There’s nothing worse for a Manchester United fan than to watch his or her team fall short of optimum standard and crumble into the vile hands of defeat. Defeat is cruel, defeat is impure. Defeat for a United supporter is criminal. Such a scenario is unacceptable. After all, they ARE better.
Loss to Manchester City is punishable by severe flagellation, regardless of performance or margin. Seeing the ‘noisy neighbours’ come out on top is a nightmare, one which stays etched in memory and the fear of it returning one day is ingrained onto the cerebrum and stealthily passed between the synaptic gaps every moment of an hour.
Not long ago, Manchester City handed Manchester United one of their worst ever defeats at Old Trafford. They blew six past the United defence as opposed to the one divine blockbuster of a goal scored by Darren Fletcher, which was forgotten as soon as he turned around to take his position for kick off again. It was for the first time in years the sea of red that usually encompasses the great stands at Old Trafford began draining out well before the final blow of the whistle. The red half of Manchester that evening was not to be seen. Manchester was blue and what was deemed ‘inevitable’ by a few home-bred pundits seemed to have begun. The Manchester Power Shift was here.
The debates have always been there. Ever since the Arabs took over, a brimming sense of confidence, regarded as over-confidence in some circles and wishful thinking in most, has made it’s way into a City fan’s heart. Obviously, there were no City fans in India a few years ago, but various blogs and newspapers bring us closer to the ground reality and its highflying reveries in the blue half of the city of Manchester. It’s amazing what a few billion dollars can do to a person.
With Roberto Mancini at the helm and money available in truck loads, the concept of a ‘fantasy team’ was no more fantastic as Mancini pointed and the Arab’s paid. ‘Menacing’, they called them, ‘contenders’, they called them.
For two years, they were just those. Adjectives in print, duds in real. The trophy drought continued, the trash talking didn’t. Finally, in May 2011, City were crowned FA Cup Champions. An embarrassing banner was taken down and various detractors were taken to task. Manchester City had arrived, albeit late, but fashionably so.
They’ve started this season strongest and no signs of rust are visible. They’ve had some major problems off the pitch, Carlos Tevez having a large piece of that pie, but they seem to shirk those off and concentrate on the’ football of it all’, finally.
United started ablaze, pumping goal after goal past hapless teams before they went a gear behind and began faltering at crucial stages and finally broke against Mancini’s men.
While the City squad is a collection of trouble makers and vague characters, the United bunch have a dedicated, determined but very limp pool to select from. Injuries to players are so frequent, a consistent first eleven is hard to come by. New talent like Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling and the Da Silva siblings have already had their fair share of injury time-outs which puts a big question mark on the longevity of their careers a la an Owen Hargreaves.
The only thing holding City back is the needlessly cocky attitude of the players. The likes of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli ramble on about obscure and fallible things. The Tevez-Mancini incident in the Champions League is just shameful and Tevez deserves nothing less than an axe from the main squad and a nasty punch to the teeth.
Last night, City cruised to a 3-0 away victory over a strong Villareal side, while United scrambled and stumbled on their way to a 2-0 win over lesser known Otelal Gulati. Two contrasting wins which puts a perfect perspective on both the team’s current form and ability.
The blue moon is indeed rising. Manchester City grow stronger every season and they’ve reached the point which every top team faces and is scrutinised on. Expectation. The weight of expectation now hangs over City and time will tell whether they carry the load or fall flat.
Here’s the thing about Manchester United, though. They’ve faced the most adverse of problems, right from mid-fielders filling in for centre backs to tragic accidents taking away an entire squad. Such anomalies are a constant feature in the United camp. Yet, we see them come on top, year after year after year.
It’s the United attitude that sets them apart from everyone. Even when the players aren’t at the top of their game, their mindset gets them the required results. Sir Alex is a motivational guide in himself, and he’s been doing this for the past 25 years. He won the treble with a bunch of kids and could do it this year too. He could do it in any year, as a matter of fact.
While City seem to be on a glorious rise, seeing them reach the dizzy highs of Manchester United is difficult to foresee. I predict a United league victory and CL final appearance and a whole bunch of Indian supporters for City by the end of this season.