Date: 25th September 2013 at 9:20am
Written by:

The Manchester derby. A roller coaster of emotions with nervous butterflies, an inability to concentrate and the constant need to be distracted hours before the game being common complaints. The pressure, the tension and the knowledge of what you would face from gloating rags if defeated, the head in hands moments??and sometimes the utter euphoria. Like Sunday.

For a long time the derby had been a source of the worst possible emotions for City fans during ‘The Wilderness Years` with their fears being turned into a horrible living nightmare more often than not. For so many years the derby was a monster that lurked under the bed, a spectre that inhabited the dark places that City fans dreaded to venture because they had been so bruised by the experience in the past. Sunday`s emphatic win over the rags however showed City fans that there is no need to be fearful any more. The ‘monster` is retreating back beneath the slimy rocks whimpering, nursing its own bruises and throwing out the same old excuses as it shambles off into the darkness?.”It`s not fair. You`ve got better players than us. If only our saviour was fit. He`d help us. Please Robin. Help us. They wouldn`t let us play with the ball and Howard was no help at all. Our real derby is against Liverpool”. It has been revealed for what it really is – a pale shadow, a phantom of the mind. An ephemeral shade that cannot stand the light of day.

With this latest result, the margin of victory and the nature of the play City demonstrated in trampling all over their weak opponents, the derby ghosts are being exorcised and the healing of mental scars inflicted on City fans over the years continues apace.

What have been the milestones on this journey? How has the healing balm been administered? We have to look at some history first.

After City won the league in 1968 they didn`t lose a derby match for nigh on three years. That was a mark of the superiority of the magnificent Blues team built by the partnership of Mercer & Allison during that golden period. Then began the slow descent into the footballing wilderness and the years of pain for Sky Blue fans where derby days seemed to deliver hurt more often than pleasure Apart from a few moments, the Maine Road Massacre in 1989 for example, I remember it as a dark time.

The takeover at City has catapulted City and their fans into a whirlwind of success which has been bewildering to many of us older generation largely because of the unfamiliarity of the scenery. An FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League title win in 2012 have gone some considerable way to easing the hurt of the years of underachievement. But the derby still rankled. The derby still mattered to Sky Blues – clearly far more so than to every rag`s favourite scouser. For too long City had been the poor relation. However with Sunday`s win, City`s fourth defeat of the rags in the last five derbies, it felt to me like the achievement of another milestone in shoving those old derby day fears back into the shadows where they belong. What were the others?

9th November 2002. Shaun Goater`s double and Gary Neville`s embarrassment delivering City`s first win in a derby for thirteen years. A cathartic moment if ever there was one. I apologise to the fans of Harry Potter who I disturbed whilst tracking the result on my phone whilst in the cinema.

Next up, the wins under Sven Goran Erikson during the 2007-08 season. Geovanni`s strike at home, Vassell and Benjani scoring at The Swamp to mark the first derby double for thirty seven years. Thirty seven years. Blimey.

16th March 2011. City 1 United 0. FA Cup Semi Final. Vanquishing the rags at Wembley in a major cup competition. Magic. Absolutely magic.

The glorious double in the title winning season with the outrageous, incredible, unbelievable 1-6 scoreline at The Swamp and Vincent Kompany`s critical headed winner at the Etihad. Mancini facing off with Fergie. Magnificent.

And finally the excoriating 4-1 victory on Sunday making the rags look decidedly ordinary and delivering a fourth win for City in the last five league meetings.

In the preceding seven league meetings in the four seasons 2008-2010 City had won only one and lost the remainder. However taking the time frame out a bit longer back to the start of the 2002-03 season City and United have met eighteen times in all competitions. City have won eight times, United have won nine and there has been one draw. Parity it seems is being restored and the rags can no longer treat the Manchester derby as a joke. It is serious now and they aren`t laughing anymore. My rag brothers certainly weren`t on Sunday afternoon choosing instead to bury themselves after the game in the family ancestry research that they have going.

Now that is what I call retreating into the past if ever I saw it.

all times East Manchester BST

Sa 28 Sep 15h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park PL
We 2 Oct Bayern Munich, The Etihad, CLGS2
Sa 05 Oct 12h45 Everton, The Etihad PL
Sa 19 Oct 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park PL
We 23 Oct 17h00 CSKA Moscow, Arena Khimki CLGS3
Su 27 Oct 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge PL
Sa 02 Nov 15h00 GMT Norwich City, The Etihad PL
Tu 05 Nov 17h00 GMT CSKA Moscow, The Etihad CLGS4
Su 10 Nov 1405 GMT Sunderland, Stadium of Light PL
Su 24 Nov 13h30 GMT Spurs, The Etihad PL
We 27 Nov 19h45 GMT Viktoria Plzen, The Etihad CLGS5
Tu 01 Dec 16h10 GMT Swansea City, The Etihad PL
We 4 Dec 20h00 GMT West Brom, The Hawthorns PL

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