Friday, 27 April 2012

The Biggest Manchester Derby

When Sir Alex Ferguson grudgingly agreed that this was the biggest Manchester Derby of his tenure, you knew (at least then, if not already before) the Premier League had been given a right old shake-up by the Sky Blue Citizens.

The Noisy Neighbours have made quite a din this season

This is the tail-end of yet another fantastic title race in the Premier League where Manchester felled everyone in the way as the Red and Blue halves of the city slugged it out in a bid to outdo each other. It went beyond bragging rights or the two ‘big’ derby matches every season. It was a full-blown, dominant title charge, with the local rivalry adding extra spice.

The beginning of the story is easily summed up in one sentence - City were cruising to the title. They had dealt United and their fans a horrid shock with the 1-6 win at Old Trafford. Generally, all fell before Mancini’s men. It mattered not whether Balotelli or Dzeko started; 3 points were almost always achieved.

THAT moment

Then, something odd happened. All was rosy as long as Silva, Aguero and Kompany were fit and in form and cruising. But after defeats at Chelsea and Sunderland, City suddenly found themselves unable to buy an away win. Their newfound woeful away form culminated in defeats at Swansea and Arsenal that saw them first surrender their lead and then, seemingly, the title.

The princely Spaniard's strike looked to have written United's name on the trophy

Then, something odd happened. Manchester United were crushing teams underfoot, and one would’ve thought that once the 8-point gap was opened up, the last few games would be a procession for the Red Devils. But in the next two games, they lost to Wigan for the first time in Premier League history, and then scored four and failed to win at Old Trafford for the first time in my (and I suspect, most people’s) memory. The gap was nibbled down to 3 points.

Wigan pulled off a shocker, beating United for the first time ever in the Premiership

United’s recent ‘choking’ hasn’t been pretty watching for their fans, but it has given this fixture an unexpected new significance and generated interest among the neutrals. It has exposed frailties in the United squad that need addressing. But crucially, unlike what City fans would love to believe, it’s no indication at all that United are falling to pieces at the wrong time.

I say that because we’ve been here before. As recently as last season in fact. Chelsea had made up impossible ground from 15 points behind in February to just 3 points behind in late April. They had to play leaders Manchester United with 3 games to go. A win would’ve seen The Blues go top on goal difference. Chelsea had beaten Man United in their previous league fixture against each other. Does the scenario sound familiar? How did that end?

This season may be different though. City have a great squad, and are unbeaten at home. Motivation isn’t lacking. Having previously silenced the sniggers among the Old Trafford faithful who hardly ever regarded this as anything close to their biggest game of the season, City will now look to cement their place as United’s new biggest rivals, and write their name on the trophy. Given United’s experience, habits and nature though, the game is impossible to predict.

All I can say for sure is this: This is the title decider. The biggest Manchester Derby, ever. Be it myopic referees, beach balls, over-thick woodwork or dodgy ball shape, get your excuses in now, because the winner of the game probably takes the title, and will do so deservedly.


  1. like this post

  2. nicely written :)

  3. Dear Akilesh,
    Thank You for this amazing article.You have made the game even more interesting for us.

    -Dardanaak subscriber


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