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Half and half scarves and a wasted chance.

James Milner scores for Manchester CityIf you were daft enough to think that the importance of tonight’s encounter was diluted by the 15-point gap that separated United and City before kick-off, feel free to take the night off and skip the netxt 600 or so words.

Despite all the talk of this being just “another game”, as United and City squared one another tonight, they both knew what was at stake. A last-gasp chance to retain the title, if you happen to be affected by Bluemonia, or an excellent opportunity to hammer the final nail in City’s coffin if you’re allegiances are coated in Red.

Twelve months ago, United and City faced each other on a Monday night and United’s attitude handed City the initiative and, ultimately, the Premier League title. Despite a line-up reading De Gea; Rafael, Rio, Jones, Evra; Young, Carrick, Giggs, Welbeck; Rooney, Van Persie, United fell into the same trap again tonight, as they set out to nullify City, rather than exploit their neighbours’ weaknesses.

A dull first half flew by, the only entertainment provided by the sight of wanna-be fans wearing half-and-half scarves. What is it with people desperately trying to endorse themselves to real fans by wearing those scarves? Those pieces of garments are bad enough during a normal game, worn at a derby they represent the equivalent of walking into a packed church waving a pack of condoms.

Scarves apart, United created almost nothing, apart from a Van Persie’s shot that fizzled wide of the post after eight minutes, until the stroke of half-time, when Rafael’s shot hit the upright after Carrick’s pass had been cushioned into the Brazilian’s path by Van Persie.

Six minutes into the second half and City were ahead, after Giggs’ back-heel pass was seized on by Gareth Barry and buried past David De Gea by James Milner, after Rafael had denied Nasri’s attempt. The fact that a player like James Milner could score in a game of such magnitude confirms that football is a funny old game, for how the former Leeds player keeps getting into this City team is a mystery likely to remain unsolved for a long time.

Six minutes later, United were level as Robin Van Persie’s free-kick looped over Joe Hart and against Phil Jones’ head before ricocheting against Vincent Kompany’s skull and into the back of the net. As Old Trafford erupted, the majority of fans would have expected United to go for the jugular and attack City, but the Reds retracted in their shell, inviting pressure from the Stockport brigade.

Ryan Giggs might have started his 37th Manchester derby today but it was hard to justify his inclusion as United, time and again, fell victim of Toure’s athleticism in the middle of the park. The Ivory Coast man was instrumental for his side with 78 minutes to go, as his pass found substitute Sergio Aguero who, after collecting his team-mate’s pass and stepping past Ferdinand and Jones, fired past David De Gea to give City a 2-1 lead.

United’s response was almost non-existent and City enjoyed their – deserved – second consecutive win at Old Trafford which brings them within 12 points of United. Undoubtedly, die hard Reds – the sort of fan who hasn’t attended a game in ages – and City fans will tell you that the title race is all but over anyway, but don’t believe them.

12 points clear, a team clearly far from its best form and last year’s ghost hanging over it all. Stoke away has suddenly become much more important than any of us would have liked it to be.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Racs

    April 8, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Shocking performance to be honest. How SAF thinks that Carrick and Giggs can compete against the players in City’s midfield is completely beyond me. Credit to City as they played the better football, controlled the majority of the game and deserved the win, end of.

    Can someone please explain to me in simple terms how the hell we resort to counter attacking football at home? It seems to me that we can’t dominate games any more and it feels that we have definitely taken a step backwards.

    I just really hope we spend some cash in the summer in order to strengthen our squad in the centre of the park and also on the wings because we really need to and I sincerely hope that SAF and the coaching staff have realised this. If they don’t i’d be amazed.

    With games against Chelsea at home, Stoke, Arsenal away, It seems to me that the clinching of the title will involve ALOT of squeaky bum time in the coming weeks and I just hope we wrap it up sooner rather than later.

    • The_Philosopher

      April 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

      @Racs: This broken record has been broken for years but: Yes we don’t have a good enough midfield.

      And Carrick and Giggs are not good enough in the middle to stand up to a Manchester City side.

      Sometimes Ferguson is too smart for his own good.

      We need world class midfielders #Broken Record

  2. Moscow

    April 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    As I predicted, City completely dominated our midfield which is no impossible task when it’s 5 against 2 with Giggs being one of them 🙄 They were able to cut our team to ribbons on more than one occasion and we were lucky they didn’t have a striker to put away the avalanche of crosses that came into our area.

    Aguero’s goal was class but what was really humiliating was that we played counter-attack football at home but didn’t even have the creativity to execute the rather cowardly gameplan. Kagawa on in the 2nd minute of stoppage time, what a joke.

    Is Welbeck on the left wing and Giggs in central midfield the best we can do? If PSG put in more than £30 million for Rooney then sell him.

    BUY A MIDFIE… you know what, why bother? This team is better than the class of ’99 apparently.

    • The_Philosopher

      April 9, 2013 at 8:34 am

      @Moscow: I think as fans we deserve better.

      We don’t ask for too much (even though we ask for a lot) but to just buy a good midfielder isn’t a big ask.

      Its just one player Ferguson. Just put up with one new player for midfield. Even if you don’t want him you can tolerate one good midfield player for the sake of the fans. Please Sir ALex!

  3. Moscow

    April 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Ferguson:

    “It wasn’t a bad performance by us, so I’m not disappointed in that respect. I’m disappointed with the goals we gave away.

    “I think we were unlucky to lose the game. But it is easy to see why these were the best two teams in the country – the evidence was there tonight.”

    🙄 🙄 🙄

    • The_Philosopher

      April 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

      @Moscow: But we’re better than City. If we just had a quality midfielder and a quality winger on the left we would have swept City aside.

      With the rubbish midfield we had out there they still could only just beat us. Imagine if we had a serious squad out there.

  4. tose

    April 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    replay to all of you ,its more or less the same what i was talking with my friends after the game

  5. ForeverRed

    April 9, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Let’s be grateful for our league position, but at the same time not fooled by it. When we have come up against teams with 2, 3 or more genuine world class players we have lost – Madrid, Chelsea, City the latest examples to point.

    In the PL those few teams that can boast such players have been their own worst enemies this season for varying reasons; fortunately we generally do not allow the egos or instability at Utd that are the cause of these other teams’ problems. Nevertheless, when these teams are truly up for it (usually against Utd), their best is invariably better than our best. At the end of the day, top quality players, playing in their best positions and working for each other will more often than not overcome a hardworking team with numerous square pegs in round holes, especially if it is slow to adapt or make tactical changes.

    To me our current position in the PL, and our relative failure in the cup competitions in the last few seasons is explained simply – good enough and resilient enough to finish there or there abouts in the league marathon (‘good’ use of the full squad), but not good enough to beat the best teams in a head to head. Besides lacking a couple of world class players, I think over-rotation is a large part of the issue when it comes to the big games. Players are not getting to play together enough, in their best positions, to gel as a team capable of performing better than the sum of the parts (which would also compensate partially for lack of individual quality). Paradoxically, rotation is a strategy that works for the league but actually hinders us when we come up against sides with better players and tactics. It also explains why so many of our performances lack fluency and cohesion.

    So ultimately, it comes down to what our goal as a club is. Is it to be one of the top 2 or 3 European sides, or to settle for being being a consistent performer in the second tier, with the hope we might get occasionally lucky? I have my own views on which strategy we currently have in place.

    • The_Philosopher

      April 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

      @ForeverRed: Whats your view? Please do share. I would be very interested to hear it.

      I would like to think that world domination is the name of the game.

      Yes when we come up against truely world class teams we founder.

      I love the way you put it top quality players playing in their best positions will beat hardworking square pegs in round holes.

      We need to add some players who can really pass and move. Van Persie is wasted on this midfield. They don’t supply him well enough. RVP is better than the service he is getting at the moment.

      I think its wrong for Ferguson to leave him un-aided like this. And expect him to pull a rabbit out of the hat week in week out all on his own.

      Imagine van Persie playing at Barca? Or Bayern. Or better yet Real Madrid? He would score even more goals than what he has done for us. And thats because those teams actually have functional midfields.

      And yes players are not given enough opportunity to build chemistry by playing week in and week out together. They are constantly rotated.

      If Anderson is never going to be used why do we have him in the squad? I hope he can get a run of games soon otherwise whats the point of paying someone so much money to warm the bench?

      • ForeverRed

        April 10, 2013 at 2:08 am

        @The_Philosopher: Ferguson has become very conservative and risk averse, manifested by his almost exclusive focus on the one thing he has learnt best how to win – the PL. He is the master of this and while City and Chelsea will improve, he will figure he can give them both a close run over 38 games, because he generally manages to eek out points against more of the mid and lower table teams where City and Chelsea are susceptible to throw away. And there are 30 or so such games a season. He has built his squad to reflect the attributes most needed for the league marathon, where resilience, consistency, self sacrifice, teamwork and unity are key.

        The champions league has a different set of needs, which if not at odds with those of the premier league, certainly place far more emphasis on technical ability, ball retention and tactical flexibility. The fact that we have come up short (sometimes alarmingly) since the narrow defeat of Chelsea in 2008 highlights our weaknesses in these attributes. Sadly, there is not a simple fix imo. Even if we were to bring in 2 world class midfielders this summer, I’m not convinced we’d play them in the right positions or set up tactically to get the best out of the team. And over-rotation would always rear its ugly head.

        Why do I say this ? Because we have currently somewhere in the region of 100M worth of players contributing minimally -for various reasons- to the current team (Anderson, Nani, Young, Kagawa, Valencia etc). None of that huge outlay has made a significant contribution to our season. You can add Berbatov, Tosic, Hargreaves to the list of high profile acquisitions that failed in the recent past. So sadly, I have diminished confidence in the current scouts’ and management teams’ ability to select and develop/integrate players of the calibre that will win us the Champions League again. Fergie has been burnt by these failures – especially in midfield – resulting in indecisiveness, while using excuses such as ‘no value in the market’ and Scholes and Giggs can play on, etc to hide the true situation. And no, I don’t believe this is fundamentally lack of money to spend.

        So to answer your question Philosopher, sadly, I think Fergie has lost much of the adventure and risk-taking that has characterized the exciting football of the majority of his tenure, and is now settling for a safety first approach by focusing on what he knows best – the Premier League.

        • Moscow

          April 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

          @ForeverRed: Superb post.

        • The_Philosopher

          April 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

          @ForeverRed: Yes indeed.
          True superb post.

          Great insight.

  6. Redrich

    April 9, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Predictable, yes and yes again!!
    Madness is described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
    Same mediocre players, same negative tactics = same result against a quality team!!

    Keep believing friends, I admire your blindness, whoops, should I say loyalty. You can keep talking about some magical aura that makes us better than anyone else. But in truth, United have a shit squad of players and a legend of a manager. The legend is riding his luck and his rep – it will not, and is not going to last for ever.

    This is a game played by players that have very different levels of skill. Better players have better skills, hence, in the end, they will beat those with inferior skills. Today’s game was a horrible illustration of where we stand in the skill level.

    The magical aura has spent its brownie points.

    United will win the league regardless of this loss, and some of us may say we’re champions. You should go to bed tonight with the comfortable feeling that you will celebrate in May – take a pill with you though, because you will wake in a cold sweat.

    • The_Philosopher

      April 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

      @Redrich: Yeah when Ferguson steps down we are gonna be in big trouble with the current squad we got.

      I always wonder what it must be like to be an Arsenal fan or a Chelsea fan. Having a goodish team but never achieving anything.

      We have a crap-ish team and we achieve everything. Party’s over when Ferguson steps down though.

      We have to get in more quality players.

  7. Redrich

    April 9, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Playing at home, 15 points ahead, a chance to make it impossible for the second place team get back at us – and what do we do – throw the op away.
    Well we didn’t actually gift it to them but we did show ourselves up as an inferior squad of players.
    Giggs, who has been decent for a couple of months, tried a cute back heel defending in his own half, and wow, it didn’t work out. Desperate measures evolve from desperate tactics. Keeping the ball, or keeping it away form the opposition, is a desperate measure and it’s now a measured tactic in our game plan.

    So the scene is set – we will limp across the line in a fashion befitting a gimpy marathoner. We will get the kudos for actually finishing and for getting there ahead of citeh, but the rest of the field are closing in and their charge will become what the rest of the season defines.

  8. Stephen

    April 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Playing a 40 year old winger in midfield against Toure, Silva and Barry is madness. Again playing a striker who cannot cross or score goals out wide is also bizarre. Fergie needs to stop being stubborn, buy 2 quality midfield players and look at his system. Getting the ball out wide and slinging in crosses is archaic, we need to evolve. We are so far ahead simply because he has rotated his squad well, not because of the quality of it. He said the squad was better tan 99, which he is right. But since the Real game for me he has made mistakes. I will say Phil Jones was magnificent, he has taken some unfair criticism here and it was deserved, he will be one of the best centre half’s in the Country.Fergie needs to get some fresh ideas, get rid of the Yes men and look outside the box, but a man of his age to adapt and change his footballing principles will be hard.

    • The_Philosopher

      April 9, 2013 at 10:07 am

      @Stephen: Yes playing Ryan Giggs against some of the best in the business is ludacris.

      And it is deeply disrespectful to City. Ryan Giggs could have 100years experience but that still wouldn’t do anything to change the fact that he just cut compete on an energy level with these guys. So why do it? Madness.

      The truely quality performers in our squad righ now are: RVP, Rooney, Chicha, Carrick, Jones, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, De Gea and Evra. The rest are all suspect.

      When I say quality I mean they are bankable. You put them on the pitch and they will deliver.

      Its getting more difficult to be a Ferguson supporter right now. He is making more withdrawls on his reputation than deposits now days.

      • Stephen

        April 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm

        @The_Philosopher:

        In fairness, he is still 12 points clear, with an average side, his reputation is absolutely fine. He has too much faith in Giggs, or simply doesn’t rate Cleverley and the less said about the fat uselss Anderson the better.

        • tonymontanna4united

          April 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm

          @Stephen: The question needs to be asked then, why does he settle for an average side year in year out?

  9. The_Philosopher

    April 9, 2013 at 10:10 am

    The stage is now truely set for next season

    Next season is going to be a cracker!

    City won’t give it to us this easy again.

    And Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton are going to want to get in the mix as well.

    Next season is going to be dramatic. We going to have to chase after the title very hard.

    • Stephen

      April 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      @The_Philosopher: Mate, we havn’t won this one yet……

      • toshe

        April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm

        one of the positiv things in this defeat is players like welbeck,jones ,rafael will get a massive experience boost ,what they can carry with them for the next years…i hope rafael will learn that the game lasts 90 minutes only .cos he acts sometimes like the game lasts 4 hours ,and the first 30-40 minutes you can throw away,or just experiment with the chances you got,,so does welbeck..

    • Opti

      April 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      @The_Philosopher: Everton cannot compete and Tottenham is a selling club. Liverpool cannot catch up either…

      New Top Four: United, City, Chelsea, Arsenal. Tottenham is just tottenham and Liverpool is the new Everton. Everton is old Aston Villa, close but never there.

    • Moscow

      April 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      @The_Philosopher: For a philosopher, you sure are excitable! 😆

      • The_Philosopher

        April 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

        @Moscow: I got ADD mate. I can’t concentrate to save my life.

        You strike me as a every technically gifted person. Your mind is sharp and cutting.

        You must be an engineer or and analyst or a docter or something.

        But you’re analytical. Probably good at maths too. (I suck at math)

        Am I right?

        • Moscow

          April 10, 2013 at 9:57 am

          @The_Philosopher: Hahaha thanks mate, I’m just your typical spoilt United fan 😀 I enjoy reading your comments, keep it up 🙂

  10. johnsom33

    April 10, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Fun fact from red Cafe

    >Our last 7 Premier League defeats (stretching back to January 2012) in 6 of those 7 games we have started either Scholes or Giggs in a two man central midfield. And in the other we played both and Park (City last season)

    Newcastle 0-3 – Carrick/Giggs
    Wigan 0-1 – Carrick/Giggs
    City 0-1 – Carrick/Scholes/Giggs
    Everton 0-1 – Cleverley/Scholes
    Spurs 2-3 – Carrick/Scholes/Giggs
    Norwich 0-1 – Carrick/Giggs
    City 1-2 – Carrick/Giggs

    This automatically also means that we haven’t lost a PL game starting Carrick with Jones/Cleverley or Anderson in that same period.

    The problem is Fergies illogical faith in the old guys. There is a reason I groan everytime I see one of them on the team sheet. To make matters worse I have to come on here and read comments about our team being substandard and that we have no midfield. We do have a midfield fergie just wont use it. He has Kagawa, Asian player of the year, first choice for Dortmund and one of their best playmakers. Yet somehow fergie rates Giggs over him. We HAD Pogba, but again fergie wouldnt fucking play him. This shit seriously pisses me off because anyone who voices concerns like mine is deemed a plastic and not showing respect.

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