The Blues failure to turn up and give a side containing four mid to late thirty somethings a real game has left Planet Blue stunned and beyond let down…
Despite all the advice that the rags must be charged at from the off, warnings that a fourth place finish was far from guaranteed and the fact that this united side are far from the great team they once were, one of the most turgid Manchester derbies in memory was noteable for City’s almost total lack of urgency and seemingly negative tactical approach.
The City squad will this morning be waking up to the knowledge that their collective failure to maintain focus has been well and truly punished both in Manchester and in the league table.
City gaffer Roberto Mancini was left crestfallen but still pledging success after the 0-1 defeat:
‘Now we are disappointed and I am angry, because I know football very well and sometimes you don’t deserve to lose. If you don’t play well and you lose the game, that’s one thing. But when you play as well as the other team and have chances, and lose in the last seconds, you are very, very unlucky.
‘We have been very unlucky against united and I think we have improved from the last time we met them. I always want to win but sometimes it is not possible.
‘I am sorry for the supporters over this, but at the end of the season I think we will have a good gift for them – because I think we will get fourth position. Yes, it is damaging. But I still think that we will get fourth position because we have four games and the crucial game will probably be against Tottenham here.
‘We will keep trying – we have a good position and we now meet Arsenal, Tottenham and Aston Villa.’
Meanwhile, the relief with which the rags continue to greet their narrow defeats over City this season increasingly has the ring of a stay of execution as the gap continues to close. Hopelessly reliant on old stagers to hold his squad together against a backdrop of extreme future uncertainty following years of bossing the transfer market to repeated record extremes, for now Sir Alex Ferguson can gloat:
‘It was an amazing finish. We’ve three last-minute goals against them now this season but deserve it.
‘Derbies are derbies and the way we have won has given our supporters great excitement. To do it that way on City’s own ground is a great result for us.
‘We wanted to keep a clean sheet because we know if we get back to zero against it gives us a chance. One-nil wins have played a big part in our title wins and 1-0 today shows that’s true.’
Paul Scholes, despite his advancing years gave a lesson in keeping going to the end and had this to say of his winner in the last seconds:
‘I think we were the team pressing to try to score and fortunately we were lucky enough to win the game with not much time left. It’s nice to win any game against City, and away from home especially.’
Mancio must now regroup his squad and get them firing again against an Arsenal side who of late have been Chelsea-esque in their lack of cutting edge.
Here’s hoping that this weekend’s third lesson in staying focused until the final whistle will this time sink in to the City players mindsets.