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Manchester's derby decision day

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Phil McNulty | 09:45 UK time, Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Stretford End demanded a wave and Sir Alex Ferguson gave them a clenched fist. Manchester United led Everton 4-2 with time running out and the Premier League title was in sight.

Ferguson felt so relaxed he even felt able to joke and joust on the touchline with his old foe the fourth official, this time in the shape of Kevin Friend. What happened in the ensuing minutes last Sunday lunchtime proved to be no laughing matter for United's manager.

Everton mounted a late comeback to snatch two points away from the reigning champions, giving Manchester City even greater incentive to subsequently beat Wolves and set up the match of the season at Etihad Stadium on Monday.

Ferguson's switch in emotions in those final moments were a graphic illustration of the mood swings that have transformed the meeting between City and United from potential dead rubber to the season's decisive moment inside the space of three weeks.

Ryan Giggs and Gareth Barry

United and City will battle it out for the title on Monday. Photo: Getty

The Scot admits you would have to be "a confirmed masochist" to enjoy an occasion of such tension and footballing stresses but this is what everyone inside Etihad Stadium on Monday will be braced for.

In their darker moods City may have had painful visions of forming a guard of honour for a United side with the title already confirmed - now they have the opportunity to take a giant stride towards their first title since 1967-68.

When City's coach drove through the tunnels under Emirates Stadium and out into north London after Mikel Arteta's late goal had condemned them to a 1-0 defeat earlier this month, it was accompanied by a pall of gloom.

Manager Roberto Mancini declared the title race was over, with rather more conviction than he has done since United lost at Wigan and drew with Everton, and the main item on the agenda was the fall-out from another madcap Mario Balotelli performance that earned him a red card.

The shackles that seemed to restrict City as the pressure grew were suddenly released, as was Carlos Tevez from a place on the bench. The former freedom returned. West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City were thrashed and Wolves beaten and relegated. Twelve goals scored and only one conceded.

It was as if the resignation of feeling the title had gone had cleared City's heads. Maybe they felt this meant there was nothing more to lose. Whatever the motivation, they suddenly find themselves masters of their own destiny once more with three games left.

Since that loss at Arsenal, an eight-point deficit has been reduced to three points courtesy of an uncharacteristic United wobble and the renewal of City's form and confidence.

So, in the white heat of derby battle against United on Monday, will the jitters that undermined them a few weeks ago return, or will City's minds be concentrated by the presentation of this unlikely lifeline by United?

It is a huge test of nerve and one that intrigues former Manchester City defender Andy Hinchcliffe as he told me: "City looked tired, short of ideas but that Arsenal game seems to have liberated them in a strange way. It seemed at that point, whether it was because the players and manager had accepted the title was beyond them, that they found freedom again.

"They did get nervous when they were top of the league and slipped up badly losing at Everton and Swansea and drawing with Stoke City before they lost at Arsenal. Now they are in a very strong position again.

"They go back to the top of the league with a win but now it is a question of whether it will prey on their minds again. They have got wonderful players who have been successful in other countries but winning the Premier League is different to winning titles in other countries.

"Will they now get nervous again or will they be inspired by the chance United have given them?"

Ferguson's side, for all their recent stumbles, still hold the upper hand. The draw is a result more suited to United, while the Scot also knows City have that increasingly hazardous visit to Newcastle United to negotiate.

But he accepts this derby fixture will play an increasingly pivotal role in the destination of the Premier League title after admitting City "are not going away."

Praise indeed from the man who once labelled them "the noisy neighbours" - but he will want to silence them in their own home on Monday.

Mancini will look to his attack to provide the impetus with Sergio Aguero back to his best aided by the return from exile of fellow Argentine Tevez and the formation of a potent partnership that has been central to their revival. Mario Balotelli could yet figure as well.

Ferguson, meanwhile, will demand an improvement on a defensive showing that was ragged at the edges and over-generous in a draw against Everton that United might live to regret if they cannot put matters right at City.

He was philosophical about the timing and importance of the fixture which United themselves have managed to give greater significance by their own slips that cost them points and allowed City to eat into what, at one point, seemed an impregnable advantage.

"We have played them three times this season in the Charity Shield, the FA Cup and the 6-1 defeat in the league at Old Trafford," said Ferguson, "but it doesn't matter what has happened before - the build-up to the game, who has dropped points and who hasn't dropped points, it really is all down to this game.

"I suppose when the fixtures came out at the beginning of the season, all roads pointed to this game."

And Monday at Etihad Stadium will go a long way to deciding whether it is Manchester City or Manchester United en route to the Premier League title.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    stoke fans booing ramsey, what a surprise.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not exactly a huge amount to debate here. All I have to offer is the statement that I doubt I'll even be able to watch this game out of all-encompassing spine-shattering nerves! I'll have the old "it's just a game" ready if united lose at least.

  • Comment number 3.

    Heady combination of nerves, anticipation and excitement here.

    The big question is attack or defend. I certainly don't think we could be comfortable going fo a draw; it's simply not the United way. However, I do believe that this will make this game extremely open and I can see a lot of goals in this one.

    Citeh NEED a win. We always play to win.

    I think I might need to pull out the spare underpants. Squeaky bum time is almost here haha

    COME ON UNITED!!!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    As a neutral, it is great to see the title race still alive. My feeling is that experience will tell and Utd will not lose. My crystal ball says 1-1.

  • Comment number 5.

    2.
    At 10:19 29th Apr 2012, tappy wrote:


    Not exactly a huge amount to debate here. All I have to offer is the statement that I doubt I'll even be able to watch this game out of all-encompassing spine-shattering nerves! I'll have the old "it's just a game" ready if united lose at least.

    -----------------------------------------


    Couldn't agree more; certainly ain't going to be comfortable. Can't even hazard a guess at the outcome but I think I'll have to dust off the old "book of excuses" should we throw this one away hahaha :)

  • Comment number 6.

    Sometimes I don't know what to say about Mancini, I mean when they lost 1-0 to Arsenal he said it wasn't over but when they won 4-0 he said it was over. I have to say if Man U had won against Everton it would have been over by now.

    But in the nutshell, Man C could really use some of Wigan's confidence right now, but as it stands:

    GLORY GLORY MAN UNITED!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    The derby is not going to be the decider. United have two games to follow against teams whose season is already over, guaranteed six points. City have to play teams that are still fighting, Newcastle need to get third or they won't get CL football if Chelsea win it this season and QPR are fighting for survival and in great form. City will probably win the derby and then lose the remaining games. Tevez has cost City the title.

  • Comment number 8.

    The nerves that flow through my veins for this game are as bad as any i can remember!! I have complete faith in Lord Alex to tactically outdo Mancini and with Valencia on the kind of form he is showing, our supply lines should be ok. As said by another reader, ill hav a spare pair of pants ready while watching this game. COME ON UNITED!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    There is no way that United are going to lose. Experience is key, and so is the will to win, and united have truck loads of that. United fans needn't worry just yet. 2 and 5, I don't think you'll need to take the book out of the shelf for this one.

  • Comment number 10.

    United are getting found out at last.

    I said at the start City would win the title and I think they will by a couple of points.

  • Comment number 11.

    @Phil McNulty
    Why do you think the Manchester Derby will be decided by Manchester United's defence? With Rooney, Valencia, Nani and Welbeck in attack, I don't think you'd be right to write us off. To me, this derby has a draw written all over it. 1-1 or maybe 2-2 if the keepers are generous enough. The title will be decided next weekend, depending on how both Manchester clubs respond to tomorrow's game.

  • Comment number 12.

    I wonder if Young will be wearing his glass slippers for this one...

  • Comment number 13.

    City must be favorites at home, Utd have got a aging midfield and in Rio and Jonny Evans lack concentration at vital times.

    I don't know why SAF sticks with Rafael, he's another one who could lose you the game quite easily.

    Rooney is the only world class player in the Utd team, Scholes and Giggs were in their time, but no longer.

    I think SAF must play the same team as last Sunday, but playing a 4-5-1 formation and hope not to concede.

    I think Balotelli could be the difference in the two teams, Evans and Rio don't like playing against big strikers, because like last week they aren't physically strong enough, or is it mentally strong enough (Got bullied last Sunday) and looked intimidated.

    I think this game could go two ways, 1) City score early and go on to win comfortably, 2) Utd, defend and hit City on the break for a narrow win or a draw.

    Who knows the outcome, but City are certainly favorites playing at home if SAF likes it or not.

    Lets be fair SAF have done brilliantly with the players he got, 5th in the PL this season would have been a good achievement, considering the amount of money the other top teams spent in comparison.

    But SAF failed big time away to Wigan, Everton was always going to be tough, with the amount of Ex Utd players playing for Everton.

    If City win tomorrow then the title is theirs, as they will steam roller Newcastle, but depending on how results go, they could find the QPR game a long one, if QPR need a point to stay up, but class will tell and they will win that one.

    My head says City but my heart say Utd, so there it is all to play for!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    What of after all these hype and it turns out to be the most boring game of the season and ends 0-0?

  • Comment number 15.

    My honest opinion is a United win by 1 goal.

  • Comment number 16.

    @14

    Maybe United will do a 'Chelsea' and hang like bats from the crossbar, then score from a hoofball.

    First goal is everything in these games, but United look really vulnerable, so I'm going for a City win.

  • Comment number 17.

    A 1-0 away win will be definitely greater and sweeter than the 6-1 reverse in October. Come On You Reds!!

  • Comment number 18.

    I can see City winning this one. But I still don't think it will decide the title. This will go to the very end. A great title race this year. Hope its a great game and it doesn't turn into a boring tight encounter.

    http://playwithflair.com/2012/04/28/johan-cruyff-and-pep-guardiola/

  • Comment number 19.

    Also: It's only the title decider if we (United) win. I have no doubts we'll get at least 1 point from the other 2 remaining games. A draw or a City win leaves the whole thing wide open! Can't see City having an easy ride at Newcastle nor us at Sunderland.

  • Comment number 20.

    As he approaches his fifties, Peter Schmeichel is looking more and more like Edwin Van der Sar!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/17877521

  • Comment number 21.

    On the one hand, United have hit an uncharacteristic end of season wobble. It would not surprise me if United fall apart and do not win another game this season. On the other hand, I think City have hit form again at exactly the right time to take the game to United and to take the title from them. I think City will not drop another point this season, and so will win the EPL.

  • Comment number 22.

    @21

    Totally agree - and it all started when SAF came out with his 'our title preparations are perfect' statement.

  • Comment number 23.

    21:-
    I think even if United lose tomorrow night we will be able to steady the ship with a home game against Swansea who have nothing to play for & also the trip to Sunderland likewise.
    City, on the other hand, have to play Newcastle, away, who will be scrapping to the death for that final CL place, then QPR, fighting for survival. It won't be over unless United win tomorrow.

  • Comment number 24.

    No doubt you'll be there Phil plus about another 30 BBC employees but, no live TV broadcast from any of you. Building up big games on BBC sites is tantamount to fraud. You enjoy the game live Phil.
    I'll watch it on Sky with the sound down so I don't have to listen to any of the c**p from Sky or BBC commentators.
    "This is the 147th Manchester derby and City have never won on a Monday night in April." or more likely, "This is the first Manchester derby in Premier League history that ..................whatever because of course top division football never existed before 1992, or that's how it seems.
    I'm sick of hearing about historical Premier League stats, seriously, it's not funny.

  • Comment number 25.

    Talk about hedging your bets in the build up to the Manchester derby !

    On the BBC there is an article on attack being the key , a blog on the midfield battle being the key , and another blog on defence being the key.

  • Comment number 26.

    And ITV commentators with that biased united fan Tyldesley

  • Comment number 27.

    glenn-quagmire - you certainly chose the right user name....miserable stick in the mud!

  • Comment number 28.

    @dogeared

    You are as nervous,desperate,confused and totally lost as your team's manager.

  • Comment number 29.

    Should man city lose the title race, a massive clear out and a new eleven next season.Should manu lose the title race i dont see a clear out. Thats the difference between a team building for the future and a team trying to buy the title.

  • Comment number 30.

    PHIL

    As I posted elsewhere, Citeh have the best home defensive record in the Prem by a margin, Utd. ditto away.

    0-0 or 1-1 rather stares out at you from that. No reason Citeh can't win it & win the League, or win & still lose the League, because their last 2 fixtures are not only against teams with something to play for, QPR just happened to be managed by ex-Utd.legend Sparky, who als happens to be the man Citeh sacked to get Mancini in.

    Now THAT could be the twist to end them all!

    Whatever happens, Fergie will need to rebuild in the summer, because there are people we need to move on and who age has caught up with as this season's progressed-Evra & maybe Giggs, but who knows, maybe Citeh will feel the need to improve regardless as well.

    No predictions from me-I never have done, just to reiterate those stats & that Citeh conceded 5 of the 10 home in just 2 games, we conceded 6 of the 14 away in just 2 hits, plus most of our other defensive debacles have been at OT, not away, and most of Citeh's & our highest wins have been away, strange as it may seem.

  • Comment number 31.

    Huge game and nerves could play a part. What chance a sending-off or controversial penalty?

    Hard to say that Utd have had a 'blip'. Look at the carnage Wigan are creating, winning at The Emirates and beating the 'form' team Newcastle 4-0. And Everton have been on a hugely impressive run also, putting 4 past Fulham in their latest feat. Utd got 2 teams probably playing the best they have been all season but that's the way it goes.

    How will Fergie line his team up? Surely he has to drop Rafael and put either Jones or Smalling at RB. Does he go with 4-4-2 or would he be better to play Jones as an extra midfielder and go with just 1 striker or even 2 strikers and Valencia with Welbeck covering the left flank?

    The danger with 4-4-2 is that the midfield lose the battle, as happened against Everton. Impossible to chose and I'm glad it's in Fergie's capable hands.

    A Utd loss does not mean it's over but I can't see City slipping-up if they go top. Newcastle will be a test but, ominously, they just got rolled 4-0 and could end the season badly. Regardless of what QPR have at stake there's no way City won't win that game if they need to.

    As a fan of football I just think it will be a shameful sight if we have to witness Tevez celebrating a City title win. If ever a player didn't deserve it it's him. The guy's a disgrace to football and an insult to all true fans of the game.

  • Comment number 32.

    I've had to pull out.

    Damaged my Back in training.

  • Comment number 33.

    I will be watching the game, and as usual will be giving my full support to the team in opposition to united, read into that what you will.

    However my concern is that come the end of the game the debate will not be about the game itself, but dodgy officials, we saw one in action yesterday stoke vs Arsenal
    ( and i am not referring to the blatant penalty not given ) his performance was woeful.

  • Comment number 34.

    @29

    Are you trying to tell us that Man United don't sign players for vast sums?

    There won't be a clear out at Man United either way - basically half their squad will retire, saving Ferguson the job.

    When that happens we will see who spends more in the summer.

  • Comment number 35.

    As a neutral i'm really looking forward to this game i just hope the men in black don't ruin what should be a classic encounter. Also what utter crap some people talk (mankini included) when they say/suggest that swansea have nothing to play for, don't people realise that the higher you finish up the league the more revenue you get from the premier league at the end of the season!

  • Comment number 36.

    @33

    That Benayoun dive would almost rival any of Young's - the difference is he didn't get it. Must try harder.

  • Comment number 37.

    @32 - Couldn't agree more about Tevez. No doubt he's hugely talented, but the way he's treated both United and City is shameful.

    Tomorrow will go one of two ways. Either City will romp all over United, or United will hold on, fight like beavers and score a late winner/equaliser. My heart says the latter, my head the former, and there's no telling which. City are back on form, but there will be nerves in the squad. Even though a lot of their players have won titles (including the EPL) before, facing your first big win as a unit will always be the big test. If United go to the Etihad with a not-losing mindset, rather than a 'we have to win' mentality, they should be ok.

    I'll be surprised if there isn't at least one sending-off/controversial penalty though, particularly if Balotelli and Young play

  • Comment number 38.

    @31 rather

  • Comment number 39.

    Always delighted to see the Arsenal and Liverpool fans on these blogs like the poor kids at Christmas with their noses pressed up against the shop window in wonder as they watch those inside taking the prizes they so covet. Unfortunately, the experience just leads to bitterness and, unfortunatly, the only one that bitterness really affects is the one who harbours it.

    Dogeared and the Charade character should take note. Sad to be on the outside looking in!

  • Comment number 40.

    I'll be there tomorrow night with the other two and a half thousand reds and I confess to already being a bag of nerves and not knowing what to expect. This is not your typical Ferguson/United side because there have been times this season when we have gone in to games needing not to lose but have failed, the Champions League and Europa League confirms that. I can't predict a score or an outcome but what I can categorically confirm is that tomorrow night will be emotional and I'll either be on cloud nine and ecstatic or I'll be gutted and end up being scraped off the terraces by the stewards at the Etihad.

  • Comment number 41.

    @39

    how do you equate bitterness with fact I don't like united ?

    or did you just make it up.

    Take note, others opinions do not always have to coincide with yours for them to be justifiable or valid.

    thats the problem with many of you united supporters your heads are far to up your own backsides.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am a Liverpool and Celtic Supporter, but on this occasion I say let the best teem win.

    My gut feeling is that City will glinch it against all odds as they have everything to play for and nothing to lose or prove anymore.

  • Comment number 43.

    40. At 12:08 29th Apr 2012, Damien Druce wrote:

    I hope it's the former! I can't decide what team Fergie should go with. Thoughts?

  • Comment number 44.

    I meant team.

  • Comment number 45.

    41. At 12:16 29th Apr 2012, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    Pathetic attempt at a response. What's it actually like being on the outside looking in then?

  • Comment number 46.

    #44

    But did you also mean Grinch & not glinch?

    If so, which Grinch is going to steal the Title :)

  • Comment number 47.

    One thing in Uniteds' favour is the availability of Balotelli & the fact that Mancini is considering playing him. It's probably the biggest stage this season short of the CL final & the bigger the stage, the more Balotelli loves to show himself up. The United players are bound to wind him up. Sending of for sure if he plays!

  • Comment number 48.

    Sport and football in particular is a lottery at the very best of times, and take your concentration off the ball for one split second and the game can suddenly change.

    This Derby is rather too close to call and anything can happen on the night, but City have the psychological advantage of playing at home along with slightly deeper pockets to afford some of the very best players.

    But at the end of the day it is just sport and a game where there can only be one winner to emerge.

  • Comment number 49.

    @43 I think he should play 4-5-1 with the following:

    De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Rooney, Valencia, Nani, Welbeck

    It gives us pace in Nani and Valencia, additional height in Smalling, intelligence in Scholes, strength in Welbeck and last but not least a match winner in Wazza. I can see Giggs playing a part from the bench and maybe Young too.

  • Comment number 50.

    @45

    the airs fresher for starters.

  • Comment number 51.

    49. At 12:27 29th Apr 2012, Damien Druce wrote:

    Can't argue with that line-up but the worry would be if City outnumber us in midfield. If we go for 4-4-2 we need Nani and Valencia on top form with Welbeck and Rooney working their socks off and coming deep to help out the midfield.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well...this season's gone from City looking impossible to beat to United taking over and now...what? Quite frankly I'd settle for a draw at this point given that it would at least mean that we'd still be top of the league. A win would be awesome and a defeat would be 'real' squeaky bum time!

    Let's see what happens.

  • Comment number 53.

    I think the most depressing thing is the tired old cliches that seem to come out at this time of year some are evident in other posts.

    "Man Utd always finish strongly"
    Not true actually. The past three seasons they've had big leads eroded by the teams behind them and it's happened again this season. They've been caught before including two seasons ago by Chelsea when even a draw against them at home would have seen them win the title. Their current form going into this is 1 win in 3, hardly championship form and any other team and you would call it a wobble.

    "Man City have the best home record"
    True but they haven't played the team with the best away record and you get the same points for a win home and away meaning it counts for nothing if you aren't top at the end of the season. Remember Man City need to win realistically to have even a chance.

    "Man Utd know how to win the big games" again not true. This season has seen them perform much better against the bigger teams in England (City result apart) but Chelsea and Arsenal have beaten them in title deciders before and it's perfectly possible it will happen again. At 4-2 up against Everton the title was as good as theirs and they choked. They now need to stop City winning in order to make up for this.

    "Man Utd always play to win". You obviously never watched the game at the Etihad between these two teams in 2010 which was perhaps the dullest and most negative game in the PRemier League that season. Mancini got the blame for being "an Italian manager" but both managers set up with 1 man up front and played for the draw. Let's hope Mondays game is a better advert for football.

    "If Man City win they will have bought the title" Yeah they bought the best players to make a great team but please tell me which team haven't done that? The irony of fans of the richest club in the world criticising other teams for buying success surely must register somewhere! Yes Man Utd have more fans in China that buy more Man utd shirts than the rest of the world put together but do you really think if Man City win a few titles their shirt sales won't go up as well? When you spend £30million on a player from one of the challenging teams and put him on the bench I think you lose the right to criticise money ruining football.

    "This game shows why the Premier League is so unpredictable and if Man City win will make it more competitive"
    Man Utd if they win will win their 5th title in 6 years and will do so in a season where they've been missing most of their defence and been proved to be nowhere near the best teams in Europe. The fact they still only lost 4 games this season shows just how uncompetitive the league is. The only years they haven't won the league is when other teams have spent vast sums of money to compete. That won't be possible after the financial fair play so the idea this will make the league more competitive is a joke. If you want to add competitiveness get a salary cap in and share the champions league money more fairly to stop the leagues inside the league.

    My prediction: I think Man Utd will beat Man City on Monday and I think we will be talking about the referee on Tuesday. I don't think there is much between the teams and I actually think the Man Utd defence is as poor as I can remember but I don't think City will stop them scoring and I don't think they will outscore them. I just hope it isn't settled by a Young dive and Rooney penalty, because I don't think I could take another week of fans defending cheating or pundits celebrating Rooneys "form".

  • Comment number 54.

    @ dogeared

    Why are you ppl like you even spouting your pointless bile on this column? This is a Manchester derby thread, you dont support either United or City. You seem to have a strange fixation with United especially, always commenting on how we are in 'decline' or 'getting found out' whatever thats supposed to mean. You obviously must like us then? ;)

    As for the match itself, both sets of fans deep down with be biting nails and nervous, i certainly will be. I think if we (United) play a 4-5-1, keep nice and tight and try and play on the counter, we have a good chance. However our defence esp Rio has been very poor lately and I dont hold much confidence in him. This is the sort of game in which we need Vidic, but never mind. Heart says we can get a result, head says we wont.

  • Comment number 55.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 56.

    @51

    Essential that we go 4-5-1 with Rooney switching from midfield to attack as and when required and Welbeck alone as the one supported by Nani and Valencia on the flanks. It could also be 4-3-3 I suppose but you get where I'm coming from hopefully.

  • Comment number 57.

    Shades of '68 when Utd and citeh were going for the title,only this time Utd have'nt got the distraction of the European Cup to hinder their preperation. Also, both played Newcastle and Sunderland at the season's end. Hopefully,my beloved Utd will rule on the night.
    Utd missed a golden opportunity last week,but watching the highlights of the bitters last week-end,they were not all convincing against a team who cannot win any game under Mr Connor.
    Mancini has had a lot to say these last few days,also Kompany and Lescott have had a few comments in the press. In contrast,Utd have been in lock down with no press utterances to deflect them.
    Of interest last week at Wolves,considering the much vaunted youth system citeh are always pushing,of the 18 players in the squad...not one was "home grown". (Richards joined from Oldham at 16)!
    Hell,be fitting if Welbeck pops one in!

  • Comment number 58.

    Phil - I am old enough to remember last time Man City beat Man United to the 1st Div title, in 1968! That time United threw away an 8pt lead as well (remember only two points for a win in those days!) and I think the final match that season was against Sunderland as well.... perhaps the omens are not so good then for SAF?? However, of course United did go on to win the European Cup that year at Wembley, so it wasn't quite as disappointing for fans.

    It must seem somehow strange to a lot of United fans that City (as opposed to Chelsea , Arsenal, etc) are pushing them all the way for the title this year, but back in the day (sixties) there was true rivalry between the two Manchester teams and it looks like those days will be returning again in the forseeable future.

    As for this year, there are still lots of potential 'twists and turns' left, even after Mondays Derby, there are still two games apiece left and all could present 'banana-skins' for either Manchester team. If United win on Monday, then you could say it will be 'all over barr the shouting', but since I can remember the games in the last days of 1968, I won't be convinced until its mathematically certain... one way or the other!

    City must be regretting the impact of losing Tevez for so long this season, but looking forward to his linking up with Aguero(can Manchini really be thinking of bringing back Balotelli??)and United have to learn to stop 'switching off' when they are on top in a game (something previous SAF sides never did!)... they have to carry the threat right up to the last kick.... I think they will!

  • Comment number 59.

    i just hope united bottle it can't understand how a average team are where they are. can't see united winning it if they play evans, he wouldn't get into a pub team, he's an accident waiting to happen!!

  • Comment number 60.

    @53


    congrats to your teams promotion and welcome back to the PL.

  • Comment number 61.

    No matter which colour of Manchester you are, This really is a Tough call.. Both teams will not want to lose, City Need to win, United a draw to stay in control of their own destiny..!
    I am a United fan and whoever wins the premiership will have done so on merit this year, you just have to look at the points distance to 3rd place to see that both United and City have raised the bar this year and made it such an exciting fight to the end..
    Personally I feel If United play Carrick with Scholes.. City will dominate midfield. Carrick can not defend, Gives away stupid free kicks near the 18 yard box.
    I would like to see jones in front of the back 4 .. Valencia, Scholes and Young across the middle Rooney in front of them with Welbeck causing City back 4 problems with his miovement and pace.. Valencia and Young can also give added protection to the fullbacks.

    But looks to be a cracker of a game 'on paper' and I say it has 2-2 written all over it, or 3-2 City if Carrick plays.

  • Comment number 62.

    Come on you Reds!

  • Comment number 63.

    Words of Wisdom ?

    "As a fan of football I just think it will be a shameful sight if we have to witness Tevez celebrating a City title win. If ever a player didn't deserve it it's him. The guy's a disgrace to football and an insult to all true fans of the game. "

    and you accuse me of " bitterness "

    my view on Tevez is slightly different.

    i think its a disgrace how the media and so called fans from both quarters have treated the player but you of course would not see it like that would you now .

  • Comment number 64.

    Chelsea lining up 4 2 4 with 2 attacking full backs against QPR !
    Could be a fun game.

  • Comment number 65.

    @59

    According to Ferguson, Evans is the dest defender in the premiership :o)

    The United fans are clearly worried, and it's hardly surprising given they have been dumped out of all the other competitions - that in itself is proof they are in decline.

    Is Scholes going to save them next season? Not likely is it?

    Giggs is clearly on his last legs, as is Ferdinand.

    All players that need replacing, but eh, Man United don't go out and 'buy titles' apparently.

  • Comment number 66.

    if we win we'll win the league, if we lose or draw, the 3 goals city scored right at the end of the game at old Trafford may prove to be a very costly lapse in concentration as they are all that will separate the teams if we end the season level on points!

  • Comment number 67.

    Even though I'm a neutral I still find this tie nerve wracking, go figger.

  • Comment number 68.

    dogeared....go suck a lemon...it might make you a bit less bitter!

  • Comment number 69.

    Simply put.....

    I hate utd.

    Come on City !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YNWA

  • Comment number 70.

    Completely agree that UTD we don'y buy titles. We're still using the majority of last seasons squad and we're still on top of the league. The likes of citeh have so many players new this year that I don't think people can argue that they have essentially bought the title.

    Think about it; Ferdinand Scholes Carrick Rooney Nani Valencia Evra giggs. All of these players have pulled on a United shirt week in wek out fr years; how many of citeh's players can you say the same for.........

  • Comment number 71.

    ABU's out in force and still a day and a half to go.

  • Comment number 72.

    71.
    At 13:17 29th Apr 2012, scobiedog-SOSOS wrote:

    ABU's out in force and still a day and a half to go.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't take any notice of ABU posts, just the jealous attitude of the most successful British ckub ... Nothing else.. !

  • Comment number 73.

    **Club !

  • Comment number 74.

    This is simply the the biggest and most important Manchester derby up to date. It's too close to call who will win. Think City will have the edge over United, City are recently in good form and United have conceded some goals in their recent matches and dropped valuable points.

  • Comment number 75.

    Most of you guys are forgetting that City play at HOME!, yes at the Ethihad Stadium where Half of the City stands will be filled with Arsenal fans, and the other half City fans who share a common hatred towards 1 small stand of United fans not from Manchester.

    So, CAN Utd win the game?
    Yes
    WILL Utd win the game?
    Not with the help of FA.

    City's Strengths - Having Pacy striker in Aguero, and his lethal partnership with his fellow countryman - even more dangerous imo - Carlos Tevez.

    Recent History that will help City win - David Silva recent form and his partnership with the 2 strikers and Samir Ca$hri.

    City's Weakness - The guy who will play alongside Yaya Toure at the middle of the park, whether it's De Jong/Barry/Milner, Utd will try target him if their Wing play fails to deliver them goals.

    Recent history that will NOT help City win - Mario Balotelli. If Mancini is stupid enough to play him, then he deserves to be sacked, since it breaks the partnership of the 2 strikers, and their partnership to the 2 attacking midfielders.

    Utd's Strengths - Wing play. If you watch City's game against Utd in that FA cup round, 2 of their 3 goals came from their brilliant wing play. Their Important player on the pitch - attacking wise - is Antonio Valencia, the right winger.

    Recent History that will help Utd win - well in the last 2 league games, they lost 1-0 to Wigan and drew 4-4, and from these games, their defence was absolutely woeful.
    This will only motivate the defenders into playing a game of their lives.

    Utd weakness - Their defence/Centre Mids. I'll start with defence, Obviously if Johnny Evans and Rio play at the heart of defence, they will have to stop the unstoppable in Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. The Rightback is the main weakness in their defence, if Rafael plays, then the only thing City will do is attack from the left and take advantage of Rafael's current form. If he doesn't play, and the more reliable Smalling plays, City will take advantage of Evra's forward runs and if they counter attack, there will be a massive hole down that right flank.
    Over to Centre Mid, there's no question that if Carrick and Scholes play, that the only goalscoring opportunities will be long range shots and free-kicks since they have no creativity, unless they bring Cleverly or Anderson.

    Recent form that will NOT help Utd win - Their defence. No question that Evans has potential to be a great Centre back and Ferdinand clearly has the experience, this will be the game where they will give anything to have Vidic back, as seen in Everton game, 4-2 lead and they screw it up.

    After these analysis, I think City have the edge, since they are playing at home and if the lethal combination of the 2 Argentines continue, then who cares about their defence?

  • Comment number 76.

    Re buying titles-
    United spending: £199 million in 5 years.
    Won: 1 Champions League, 4 League titles, 2 League cups, 3 Charity Shields
    City spending : £528 million in 5 years
    Won : 1 F.A. Cup

  • Comment number 77.

    Definitely a case of may the best man win here. Both of these teams have been great to watch this year and the game genuinely promises to be a classic. Both teams have built their seasons on attacking flair rather than a dour grinding out of results and whilst both sets of fans must have been very frustrated at times both of them must be looking forward to this and must think they have a great chance of winning the title. As a Liverpool supporter COME ON CITY!!!!

  • Comment number 78.

    throw all the form books out of the window, Torres is on a hattrick!

  • Comment number 79.

    Come on you blueesss!!!

    Lets hope united don't park the bus and play on the break like they did in January, if not hopefully we can put a few past them, nervous at the minute but if we get the early goal hopefully it can be comfortable! Come on City!!

  • Comment number 80.

    You have to laugh at all the ABU drivel being spouted - especially by DogPoo.
    I don't buy in to all this rubbish about United buying titles when the stats clearly prove that they are outspent year in year out by the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and now City. They do have an aging team and granted a couple of retirements are imminent but in MOST cases the replacements are already at the club.

    I don't support any of these teams and even I'm nervous about tomorrow (don't know why). Can see this being a cagey bore of a game and only coming alive in the last 15-20 mins with the score still at 0-0. Then again I said the same about the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and despite thaty being a bore it certainly wasn't cagey.

    Let's hope that the game is more like the Charity Shield match in terms of excitement.

    And I don't think this game will be a title decider - more twists to come in the last 2 games.

  • Comment number 81.

    76.At 13:49 29th Apr 2012, scobiedog-SOSOS wrote:

    do us a favour mate, jog on with facts, look at last 20 years and how much theyve spent

    ------------------

    75.At 13:34 29th Apr 2012, Krish-The-Dude_CFC wrote:
    Most of you guys are forgetting that City play at HOME!, yes at the Ethihad Stadium where Half of the City stands will be filled with Arsenal fans, and the other half City fans who share a common hatred towards 1 small stand of United fans not from Manchester.

    agree with united fans, but what dyu mean about arsenal??

    --------------------------------

    70.At 13:16 29th Apr 2012, Dawsonius wrote:

    make no sense, keep walking!

    -------------------------------

    10.At 10:45 29th Apr 2012, dogeared wrote:

    United are getting found out at last.

    I said at the start City would win the title and I think they will by a couple of points.

    --------------------------

    yeah really hope we can do it, much thanks to all the support from other prem clubs like liverpool/arsenal, uniting in a common cause against united, come on you bluesss!!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    @78

    Torres firing in goals just before the FA Cup final. Surely he won't put another nail in Dalgleish's coffin.

  • Comment number 83.

    I still don't understand why United fans call City 'Citeh', the irony in doing so only helps to strengthen the idea that United are made up of plastics from around the world!

  • Comment number 84.

    83.At 14:21 29th Apr 2012, TheMaineRazinho wrote:
    I still don't understand why United fans call City 'Citeh', the irony in doing so only helps to strengthen the idea that United are made up of plastics from around the world!

    ---------------

    exactly, supposed to be a manc accent, surprised united fans knows what i sounds like!

  • Comment number 85.

    whereas city's team is made up of plastics from around the world

  • Comment number 86.

    @81 "but what dyu mean about arsenal??"

    He means that the glory hunting fans of Arsenal have now switched their support to City in search of glory.

    Comes with the territory when you are a small club who are bought by an oilarch. How else do you think you get a little bit closer to filling the stadium when you play at home - it is down to the fact that half of the ground is filled by "recent" city fans.

  • Comment number 87.

    @86 *"recent" city fans -aka plastic

  • Comment number 88.

    86- so you might say 'plastics' then?

  • Comment number 89.

    86.At 14:27 29th Apr 2012, racemanracer wrote:
    @81 "but what dyu mean about arsenal??"

    He means that the glory hunting fans of Arsenal have now switched their support to City in search of glory.

    Comes with the territory when you are a small club who are bought by an oilarch. How else do you think you get a little bit closer to filling the stadium when you play at home - it is down to the fact that half of the ground is filled by "recent" city fans.

    ------------

    cheers for clearing that up, bit harsh on our attendanes there, weve been there for the bad times as well as good,

    from wikipedia, mcfc supporters:

    "The club have been previously branded as "everyone's second favourite club"[3][9] due to their reputation as being one of the most tumultuous and unpredictable teams in English football,[3][10] with fans referring to inconsistent results and unexpected events as "Typical City" and media often referring to City as a "soap opera" club.[11][12][13] Events and results labelled as "Typical City" include being the only team to score and concede 100 league goals in one season and the only reigning champions in English football to be relegated. However, despite anguish, many City fans regard success and failure as part of being a loyal and dedicated football fan and specifically what it means to be a Manchester City supporter.[14][15] Famous City supporter Stuart Hall said of City's struggles in the 1990s and 2000s, "You won't keep City fans down. They are glorious. They've cheered non-stop all season. That's why I call Maine Road the Theatre of Base Comedy. A sense of humour is essential. It's a roller-coaster ride."[16]

    Manchester City still retain the highest home attendance of any club in English football history, as 84,569 fans packed Maine Road"

  • Comment number 90.

    @88 just beat you to it

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 81

    that has got to be the most pig-headed, arrogant thing ive ever heard in my life from any supporter!
    'uniting in a common cause against united'??? well obviously your not real fans of your own clubs if you all support the opposition against United so badly? and some ppl on here call United fans arrogant, obviously not!

  • Comment number 92.

    mufcjkk thats what liverpool/arsenal fans are doing because they don't like united and are supporting city in the game tmrw, whats your point, don't pretend you don't know your unpopular youve got a banner 'not arrogant, just better' ...

  • Comment number 93.

    @ 92

    i know my club is unpopular, i dont mind that, just the general arrogance that seems to be surrounding many fans, not just arsenal/liverpool, thats unfairly guided towards United. and im fully entitled to my opinion, thats my point.
    btw thats not my banner, and youve got the 'poznan', probably the most egotistical fan craze ive ever encountered.

  • Comment number 94.

    I just find it rather amusing that Arsenal, Liverpool etc. "fans" have to support City in these games because their own clubs aren't good enough to compete with United.

  • Comment number 95.

    U know it's going to happen.......right?

  • Comment number 96.

    Lets look at the facts for a second.

    Man City can't even fill their stadium for the champions league.

  • Comment number 97.

    94.At 14:56 29th Apr 2012, TheMS267 wrote:
    I just find it rather amusing that Arsenal, Liverpool etc. "fans" have to support City in these games because their own clubs aren't good enough to compete with United.
    ________________________________________

    Other fans find it hilarious that Man Utd fans vigorously support any team that is playing against Barcelona.
    In the end we are all the same :)

  • Comment number 98.

    I like watching barcelona.

  • Comment number 99.

    May the best 'chequeboo' win :)

  • Comment number 100.

    If United win the title, it'll be the poorest Manchester United team to do so in the history of the Premier League.
    I don't know if thats testament to the abilities of Sir Alex Ferguson, or the indictment of the rest of the division.

 

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