs on the plant can live alongside. His achievements need no introduction. But his time as Evil Empire commander-in-chief is drawing to a close. He's rubbed our nose in it for many a year since that September day in '89 when his club`s own fans were calling for his head, so what a time for City to strike as he closes in on more honours.
Rags worldwide have long derided Manchester derbies as being 'City's Cup Final.' But that's exactly what these games are and the way they should be approached. Going into Sunday's clash, the rags need seven points to make sure of yet another Premier League title. City need to win to maintain their against all odds surge for a highest ever Premier League finish and the all new Europa League. More than ever, Sunday will come down to who want's it most.
To Sir Bacon Chops credit, he has continued to bring through United youngsters throughout their years of almost relentless glory. The continued mix with expensively bought rival and international stars is essentially the model City are striving to emulate after City's Academy keeping the club afloat. Hughes has repeatedly underlined His Highness Sheikh Mansour's commitment to youth by regularly fielding 5 or 6 Academy graduates in his 18 week in week out.
City have nothing to fear having already won at The Swamp last year and to a very certain extent have become something of a bogey side for United.
The Fans: Prawn To Be Wild?
For want of a better word the rags support at The Swamp was abysmal last time around, echoing the words of Sir Taggart who had been critical of the atmosphere there outside the city in the run up to the Munich Memorial derby. The ground echoed to The Blues gleeful chants of 'Fergie's right, your fans are shite' across the silence. The arrogant 'liddle ciddy' belittling smugfest known as 'United We Stand' proclaimed in the aftermath that 'this must never happen again.'
It will be interesting to see how they approach this one. In particular, I'll be looking out to see if the minted rags who have gone to the desperate lengths of hiring planes with banners to fly over the game will do so again. All power to The Blues travelling army.
This is the one that means everything and ever more shall be so.
Those butterflies in the stomach will be with you just like they were when you were a nipper. These games, like the team above are the stuff of legend.
May the best team win. English football needs a showpiece to banish the memory of the abject lack of dignity and respect that was Chelsea this week.
CITY: THE RAGS SEVEN YEAR DERBY ITCH
Since City were promoted under Mad Kev in May 2002 the myth that the Rags dominate Manchester derbies has been repeatedly exposed as tripe.
In point of fact, considering City were very much the Rags poor relations until August 2008 and have undergone a change of manager three times since the promotion which heralded new found top flight stability, The Blues have more than held their own against their vastly more well resourced bitter rivals.
WON: 9 November 2002 CITY 3-1 Rags 1
DRAW: 9 February 2003 Rags 1-1 CITY
LOST: December 2003 Rags 3-1 CITY
WON: 14 March 2004 CITY 4-1 Rags
LOST: 7 November 2004 Rags 1-0 CITY
LOST: 13 February 2005 CITY 0-2 Rags
DRAW: 10 September 2005 Rags 1-1 CITY
WON: 13 January 2006 CITY 3-1 Rags
LOST: 9 December 2006 Rags 3-1 CITY
LOST: 5 May 2007 CITY 0-1 Rags
WON: 19 August 2007 CITY 1-0 Rags
WON: 10 February 2008 Rags 1-2 CITY
LOST: 30 November 2008 CITY 0-1 Rags
…..10 May 2009?
CITY's RECORD: P:13 W:5 L:6 D:2 F:17 A: 17
CITY`s Points: 17 out of 39
The Rags Points: 20 out of 39
PUBLICITY: DECENT CLOBBER AVAILABLE SOON
Manchester City fans are reknowned for our cutting edge music and fashion tastes.
www.prettygreen.com is no exception to that rule. Let's see those desert boots at Eastlands in August.
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WHAT'S IN A WORD? THIS WEEK'S QUOTES
Sir Taggart tells it like it is: 'City will be desperate to win the game. That is natural. It is a derby game. Their fans would love to think they can stop us winning the league. There is nothing wrong with that. Our fans would be exactly the same. But that is the nature of derby games. It is not just a rivalry between the fans but also players and the people in the club and the wives and sons of supporters. It involves everybody.'
Sparky prepares to return to the dark side, only this time as a Blue: 'We're on a nice little run, four games unbeaten, and as I have said all week you have to go to Old Trafford with a lot of belief and confidence. That's what we have, we're playing well and winning games. We're looking forward to Sunday, we're in decent shape and if ever there was a time for us to go to Old Trafford, it's now.'
City Player of the Season to be Stephen Ireland reveals the mood in The Blue Camp: 'I'm really looking forward to it, the derby at our place was a real disappointment, but on Sunday it will be electric and it will be up to us to dictate the tempo. We have a better squad than last year, the players on the bench are really hungry to get in. Martin and Valeri are fighting to get in, Shaun should be back so it will be interesting to see what the line-up will be. Everyone is raring to go, and because we did not get any further in the UEFA Cup, we want to give the fans something to sing about. If we can win there then we can look at getting into seventh on our own.'
The vastly improved rag Patrice Evra recalls his appalling derby debut whilst registering his understanding of what lies ahead: 'City raise their game against us so they're always difficult games. I made my debut against them in the derby and, if I'm honest, it was a bad moment for me. But I learnt a lot about the derby and how bad it felt to lose. It's all about getting the three points and getting closer to the title.'
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Football League Division One
Maine Road, 8th May 1999
CITY 4 (1) - 0 (0) York
Scorers: Dickov 23, Horlock 76, Whitley 84 Allsopp 88
City: Weaver, Edghill, Crooks, Wiekens, Horlock, Vaughan, Brown, Bishop (Whitley,28), Dickov (Tiatto,86), Gareth Taylor (Allsopp,74), Cooke
Ten Year Memories: The crowd of 32, 471 was Maine Road's highest for five years. As the game ended, City learned that they would face Wigan in the play off semi finals.
@ The Swamp, Stretford
FA Premier League
Sunday 10th May 2009 @ 13:30 GMT+1 BST
The Citizens Last 6 PL games: WLLWWW
The rags Last 6 PL games: LWWWWW
Internet: www.manchesterunited.vitalfootball.co.uk/ www.manutd.com
Johnny On The Spot?
I really think we can get something here.
The rags, for all their dominance and attacking brilliance this season have revealed defensive frailties which remain. Though going into this one with the usual greater strength and quality in depth, they will have been stretched by their European commitments and the league battles they have had to overcome in recent weeks.
City meanwhile have run into form at the perfect time and as the sun starts to shine, Elano and Robinho have come out to play. SWP remains doubtful, but Zab's energetic return can only boost the Blues cause. Meanwhile, we'll be looking for Villa, Everton and Liverpool to do us favours. Bring it all on.
Rags 1 CITY 1
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Date:Friday May 8 2009
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