Wednesday, 20 January 2010

City is Life - the rest is mere detail

Or so says The Boy.

Last night was the first leg of the Carling Cup Semi Final against Man United.  It should have happened earlier in the month but was postponed due to the weather.

It was a strange day, I took The Boy to Doncaster station early doors as he was in London for the day then went home and back to bed.  Unfortunately my series of '10 minutes more' turned into four hours later and I eventually got out of bed at 12 noon - not ideal as I had a list as long as my arm but I must have needed the sleep.

So I drove over to Manchester all tense and excited - thermals and thick socks on ready for a nail biting few hours at the City of Manchester Stadium hoping that this year might just be City's year.  I  met The Boy from his train and we nipped into Kro, Piccadilly for a bite to eat but he was even more jumpy that I was and really keen to get to the ground.  We got to COMS about twenty minutes before kick off and the atmosphere was electric.  Both teams were out warming up and the City fans over by the away team were in fine voice.  As expected (by City fans at least) Ferguson had not put out 'the kids' but had named a pretty much first team and strong side - he would love to say that we don't matter but I think his actions show that these noisy neighbours are getting under his skin.

With Adebyor out for the forseable future after the terrible events at the African Cup of Nations and Santa Cruz injured (again) we started with what has to be the shortest attack in the premiership - Tevez, Bellamy and Wright-Phillips (with Tevez arguably the tallest of the three at 5ft 8").  However what this gave City was pace and width.  Mancini made efforts to sure up the midfield by partnering the mighty and solid De Jong with Zabeleta and Barry.  A makeshift back four of Richards, Boyata, Kompany and Garrido made up the 10 men holding out hopes in their hands in front of the continually impressive Shay Given.

As everyone made their way to their seats the noise grew and grew - 40 thousand singing Blue Moon as City dipped the lights, the United fans responded with Flares which we all knew they were going to - if we (the fans) knew then surely the club knew and should have searched for them?  The 1969/1970 team came on to the pitch before the match - whilst this was not the last team to win anything of note with City (oh no that was a whole 6 years later - but still 34 years ago) it was a reminder that success has been a long time coming.

The first 25 minutes were nervy as City failed to settle or get hold of the ball, United brought wave after wave of attack - particularly down the left through Giggs and past the not yet back to full form Richards. Their endeavors were rewarded by a Giggs tap in on 17 minutes.  Disappointing for City to concede in those circumstances when United only had 2 men in the box and City had 5 - but hey this is City we never make it easy.  The Goal did, however, galvanise the City team and we started to get more control and time on the ball and surge forward.  Tevez and Bellamy both cause the United right back difficult with their pace and when Bellamy slipped past him again he tugged on his shirt and Mike Dean (not a referee I have a lot of time for tbh) awarded a penalty.  Serendipity it was - Tevez jumped on the spot, stepped up and fired past Van der Sar (who I still rate as a goalkeeper - just a shame he had to leave Fulham and join the rags).  This was about 4 minutes before half time and the crowd were buzzing again.

After the break City came back out and kept up the pace - it was a much more even competition now but we still sat a little deep on a 1-1 draw at home for my liking.  The second goal came around the 60th minutes with Tevez scoring again after a cleared (ish) corner was put back in the box by Kompany.  Everyone was jumping and singing - City are after all the underdogs and this was not the expected result even after the 4-3 defeat to United in September at Old Trafford (ah the joys of Fergie-time).

City were then subjected to wave after wave of attack from United, excelent saves from Given and Onuoha (who came on for Boyata) and great tackling from De Jong kept City in the game.  Tevez was substituted for the inept Benjarni after running himself ragged - Benjani was ineffective and how he can seriously be after a new contract I do not know, he make Fat Rob (or even Fat Bobby Taylor) look quick.  His movement both on and off the ball is seriously lacking and his commitment to chase balls or get stuck in to tackles is completely absent.

At 90 minutes referee Dean added on another 5 (I had thought 3 or 4 but should expect 5 with United really) and all around bit their nails and prayed for the defence to hold and the final whistle to come.  When it did the relief was palpable.  We knew that on paper and recent form we were good enough to beat them at home but as with most derby games - form means nothing.

A great result for City and a deserving win - we will go to Salford next Wednesday with the confidence of knowing that we gave them a game and a half last time were we there and have only improved since then.

It was easy to get up at 5.30am this morning to come to fancy London, and it's good to be  City fan today.

Am in London for two days for an interview and Work and seeing my Brothers new flat this evening (and exchanging Christmas presents).  Fingers crossed for me at 12 noon today please as I could really do with getting a job!

Last night for a few hours City was life - and the rest truly was mere detail.

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