The Ped Report Manchester United 1-6 City
On the build up to this match two words filled me with trepidation..Mark Clattenburg. I had visions of City having to scramble a draw with 10 men. On Friday those very capable pundits on Talk Rubbish, just as they did on the way to the FA Cup Semi Final last season didn`t give City a prayer. Surely a team that hadn`t lost at home since the creation of time would "just about take it".
As the day dawned over Trafford Park yesterday, the talk was of City "wanting to end the day top of the league" which was a shrouded way of saying that the Blues would settle for a draw at Old Trafford. What we were to witness from 1.30pm yesterday simply stunned both sides of the city and sent shock waves around Canary Wharf, Milton Keynes and of the rest of the football outposts where United is the word.
Once again Mancini caught Ferguson on the hop with an attacking team selection. Ferguson as expected fielded a team to stretch City wide and deep, but it sadly lacks anything creative or destructive in central midfield.
With 3000 hardy souls cheering City on there was potentially a different result on the cards for the first 20 minutes or so. Young tried to emulate Ribery, taking on Richards who was often left isolated, one on one and Young looked to be the supply line.
Young is not Ribery, does not have the class, style or experience to use the space to inflict punishment. Mancini closed that option by presenting Milner ahead of Richards and for the rest of the match Young had to go hunting and was practically never seen again.
In the first 20 minutes United huffed and puffed but didn`t get their usual run of the ball, the usual strokes of luck nor a meaningful shot on goal.
City once again were like the vintage traction engine. They took a while to get going, but then got into gear like a well-oiled machine and swept all before them. And so it proved on 22 minutes when a throw-in saw the ball reach wandsmith David Silva, who immediately found Milner. As the United defence shaped up for a far post cross, Milner had spotted Balotelli drifting off the defence as he did against Everton. As soon as Milner`s pass found Balotelli it was launched like a rocket just inside the far post giving De Gea no chance at all.
Out came today`s party piece as Mario revealed an undershirt bearing the legend "Why Always Me?" and true to form Clattenberg went hunting for paperwork. So what?
After that this was a game of one-way traffic where the indefatigable Manchester United were crucified in front of their own fans.
What more can we say about David Silva. Simply the best footballer in the English Premier League by a long way..and he plays for City! He took the game by the scruff of the neck making the journeymen known as Fletcher and Anderson look like those dummies they use in training.
This City team knows the importance of cherishing the football, they make it theirs, they make it impossible for opposition to get it off them, they make it difficult for the opposition to score.
They seemed to amble their way to half time without any scares and with a back four in total command as Rooney and Co looked forlorn figures well out of their depth.
City have become specialists at getting early goals in the second half and they set off on the front foot once again. The ball went into super Mario who spun Evans, inviting the foul as he prepared to make it 2-0. Evans "took one for the team", probably expecting a friendly yellow card. But Mr Clattenberg went into his top pocket, Evans was on his way to the showers and United down to 10 men.
The free kick came to nothing but City were limbering up for the most spectacular half hour ever since the inception of Premier League football.
On the hour the same combination of Silva and Milner carved open United`s left, Milner`s final ball final Balotelli unattended at the far post. He won`t miss from there.
Ten minutes later, once again City opened up the United left. This time Milner caught the run on the overlapping Richards, whose first time pass found Aguero lurking at the far post, 3-0.
Soon after the firework show was over as Balotelli was replaced by Dzeko, who could have had a hat trick before he finally did get on the scoresheet..twice. He dragged a shot from the inside left channel wide. Was the match all over? No, sir, it was just getting going.
With Rooney dropping deeper and deeper, like a scuba diver refusing to come up for air, Silva was the man. He bossed everything, set up everything, found room where there was none. But it was United who next troubled the scorers. Rooney started the move passing to Fletcher. He played a one-two with Hernandez, for some reason only making the bench today, and drilled in an excellent shot from outside the box.
The Theatre of Nightmares was set for a grandstand finish wasn`t it? Surely 10-man United would soon make it 2-3 and grab a 96th minute equaliser, wouldn`t they? On another day against other opposition then maybe but not today my friends. On Tuesday City discovered the value of scoring right at the end so today they decided to emulate that, not once but three times!
First, a corner from the left was headed on by Barry. Lescott wide of the right post tapped it back in to Dzeko completely on his own to score as the offside arms went up.
Thirty seconds later Dzeko drew in the defenders and played the ball out to Silva who darted in on goal and slotted the ball between De Gea`s legs.
Another minute and Silva played a volleyed deadweight pass that must be the best you will ever see and found Dzeko, who still had work to do. By now he had found his range and calmly struck the ball into the net giving Shaggy De Sciatica no chance once again.
This was another great day in the life of "the project" as Sheikh Mansour continues to deliver his promises to our football club and Roberto Mancini translates that into the kind of football we can`t believe we are watching.
Look at the team sheet. Quality in every division. World class footballers everywhere. And at last every player "playing for the shirt". On this day we had many "best of breed" performances. A back four where every player knew his job and was simply brilliant, giving the so-called Champions only one look at the netting all afternoon. A midfield that is simply masterful in its construction and lethal in its execution. And strikers that ….strike. Behind it all England`s Number One. A young goalkeeper that is simply superb.
At the other end today I did not see world class footballers. I saw one who was a shadow of himself for once not up for the fight, I saw a lot of journeymen, who may have punched above their weight last season, but clearly won`t this year.
You see the line-ups side by side this morning and you ask yourself "Which eleven would you rather have, would you have any of the United players?".
De Gea looks suspect, Ferdinand past it. If Evra and Nani played as well as they spout on the lead in to these matches they might be good, but the puffing of cheeks and dropped heads told the real story.
None of their midfield is up to it and they are very light up top. Why would you go with Welbeck when your offside goal machine sits on the bench?
This was top quality day from a top quality team assembled by a top quality Club. The stars are fading at Stretford and those who are phoning in sick today know it. This was not a statement of intent by noisy neighbours, it was a certificate of delivery, a stamp of approval which left the reds totally gutted. Even Mr Clattenberg did everything asked of him except grant Micah Richards a penalty.
So who is writing history now? Will Sky bring out a dvd of the best Derby ever? They quickly did so after the 4-3, but with United losing a seven goal thriller by the odd six in seven, I suspect none will be forthcoming. Commentators are calling it a "tennis score". After seven isn`t it "New balls please"? Or in United`s case "New players please".
This should set City up well for the battles to come, but even I don`t expect Wolves to cause us any trouble next week.
And the wonderful fans gleefully sang to Alex Ferguson .. "You`re getting sacked in the morning". All before the Glazers heading off with day`s takings to Wembley to watch their other sporting stalwarts get savaged by the Bears.
Come on City!!!