Lightning Strikes Three Times
For lightning to strike twice is unbelievable, a landmark occasion, for it to occur three times, well that`s bizarre. Manchester City succumb to another injury time winner against the Old enemy for the third time this season, Paul Scholes heaped misery on the home fans and left Mancini`s men distraught after his late goal earned United a 1-0 away victory to continue their push for the Championship. In contrast City slipped up in their own push for Fourth with Spurs breathing down our necks.
Today`s Manchester Derby received growing amounts of attention and was billed as "The Biggest Manchester Derby" for 30 years. Our usual objective is to harm their hopes of any glory and to earn local pride. However, for ourselves, the season`s end is fast approaching and the opportunity to play in the Champions League couldn`t be greater. An added incentive of the fuelled "Carlos Tevez" war as well as the heart-breaking defeats we have endured this season could be rectified if we managed a Derby Day victory.
The odd panic, the occasional nerve and the rare anxious moment is understandable, but today we were a wreck. From start to finish, the horror of another defeat against the enemy loomed and the anxiety surrounding this, as well as the pressure of Champions League football next year looked evidently nerve-wracking. United were far from their flourishing best, a team unbelievably over-reliant on talisman Rooney, have found it too difficult recently to cope, hence their decision to play the injured star. Rooney`s effect on the game was minimal, the watching eye was observing his ankle closely and he rarely entered first gear, missing several key opportunities to put the visitors ahead.
Scoring 11 goals in two games we couldn`t have enterted the game in greater confidence, however, the lack of creativity could have never been more apparent. We were lacklustre, lethargic and disappointed far too often, the outstanding performers were defenders, illustrating where our priorities lay. The 90 minutes brought unwanted similarities to the Liverpool game, slow, agitated and tense. The occasion was never going to decide who finished fourth or who indeed wins the Championship, but we felt disappointed after expecting so much.
For the majority of the encounter, the battling was between the two managers, the tampering amongst their own teams was to counter attack their opponent rather than force the issue. After being treated to some tremendous Derby`s this year, we couldn`t have asked for more; the ultimate comeback`s, the gut-wrenching hammer blows, the forgotten man proving so pivotal and most importantly free-flowing admirable football. Today was different, despite the sun beating down and the crowd in terrific voice, very little could encourage the players. Nigel De Jong`s destructive power and harrying of the opponents earned great applause, but more was needed, he wanted support.
United had the best of the opportunities in the first half, Darren Fletcher came very close from his dipping shot and Giggs and Rooney missed fantastic opportunities from 8 yards. For ourselves, Bellamy would have been pleased he was facing the ageing Neville and created a brilliant opportunity only for the ball to miss everyone. Near misses and the odd shout was the best we had been given, a slight applause from both fans at half time, portrayed how much more we wanted.
The second half again failed to create much, Tevez was willing to do his usual running but failed in his objective to score. He wasn`t getting the chances and neither were City, the final ball lacked the zip, the final move as indecisive and all that was won was territorial possession. The managers twitched nervously, their subs were hardly game changing, cutting out the opponent was far too easy. The counter attack looked the best opportunity for both teams to edge out a close-fought win but neither could manager that decisive blow.
As the game was nearing a close, City were hoping to avenge all the hurt with a late goal themselves, Somehow, we failed to witness the net bulge with Vieira having a goal winning chance that was finally cleared after a small exchange of pin ball. A draw was probably the most likely outcome and a fair result. Nevertheless, after countless last minute goals United are always confident of a late winner themselves and they had just that. Paul Scholes, scored another against us as he strode unwatched into the area, a far cross fell perfectly for the midfielder who headed home past Given`s despairing dive.
This was nightmare stuff. Three times we have had a draw/injury time result only seconds away, but again switched off at a crucial period. United didn`t, we were punished, the groans were deafening, squirming in our seats hoping to wake up, it was over, we had blew it.