Date:Thursday January 21 2010
And there was me thinking that City were the toast of the Academy system with a steady flow of graduates emerging year after year.
From the class of Micah Richards, Stevie Ireland and Joe Hart, to the FA Youth Cup winning Daniel Sturridge and Vladimir Weiss, City have been proving that they are up there with the very best in producing top class professional footballers.
Add Dereyck Boyata to a list that now numbers twenty-eight first team débutantes and it is easy to get caught up in the hype that is the Manchester City academy.
On the other hand, you could be forgiven for thinking that United must be crying into their prawn sandwiches whilst casting an envious gaze up at their aristocratic neighbours.
After all, the Old Trafford money-well is running dry and with a spine-breaking amount of debt looming over the Stretford Club and an academy that is well just not a patch on their more illustrious rivals, United look well and truly on the wane.
The latest Manchester derby however, showed us that we couldn’t be further from the truth as Alex Ferguson, just like he had promised, kept faith with his team’s youngsters that had gotten him to the Semi-Final of the Carling Cup.
In fact, those young players gave City’s millionaire superstars a real scare in the first and second half of the game succumbing only to two unjust goals by Ex-Red’s flop Carlos Tevez.
Ferguson, not one to blow his own trumpet, himself said,
“A semi-final against United when they haven’t been in a final for so long is the biggest motivation City could have so far this season,”
“So it’s a bigger, more important game for them than us,” he added. “It’s a game for the fans and their emotions.”
Of course from a squad that was really only shorn of Duck-bill Ferdinand and Emanuella VIdic, Ferguson could have been forgiven for fielding his full strength XI that has seen them imperiously sweep all but Chelsea aside this season in their quest for the Premier League title.
But Ol’ Bacon Face has principles, and refused to be deflected from his original aim,
'I will stick with the principle of picking young players on Wednesday,' said the United chief.
'That is what we have done in the Carling Cup and we are not changing that.'
Great thought I, so the likes of Darron Gibson and Danny Welbeck were expected to start, much to delight of the Eastland’s faithful.
But of course Fergie had duped us all again by hiding the best Old Trafford gem’s United have produced since the golden era of Neville, Sharpe and Nicky Buttocks and unleashed them on City in what almost turned out to be a masterstroke.
Regulars Rafael, Evans and Anderson were all involved to add a spice of experience to the fledglings on show, whilst the viewing public were treated to a plethora of young talent beginning with the spritely Edwin Van Der Sar, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick and finishing with new ‘Ginga sensation’ Paul Scholes and choir boy Michael Owen.
Roberto Mancini in contrast blessed with having NEAR ten first teamers unavailable or injured in Adebayor, Santa Cruz, Lescott, Toure, Viera, Bridge, Ireland and Johnson to name but a few, decided to give youth a chance naming teenager Boyata in his starting lineup.
So well done to United for playing so well against ‘Lil Ciddy’ and to their manager for sticking to his principles in a game that meant nothing to all of the United fans out there- obviously more into golf and darts these days.
Ferguson vehemently believes his young guns can carry his side through to Wembley next week, but Mancini will be looking to his returning young guns to wipe the masticating Scotsman’s smile off his face.
After the hard fought game Ferguson, gracious as ever, said,
“I thought we controlled the game and looked comfortable in both halves, apart from a spell of about five minutes before half time.”
“With our magnificent crowd behind us at Old Trafford and experience in these types of games we’ll be ok.”
At first glance these words seem like supreme confidence from a man who has achieved it all, but on reflection are perhaps more befitting a man low on confidence trying to convince himself and his team that they are in a position of strength come next Wednesday.
One thing is for sure, saying it as part of a psychological strategy is one thing, believing it is altogether something else.
Let’s just hope for Bacon Face’s sake the worst of the weather has passed, as if he’s relying on the fans to lift his demoralized team, all of the airports and railway stations better be open and functioning properly or there might be more blues than reds cheering their team on.
Date:Thursday January 21 2010
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