Manchester Derby: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Beautiful

Robin van Persie Celebrates his game winner

by The Casual Observer on December 10, 2012

“Football. Bloody hell.”

If your American friends ever ask why you get up early on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings to watch the Barclay’s Premier League, turn on a replay of this match, take a step back, and quietly relish in the newly converted football companion you’ve just created.

Manchester United Starting XI:

De Gea

Rafael – Ferdinand – Evans – Evra

Valencia – Carrick – Cleverley – Young

Rooney – van Persie

Manchester City Starting XI:

Hart

Zabaleta – Kompany – Nastasic – Clichy

Silva – Toure – Barry – Nasri

Aguero – Balotelli

The GOOD:

The match itself provided all that is good about Premiership soccer.  In a match that lived up to all the hype of 1 vs. 2, reigning champion vs runner-up, old-school vs new world – it was a match I both didn’t want to end and couldn’t wait for to be over.

As you would expect, both teams came to play from the opening kick-off with energy, pace, probing balls, and counters.  City forced much of the early play as they inquired of United’s porous defense, and in the 5th minute it looked as if they had found a weakness.  Ferdinand was called for a foul and Balotelli put a ball on goal that De Gea cleared for a corner. Robin van Persie was able to clear the resulting set piece.  Balotelli took another stab in the 11th, but that effort sailed over the bar.

The match’s early stages elicited memories of Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle with George Foreman.  Absorbing blow after blow, United rope-a-doped them into the 16th minute. Evra cleared the ball towards the midfield line where it was headed on by Ashley Young. van Persie chested the ball back into Young’s path, who ran at a City defender before passing on to Rooney at the top of the box.  Rooney, shrouded in converging blue shirts, suggested he was going far corner.  Joe Hart bit, and Rooney’s change-up to the near post left the City keeper’s knees buckled, wrenched to the spot. 1-nil to United.

City’s only true threat for the remainder of the half came on a 23rd minute effort by Sergio Aguero, but De Gea was up to task.

United, content to concede possession, struck again on the counter in the 29th minute. Surging down the right flank, Valencia played Rafael on an overlapping run, who sent a low cross in towards Rooney.  Rooney one-timed a sweeping shot past Hart for his 150th Premier League goal making him just the sixth, and youngest, player ever to reach the milestone. The red half of Manchester took a 2-nil lead into the break.

City’s plight reversed dramatically at the inclusion of Carlos Tevez in the 52nd minute – funny how removing Balotelli from the pitch can energize a club – and they were finally able to get one back at the hour mark.  Two world-class saves by De Gea (the second of which from his back) and one blocked shot by Chris Smalling went for naught as United couldn’t clear the danger. Tevez eventually found Yaya Toure away from the cluster, and the Ivorian was able to bury it in De Gea’s far corner from 12 yards out.  United 2 – City 1.

Game on, and moving forward the referee had his hands full. After zero bookings in the first half, seven yellows were brandished in the second – one each for Jones, Ferdinand, Rooney, Barry, Tevez, Toure, and the spineless Samir Nasri.

City seemingly rescued a point (and their two year unbeaten home record) in the 85th minute. Tevez sent in a corner that was cleared only as far as  Zabaleta at the top of the box.  De Gea never stood a chance against Zabaleta’s cracker.  United 2 – City 2.

Enter Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, and the two-and-a-half man wall:

Manchester United 3 – Manchester City 2

The BAD:

Why always him?  Because he’s a punk, that’s why. Balotelli was subbed off not long after the start of the second half, and he was not happy about it.  He stormed off the pitch, past Mancini, and straight into the tunnel – though he would later return to the bench to continue his pouting in public.  Tevez has been far and away the better player on the year, and Sunday was no different. Balotelli had little (if any) impact on the game, and an errant, no-look backheel was the last straw for Mancini.  Mario’s reaction typified his character; he’s a selfish, spoiled brat, and I’ve got to imagine City are on the cusp of cutting him loose – classic addition by subtraction.  Here is Mancini’s take on Balotelli after the match:

“I love Mario [Balotelli] but it is important for him to start to think about his job. He has everything to play well but he can’t continue to play like today. We wanted more from him.

“When you have a player that has Mario’s quality, you cannot understand why he continues to throw it out of the window. It is incredible.”

Incredible indeed.

The UGLY:

I was at a Major League Baseball game in October that was held up for over 30 minutes due to fans throwing objects onto the field.  Luckily no one was injured, unlike what we witnessed at the Etihad on Sunday. After the final goal, City fans started throwing projectiles, coins in particular, at the United players (It actually began earlier during a Rooney corner kick – Wayne was seen picking up a coin and showing it to the official).

With United celebrating the winner in extra time in front of the United supporter’s section, a coin caught Rio Ferdinand above the left eye.  Fanatics that throw anything onto the pitch should be facing a lifetime ban.  Period.  End of discussion.  There is absolutely no room for this.  If fans want to rant, rave, curse, gesticulate, talk about Rio’s momma – more power to them. They’ve paid their money and are entitled to say just about anything their dirty little minds can think up.  But what they don’t have is the right to put someone’s life, eyesight, or ability to make a living at risk.  Manchester City have apologized for the incident.

If that weren’t enough, one powder blue idiot decided it would be smart to invade the pitch and have a go at Rio.  Luckily for the fan, Joe Hart stepped in and saved his ass.  I’m not sure of the fan’s intentions, but I’m pretty sure being confronted by an irate Joe Hart wasn’t on his list of expectations. Just an astonishing display of stupidity. The fan, 21 year-old Matthew Stott, has apologized for his actions.

It’s unfortunate that such a thrilling match had to be marred by a slew of classless City supporters. So far, nine people have been charged in the extra curricular activities that took place on Sunday.

The BEAUTIFUL: 

Football. Bloody Hell.

Manchester United Scorecard (0-10)

Wayne Rooney, 8 – another man of the match performance for Wayne. His flat out, top speed sprints back to the defensive third are what impressed me most. He’s the epitome of a team player, and his effort and fire were infectious on Sunday. Oh yeah, there were also those two goals he scored.

van Persie, 7 – classic RVP scores his fifth game-winner of the Premier League season.

Young, 7 – Ashley was in a mood on Sunday. He faded in the final 10 minutes, but his first 80 were lively and aggressive. His run on the counter to set up Rooney for the first goal was a thing of beauty – United doesn’t win on Sunday without him.

De Gea, 7 – made a slew of highlight reel saves, but more importantly looked comfortable when the box was crowded. Nice to have you back, David.

Smalling, 7 – a surprising number for a substitution. He was all over the place on D, stifling several City surges on his own.

Rafael, Ferdinand, Evra, 6 – the effort was off the charts, may have done better at clearing the ball on City’s first goal.

Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, 6 – serviceable, if unremarkable, performance by the midfield as a whole. Valencia seemed a tad rusty.

Evans, 5 – eventually came off with an injury; struggled to keep up with City’s forwards in the first half.

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

ABMU December 10, 2012 at 11:17 PM

City deserved a point. Why Mancini started with City’s equivalent of the Mogwai from Gremlins, I’ll never know. Once Tevez came on, they were a different team. At this point, it’s a 2-horse race, and both teams have winnable games for the rest of December. Jan 13th should be interesting for both teams…

@ABMU December 11, 2012 at 1:59 AM

You must be joking right?

City got what they rightfully deserved which is nothing.

The score should’ve been 5-1 if the referees got their act together.

American Manc December 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM

He’s got a point.. It was essentially a two goal swing when Young’s goal was wrongfully called back for offside and then City turned around and scored immediately after.

ABMU December 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM

To my anonymous friend,

My reasoning is this: City had the vast majority of possession (in the first half it was 70+% vs 30-ish), and overall 53%-47%, they had more shots at goal than United, and more corners. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/20571835). And before you think I’m just spouting statistics, I did watch the game, and thought it very evenly matched.

Granted, United had a goal disallowed in the second half, from which City then got a goal back, but David Silva could have also equalised in the 79th minute but for a De Gea’s shoulder and the crossbar.

I’m curious – where do you get the “It should have been 5-1 Utd, but for dodgy refereeing” line? Utd had a few chances, and the only major decision against them was Young’s goal disallowed. Or is that a reaction to old Red Nose not getting his usual quota of decisions going his way?

@ABMU December 11, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Yes, you are spouting statistics and useless facts an Arsenal supporter would give out when a match didn’t go their way. Possession means little, especially at the Etihad against a team like Man City. Look at Chelsea v Barcelona or Celtic v Barcelona, possession means jack and isn’t indicative on who is the justified winner of a match. United were clinical, worked hard at their game plan and ended up deserved winners because of it.

You are also giving “what if” chances (Silva shot saved by De Gea) as proof they deserved a victory. What the hell are keepers there for then? to not save the ball?

As for the 5-1, United were counted against leading to the goal scored by Yaya Toure which shouldn’t of happened had the right decision been called. Evra was also clearly taken out by Kolo Toure but that wasn’t given as well.
I could suggest more events that were overlooked as well, Tevez easily could’ve been sent off and a lot of if’s and buts but who wants to get that petty.

I’m only talking about clear decisions whilst you’re just being bitter fan. Don’t worry though, I’m sure there will be billions more spent in the future a team who is and will always be in the shadow of Manchester United.

roger December 11, 2012 at 4:50 AM

Carrick surely a conteder for MoTM? He was world class today, yet people don’t realise or see it. Top class player, very underrated and was one of the best out there today.

For British Eyes Only December 11, 2012 at 10:43 AM

What could possibly be going through Nasri’s head at that moment? It completely dismisses the whole point of a wall. Hart feels he has the remaining empty area covered – that’s the reason of him telling you where to stand. This was just an awful touch (good ball as well – don’t mean to discredit RVP’s skill). It was pretty humorous to see the game end in this fashion and witness the home side/supporters show their true colors.

American Manc December 11, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Seriously, pathetic on Nasri’s part. Not to mention Hart and Mancini wanted Tevez on the wall as well. Mancini said he was screaming for Tevez to get back into the wall as he was walking away from it, but he was too far away for Carlos to hear him. Just a cluster of mistakes by City on that last goal.. RVP had to be straight giggling with excitement at the look he had from that angle.

Love the post-match interview with Rooney and RVP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKdFvC4CAP0

“I think I’ll have a shot..”

American Manc December 11, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Also, did you happen to catch Nasri’s yellow card? I haven’t been able to find a video of it, but it has got to be the douchiest yellow card ever earned. I’m celebrating the fact he’s not on my squad.. he belongs at City.

Gary Neville doesn’t think too highly of him either: http://www.skysports.com/video/inline/0,,12602_8322774,00.html

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