Despite all the pre-match build-up, what was delivered to us last night was not what we expected. Spoiled to a degree last season by at times referee-assisted goals galore, it was somewhat disappointing for this season’s first City-United square-up to end so timidly.
Probably the most exciting feature of the night was would ticketless United fans get through the cordons or wouldn’t they? Definitely 1-0 City there. But what we then went on to see on the field was pretty poor stuff from a side costing £320million playing against the Nation’s Team.
There was the usual moron in the away end with a flare, happy to be congratulted by fellow half-wits but unhappy to be then arrested. But that highlight was pretty much the end of the highlights for the night.
Both teams opened up in cagey fashion, careful not to lose possession and leave the door open and not adventurous enough to create anything much going forward. Neither keeper saw much of the ball, as the midfields dominated moving the ball side-to-side rather than towards the opposition’s goal.
Chopper Scholes opened the night with the customary mistimed tackle on Milner that he has perfected over his years at Stretford and it was little surprise that by half time he was in the book and out of Saturday’s match after once again hacking down Milner. Poor ‘Little Scholesy’. He would probably have been dropped for that match anyway.
It was difficult to get excited about anything in the first half and I actually thought at one point the entire crowd had gone to sleep. Neither team made much progress with the line-ups and tactics more or less cancelling each other out. United’s ‘togetherness’ probably showed more than City’s team in porgress, but there is no doubt that on this performance City is closing in on United. Once we get consistency and togetherness we will be up there challenging. I suspect though, despite being unbeaten for some time in all competitions, we did not see a team last night that will be amongst the major homours at the end of the season. The League Cup might head back to Warwick Road, but I don’t see anything more serious heading that way.
The second half looked as though it might present us with something more exciting, but it didn’t. There were a couple of feigned injuries by the inevitable nanny-goat and a couple of more serious looking ones to Evra and that curly Brazilian, but City gained a draw with robust defending from almost the front, whilst any attempts to prise anything out of United’s back four struggled to materialise, despite them finishing the match with Brown and O’Shea as full backs. It was perhaps fitting that some of our literary colleagues give United’s best performances to Ferdinand and Vidic, which suggests that City did perhaps more attacking that Ferguson gave us credit for. Tevez free kick was just about the only thing that bothered Van der Sar all night, whilst I don’t recall Hart having to make anything that resembled a save.
So honours even on this one, and nothing to write home about. From the blue perspective we can take comfort from the fact that we didn’t let a goal in after stoppage time, didn’t let a goal in at all in fact, so their up-front threat was neutralised. We can however be disappointed that we didn’t press on and win. United were up for grabs and one suspects that if Balotelli would have been available there could have been a different outcome. We had the play maker in the shape of Silva.
Hard to dish out any major plaudits for this match though.
CITY AGAINST BIRMINGHAM ON VMC:
Head for the VMC Match Day Experience Forum for the build up and beyond to City’s mission to kick on at the top end of the table.