Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Monday January 16 2006
City of Manchester Stadium
A splendid day at Eastlands was made all the sweeter by the lack of sportsmanship displayed by the spoilt brat opposition. It shows how far the reds from Trafford have fallen when their purple nosed steward seeks to blame the referee for his and his teams failings, having said that he's never been a gallant loser even when they used to be good.
I set out to Eastlands full of foreboding given City's recent form. Spirits were lifted quite soon after the teams were announced and United named perhaps the worst central midfield pairing in the Premiership. Fletcher isn't Premiership class and O'Shea is a defender first, compare that to previous derbies where the opposition have fielded Keane and Scholes in the centre and you see how far they have fallen. City fielded their strongest available eleven with Riera making a derby debut. Fowler, Sibierski and Onouha were dropped to the bench with Sun moving to right back and Vassell and Cole starting up front.
The game started poorly with little derby day passion in evidence. What was obvious from the start however was the constant questioning and whingeing from Rooney, Shergar and the prancing showpony. Steve Bennett seemed more tolerant than he usually is, it was manyoo after all, but he refused to let them intimidate him as others have in the past. The game swung into life on 32 minutes when Sinclair finished well. The bitterest of all managers moaned it was offside, maybe it was from the initial cross, conveniently forgetting the numerous dodgy derby decisions that have gone his way in the past. Having gained the upper hand, City gained in confidence and never really looked like losing from this point. 7 minutes later they re-affirmed that confidence and superiority when Vassell turned the useless Silvestre and neatly slid the ball beyond Van Der Sar. There was still time in the first half for Rooney to talk himself into a yellow card, the man is talented for sure and also made for manyoo with the tantrums he displays when he and his team is being outplayed
The bitter one acknowledged his tactical ineptitude at The break, replacing the hapless Evra with Smith, the new Keano? The change made little difference as the expected onslaught never materialised. The 66th minute was to provide the icing on the cake and confirm Trafford's status as the new laughing stock in town. The prancing showpony, who had been every bit as ineffective as his team mates, was tackled firmly but fairly by Jordan. After realising that he wasn't going to get a free kick he jumped up and attempted vengeance in the form of an assasination on Cole. The studs were raised, the aim was for Cole's knee, he missed but the intent was clear for all to see. That Trafford are appealing his red card simply confirms the arrogance of the club, the tackle was dangerous, the red card justified, end of.
Strangely enough the red card galvanized Trafford and they played their best football of the game. Shergar pulled one back on 76 minutes but that was it. The more Trafford pressed the more gaps appeared in an already shaky defence and it was City who looked the more likely. That it was Fowler that scored the third on 90 minutes made the day complete, especially given his celebrations in front of what was the worst United support I have witnessed at a derby.
From start to finish the men in black made no noise at all. A few at the front of tier two spent 90 minutes pointing at watches, shouting 30 years, pointing out City fans to stewards and generally making fools of themselves, but beyond that nothing. Presumably the louder members of their support have moved onto the pastures new that are fcum, looking at their team I don't blame them.
Given that in recent years, United attempt to brush off the increasing derby defeats by saying this game doesn't matter, I suppose they aren't that bothered with the result!! However, now that they are only as likely to win something as City, they might like to consider the importance of these games. When you aren't playing in Europe local pride does matter and once again that local pride belongs to City. Easy six points? I'm still waiting.
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Date:Monday January 16 2006
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