U-N-I, T-E-D, United are the team for me… Yes, we’re still singing a few days after the Manchester derby, in which United demolished City and showed why Manchester is, and always has been red. Mind you, most of us haven’t stopped singing since the win at L’pool three weeks ago.
After that victory against last Easter’s Champions, and the dismantling of Villa last week, it was the turn of the proper English Champions to try and stop the Van Gaal roller-coaster. It seemed like they might too, as City went ahead after less than ten minutes. United looked to be on the ropes already, with Pellegrini’s side coming out of the blocks fast to try and make it a fifth derby victory in a row. Thankfully the back four realised that the game had started after that, and when De Gea lumped the ball forward from a wayward Phil Jones backpass, Fellaini ‘cleverly’ used his back to bring the ball down to Herrera, who crossed a ball that was eventually turned in by Ashley Young. From then on, it was United all the way, and just before the half-hour mark, Blind combined with Young, whose cross to Fellaini was so good that it was a straight-forward header by our tree to put United into the lead. City can consider themselves lucky that Captain Kompany didn’t get sent off before half-time for his lunging tackle on Daley Blind.
The second half started as the first had finished, and with Kompany replaced by £32m defender Mangala (probably cause they were worried that he would eventually be red carded), United went for the jugular. Wayne Rooney’s fast-thinking (yeah, I know) played Mata in, who was marginally offside. The Spaniard was clever enough to wait for Hart to open himself up and pass the ball underneath him and into the net. Then it was ‘party-time’, and a matter of how many United could score. Unfortunately it was just one more, as Smalling headed in another excellent Young cross to make it 4-1. Aguero had just about enough time to get his 100th goal for City and make the result look slightly less ridiculous, but the damage was done, and we were in seventh heaven when the final whistle went.
Rather than becoming a fourth successive derby defeat, this turned out to be United’s sixth win in a row in the league, and City’s fourth away defeat in succession. It meant that United have now consolidated third place and move four points ahead of the noisy neighbours with six games to go. Before United played Tottenham, I thought that 10 points from the next five games would be very good. United have now got 12 points with one of those five games still to play (against Chelsea). And they’ve won the last four games convincingly, unlike a few ‘lucky’ wins earlier in the season.
Players like Young and Fellaini have really stepped up to the plate. We knew Young was good (who can forget his performance in the 8-2 win against Arsenal?), but he’s now performing at a high level consistently. We also thought that Fellaini would come good once he’s fit and he has someone who plays like Pienaar did next to him at Everton. This makes it more surprising that he was played further back last season, when the then management team knew him better than anyone else. Valencia too, who as we mentioned a couple of weeks ago is doing everything Van Gaal asks of him, even if he’s limited compared to others. With Carrick in the side, it all fell into place nicely and the team has clicked at the right time.
In other games, Chelsea left it late to win 1-0 in their own derby against QPR, which made sure none of the chasing pack start hoping that there might be a title race on; Arsenal scored early at Burnley, with Ramsey getting the only goal of the game; L’pool beat an already ‘in flip-flops’ Newcastle 2-0 to stay in fifth place, but reduce the gap to fourth placed City to four points; Tottenham faltered once again and lost 1-0 at home to Sherwood’s Aston Villa; and Southampton won 2-0 at home to Hull to go up to sixth, just one point behind L’pool; At the other end, Leicester won again to close the gap on those above them and make sure they don’t go down without a fight.
In other news, Raheem Sterling was in hot water when he was pictured taking what is alleged to be ‘laughing gas’. If he was after something funny, he could have just watched L’pool’s last season review. Or read his team-mate’s Balotelli’s tweets, who continues to concentrate more on his ‘stand up, shut up’ campaign than to playing for the club that pays him his high-wages.
Oh, and how about former L’pool ‘legend’ Luis Suarez? He’s come out saying that the players that he bit in the past were partly at fault! Maybe he’s right as how dare they show him flesh when his teeth were so close to them? Defenders like Giorgio Chiellini should indeed ‘shoulder’ some of the blame, no?
On Wednesday, Jurgen Klopp announced that he will be leaving Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season. Cue the English media trampling over each other to tell us that he wants to join the best league in the world.
Meanwhile, Sky have announced that subscription prices are indeed going up from this summer, even though they had insisted that over-paying for Premier League rights wouldn’t affect the customers. Considering they won’t be showing Champions League football from next season, this might be a step too far for many loyal subscribers.
Back to United, the next game is at Mourinho’s Chelsea on Saturday the 18th of April (5:30pm UK time). This is the one where I thought United would lose from the five games. They probably will, but we can at least look forward to it with our heads held high, and not be worried even if we’re playing against the Champions elect… COME ON UNITED!!!