I could have sworn that I’d seen this happen before with United – big occasion, history, time and location supporting us, and then everything just went tits up as players refused to play according to script.
First up, credit to Manchester City, to the fans for their respect of the one-minute silence, to Sven Goran Eriksson for his tactics, for Richard Dunne and Nedum Onuha for their defending, for Martin Petrov and Benjani Mwaruwari for their attacking play, for Dietmar Hamann for his irritating but effective display as a holding midfielder, and to Joe Hart for his keeping, especially in the second half with the sunlight shining brightly in his eyes. Well played, City.
And now, to United.
Lots of people will have scathing comments – maybe about the players, maybe about the team selection. I’m sure Scott and RR will have their say on this, and expect Anthony to chime in as well, considering that this is a big win for City.
The United players were a bit off mentally and although the game opened up and they attacked more after the first goal, they weren’t able to break City down (in time, considering Carrick’s injury time goal).
Was it because of all the attention and press about Munich 1958? I said on Wednesday that neither Capello nor Ferguson could afford to let their players get caught up in the occasion, but all that we heard coming out of Manchester United was players talking about the Busby Babes and whether City fans would behave or not. Bottom line, United were always in danger of getting distracted and when they did get distracted, City were on hand to step up and take the 3 points.
It’s easy to second-guess Ferguson and blame him for not starting with Carrick / Hargreaves in the center alongside Anderson / Scholes, and keeping Nani on the bench as an impact player. That’s what I would have done, but hindsight’s 20/20 and the Scholes / Anderson combo has worked well for us in the past, there was no reason for it not to work well if the players had done what was expected of them.
Chelsea will probably beat Liverpool and Arsenal will probably tomorrow, but that’s out of our hands. Fergie needs to whip the players into shape in to play Arsenal and Lyon in the next 10 days. I hope he gives them the hairdryer treatment, and for United’s sake, I hope this is the last time we need to bring on two central midfielders in the second half to help us win when we’re 2 goals down.