Monday, August 20, 2007

City win Manchester bragging rights

Manchester City have earned a famous win in the Manchester derby which will send their fans into rapture and Manchester United’s wondering if it’s time to call their situation a crisis.

What do you say when last year’s champions have only earned 2 points in their opening 3 games? What do you say when a relegation candidate from last season is in great form and have earned full points from their first 3 games?

It didn’t start that way. It was almost embarrassingly one sided in the first 30 minutes. Nani should have opened the scoring when Paul Scholes neatly laid the ball off to him at the edge of the 6 yard box, Nani was tentative though and Kasper Schmeichel parried the shot. In the early going Carrick, Scholes and Owen Hargreaves (making his first start) were bamboozling the City midfield. Beautiful, fluid movement saw Nani get his second chance but again Schmeichel was up to the task.

On 25 minutes, Nani produced the pass of the match with a perfect back heel thru ball which beat everyone and sent Evra thru unfortunately he couldn’t capitalize. And twice in the early going Micah Richards saved City as Tevez was thru on goal.

Soon after though, City began to settle to the pace and pressure of United’s quality and the game’s complexion began to even out. They started playing a high line, very risky, but it worked as the space was compressed for United to work and enabled City to press up field more quickly, keeping the United midfield on their toes.

Then, suddenly, and totally against the run of play City took the lead. It was a pass across the midfield which Geovanni struck well enough, and with a slight deflection off Vidic saw van der Sar beaten. For all the quality build up play, United were on the back foot from that point forward. It was only City’s second shot of the game and quite a while before they would get another.

You must credit Micah Richards for his brilliant display. What a defender, just top class in every category. He muzzled Carlos Tevez when it mattered. His finest moment was on 55 minutes when he cleared a low cross across the box when there were 2 United players ready to score. For all their effort from that point forward you could just see the belief drifting away. It showed in little ways like uncharacteristic concessions of possession and signals of frustration.

You must also credit Dieter Hamann for his intelligent drifts backwards allowing the defenders to avoid long balls and pass to him instead to steady the game. In general City did very well getting men back to protect their lead. United didn’t pressure Hamann, with Tevez the perfect player to do it and force City into the sort of long ball that would allow United to develop some pressure going forward.

United continued to have the majority of possession but United just couldn’t score despite some very close calls. How they missed Ronaldo and a striker which crashes the box.

For all of United’s 21 trophies since the Premier League was created, it was City’s day. Is there a crisis for United? Not yet, it’s more bad luck, Vidic hitting the post right after the half is proof of that. Was I wrong about City? It’s looking like I was, but for both teams, a few more games will tell the story better.

Regardless of crises, United have dug themselves quite a 5 point hole. It’s so hard to play comeback, especially in a Premier League which seems to have so much parody.

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Anonymous thrillhammer said...

nice one mate, thanks for the acknowledgement about city at the end. Ive got a lot of respect for people who admit they were wrong, good write up too.

8/20/2007 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was one of the most unfair results I ever saw in my 10+ years of watching football.. City did nothing the whole match.
I never liked united much, but they should have won easily.

8/20/2007 12:54 PM  
Anonymous thrillhammer said...

when keegan was in charge, we hammered endless sides including chelsea and ended up on the losing side, because? cloughie always said if you play superb, it doesnt mean nothing unless you can put the onion in the onion bag. We had to stop as far as possible to stop them getting shots on target by being defensive, otherwise a freshly formed team would have been taken to the cleaners by city, good tactics that could have backfired i know.

8/20/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous thrillhammer said...

taken to the cleaners by united sorry.

8/20/2007 6:11 PM  
Blogger Johnny Centreback said...

I still think that United are a better team and I think Sven knows that too. But I am very excited for the Premiership that we have Sven's brand of football. Flaws aside, City have players of great technique. And I prize that. They were great to watch. Particularly with Bojinov out now, Sven has to make even more shrewd purchases. He most definitely needs a keeper. Schmeichel was an absolute nightmare: on another day he might have given up five and today we would not be singing the praises of City's beautiful football...

8/21/2007 12:20 PM  

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