Manchester United 4- 3 Manchester City
IN ASSOCIATION WITH ecuadorrosie (click for details)
GOALS:Rooney 2 mins, Barry 16 mins, Fletcher 48 mins, Bellamy 52 mins, Fletcher 80 mins, Bellamy 90 mins, Owen 95 mins
United: Foster, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Park, Fletcher, Anderson, Giggs; Rooney, Berbatov
Subs: Valencia for Park, Carrick for Anderson, Owen for Berbatov
City: Given, Richards, Lescott, Toure, Bridge, Ireland, De Jong, Barry; Wright-Phillips, Bellamy, Tevez
Subs: Petrov for De Jong
” Single handedly the best game at Old Trafford since the Barcelona European Semi Final. The first time I’ve seen professional, world class players (and Craig Bellamy) play Next Goal Wins rules!”
THE Manchester Derby. The derby match is a footballing weirdo. It’s friendly and it’s heated in equal measures. Red and blue fans walking towards the Theatre of Dreams before the match together, knew for a fact that they would be singing songs and throwing the insults at each other until the final whistle (maybe after). This is a very very touchy derby. Matches against Liverpool and Arsenal may appear to mean more for the Sky camera or whatever but trust me when I say this is still a very very big deal. Losses to Arsenal and Liverpool can be (not easily) forgotten because at the end of the day both of those are from a different city. Citeh fans are everywhere, they work alongside you in the office and if you lose you have to watch them put the Man City calendar up. It’s the reason you’re unlikely to hear an Oasis song at OT, why when the Gallaghers’ were told they couldn’t play at Eastlands on this tour but were offered Old Trafford, they went for Heaton Park… it’s why a baby cousin shakes his head in disappointment every time he see’s that sky blue car on the drive! And this is even before we get down to football…It’s all people in the city were talking about, the hotel receptionist had to “make sure” that he was dealing with a fellow red, before he’d take my bags for me.
Some people will not understand. Derby days up and down the country divide each city in ways that are both universal and unique to that part of the world. It may well be just a game, but that just is monumental.
Let’s get it straight. This was one of the greatest derby matches ever. It was that good. Rio Ferdinand was back as was Darren Fletcher. Carlos Tevez was predictably and rightly, booed and United started like a train. Micah Richards went to sleep, Evra did well and Wayne Rooney did well to get through the City defence such as it was. The perfect start and a celebration from Rooney that let everyone know he and the rest of the team knew how big this game was.
Ben Foster could have and should have done better, he can hang his head for not booting the ball out. Tevez was buzzing around purely on the off chance that Foster might not be in full control of the ball, which was exactly the case. It was exactly that characteristic that made him in his past life, a United player and helped many a United fan take him to their hearts. The never say die spirit that kept Tevez running in red, now saw him profit in blue, slide the ball across to Barry who couldn’t really miss. 1-1. One other thing on him, Carlos knew exactly what he was doing walking off at half time with his arm around Patrice Evra, Evra looked happy about it didn’t he? It’s the opposite end to where I sit so I didn’t see until later but someone in the Stretford End appeared to have thrown something that hit a City sub, not something we like to see or condone.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the rest of the match was about players who divide opinion. Darren Fletcher for example has got the odd United fan that would rather he wasn’t in the team. But he did well for his goals and while we are throwing credit around like confetti… Craig Bellamy’s first goal was absolute class. There was not a thing that Benjamin could have done. There WAS however, something that could have been done about the second equaliser, Rio Ferdinand clearly just wanting to run the clock down was a very silly boy and doesn’t need anyone to tell him that. Having been gifted the ball, that boy Bellamy still had to do the work and should be again applauded.
That goal sparked seemingly endless celebrations from a team that now believe themselves on equal par with the best in the league, but how ill-advised those celebrations must seem now. Reports after the game claimed that Michael Owen is now an instant hero at Old Trafford following his (late) winner. I would like to go on record and claim that he is not. We have had our fingers burnt in the ‘instant hero’ department before and I’d like to think that the United faithful are now a bit more cautious in their hero worshipping. That being said, it was an excellent finish and such a good way to finish the best game at OT I’ve seen in a while. The cautious approach to Owen is mirrored by a fan who hit the Owen nail on the head when they said “Let’s have no more of that Tevez style love affair stuff. Owen’s still a little shit, his history isn’t completely wiped out. But now, he’s our little shit!”
In the interests of balance we should also point out that, in the words of Liam Gallagher (after City’s European game a few weeks back)…Shay Given: Biblical. He pulled off some class saves to deny our boys, and continues to prove that he is a class ‘keeper. Elsewhere City seem to have copyrighted the knack of taking seperately class defenders (Lescott, Toure) and moulding them into part of a back four with not a clue between them. Before the e-mail pours in, yes ours was just as bad.
Great stuff. Great game and for what it’s worth, the correct amount of extra time played as well. GtS