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Manchester City
Posted by Wallace Poulter on 04/30/2012

Let's get one thing straight. There's more of a chance of Rachel Weisz growing bored of Daniel Craig and giving me a call and of Lenny Henry becoming funny again than City repeating the 6-1 victory over United.

No, really. Yes it could happen, but the victory at Old Trafford was a set of circumstances we are unlikely to see again. City deserved the victory, but United's suicidal defending in the last five minutes might well have been the most bizarre thing I've seen from a Ferguson side. I mean, greatly appreciated an all; get to dance in the streets and chant 6-1 to the heavens, but still bizarre.

I have continually counseled that Ferguson is the master of the squad, winning titles year in and year out when frankly he faced better first 11's at other sides. So it is this year where I'd take City, and Spurs for that matter, to win the majority of games against United if it was only based on the starting first team. Patrick Vieira may have thought that the return of veteran Paul Scholes was a desperate move by Ferguson, but unfortunately I didn't. I felt at the time that United would win the title, and I still do regardless of tonight's result.

I know... it kills me to write that. However that's the reality, as much as the fan in me wants City to win their remaining games.

I was surprised when Scholes retired. That he had lost a step or three was obvious and his tackles had become more mis-timed than ever, which was difficult to imagine. However he remains one of the better passers of the ball in the world and I had expected that he would have become a player-coach this year taking up the final place on the United squad and being used just as he has. An occasional game here and there. Hopefully that doesn't include tonight.

What Scholes and Giggs bring to United is continuity. As the new players join the team they are indoctrinated into the United, and Ferguson's, way. This is City's biggest weakness. The club doesn't have that collective memory of tried and true success. Time and again, United win the title in the latter stages of the season. City could win the title this year, but the club has to have a corp of players; Hart, Kompany, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Johnson and Richards playing for the team for another two to three years and being successful before City reach that level of expectation. For as much as United fans show their historical ignorance as to the great City teams of the past, there is more than a kernel of truth concerning the past 30 years when it could be said that City had no history.

Can City overcome? Of course the club can. United doesn't win the title every year and City have an opportunity to really change the climate of English football should they do so this year. But City have to take the long view. This is about being relevant, one of the League favourites year in and year out. If we look at this impartially, which is darn difficult, the club has made huge strides this year. If you want to be brutally honest I think City would have already won the title if Mourinho was in charge rather than Mancini. The Italian's decision to play Nasri rather than Milner has I believe cost the team the points that would have won the Championship. That being said, second place, playing for all the marbles tonight at this stage late in the season is a magnificent achievement. Regardless of what happens, City grow from this season.

I've heard that Mancini has been worried that he would lose his job if he didn't win the title. Even though I believe that City will not win it this year and that Mourinho would have done a better job for the first time I'm advocating not bringing in Mourinho even if he becomes available. Mancini has built a good team, and a useful squad. City can win the title under Mancini and that's good enough for me.

Tonight? A 2-2 draw, maybe even a 3-1 United win. I'd love to write that City will do as well as they did against United at Old Trafford, but then there was no pressure on the club. As I wrote in the title, my heart says yes, but my brain sees this not turning out well. Hopefully I'm wrong.

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Posted by Sir William on 04/30/2012

I am happy that you were wrong.

Wallace Reply So am I. I'm stunned that United didn't score at least one goal, but their formation with five in the middle didn't have enough support going forward to work with Rooney. I did its job clogging the midfield, but United never pressed forward which I found strange, but was pleased to see.

Posted by Justin on 04/30/2012

1-0...all we can ask. Tied for the title and up on goal difference. Only City can crush your soul like this. I'm not stupid enough to ignore Newcastle away (fighting for Champions League) as a very difficult fixture. I'm also not stupid enough to ignore Queens Park Rangers fighting for survival in the Premiership. Give me two more 1-0...and i'm in heaven...until then, I still think that United have the easier road in. Great to win the Double over the silent neighbors though!

Wallace Reply indeed. You know Mark Hughes is rubbing his hands at the thought of handing the title to United on the final day of the season.

Posted by Aru Abraham. on 04/30/2012

I believe that the lost come from Sir Alex for keeping they meaningfull players out in this much. And i can say enough Alex!!!

Posted by Michael on 04/30/2012

On the biggest stage today, City played positively and with a togetherness they seem to have lacked at times in the final third of the season. How do you see the final two games playing out? Both tough games for different reasons. Do you think they can maintain the focus they showed today?

Wallace Reply Last two games, I think City end up with four more points. Focus is going to be an issue especially against Newcastle where I'd much prefer Mancini to revert to the diamond formation with de Jong sat in front of the back four. He's just not as effective when paired in a duo with Barry back there.

Posted by greg on 04/30/2012

Has Rachel called yet? It was not 6-1 but that the rags did not get a shot on goal is unbelievable. When I looked at the starting lineups, with the exception of Rooney, there was not a single player that I would take over the City counterpart. I guess this is a tribute to SAF that United is where they are, but I would not be suprised to see them drop more points in the last 2 games.

Wallace Reply Alas no call from Rachel! That's a great point about City's lineup and I wouldn't even take Rooney over Aguero. I do not expect City to take maximum points the final two games, so yes we'll need to hope that United slip up.

Posted by vc on 05/01/2012

What a match. Apart from the first ten minutes, we dominated and controlled the game. We should have scored a second goal. But I am worried to SIlva not getting that much involved, I mean, I literally worship this guy. But the results are coming and I can certainly live with that.

Wallace Reply Silva has been over used this year. It was one of the reasons I wanted Joe Cole to be picked up as someone that could come in and cover for Silva. Nasri was bought and ended up playing a lot, when to me he and Silva should be spelling each other and Milner should be getting more of an opportunity.

Posted by David on 05/01/2012

Wally, please write more!

Tense match, I think I used up a full day's allotment of heart beats in one two-hour stretch! Couldn't believe Valencia didn't start. Who do you see getting 4th? And who was your MotM?

Wallace Reply I still see Spurs getting fourth. Man of the match was Zabaleta. I've been surprised that he has played instead of Richards recently, but today was superb.

Posted by Jerry on 05/01/2012

Lets look forward Wallace. Is there any need to change the lineup going into Toon next Sunday? Maybe Richards for Zabaleta? Really nothing can wrong with that change.

I always read your columns and know your biggest concern for City is not having a set starting XI. You always bring up that United are the champions that they are biggest they have a set starting XI. Lets mark this date that the tables might have shifted for your concern. City have the starting XI you and I have dream of, while United are the ones who are looking for the right combination. Hopefully Tevez stays to keep this lineup in tact.

Wallace Reply I really think this was the day that Ferguson failing to land better left and right backs came back to haunt him. Jones is a good central defender, but right back isn't the place for him and Evra has struggled all year.

Posted by Mike on 05/01/2012

I agree, I'm an LFC supporter, but I've liked Mancini's personality/graft all year & when he told off Tevez/Balotelli (even though they're back), it was admirable. But also I'm desparate for United to lose the title like they've won it so many times. Swansea/Sunderland seems pretty easy, even though Steve Bruce isn't Sunderland coach anymore (didn't it seem like they always played Steve Bruce when they needed a result?), Newcastle & QPR is difficult. I'm not a City fan, but United has not deserved the title all season, and how they keep winning is beyond me, especially after their pathetic European campaign, to see United & Chelsea win a trophy would be too much to contemplate after their awful seasons...

Wallace Reply I'm expecting Liverpool to be a lot better next year. They'll have a full off season to get the new players integrated into the side. After watching how poor United were today, I now think that both sides take four points from their remaining games. But we shall see.

Posted by Maxwell D on 05/01/2012

Had City lost, do we curse Mancini for playing Tevez over Balotelli? (Balotelli, who I might add, seems to come good in these types of critical games.)

Wallace Reply Balotelli proved he has the character for this type of game when City beat United in the FA Cup last year. That being said, if you were taking money on one player to score in a 1-0 victory I'd have said Tevez, so I think it was the correct call.

Posted by PM on 05/01/2012

Wayne Rooney spent the entire match trying to get city players booked - because he knows as well as everyone that the worst United team ever can only win with penalties against 10 men. Newcastle ought to be a much harder game.

Mancini has messed up on occasion and never seems to pick the team I would, or play the formation I would. But it has been a magnificent season - 83 points, 88 goals, beating United 1-6 and he has a touchline fight with the purple-nosed one - how brilliant is that? I don't really like Mourinho, but that's ok because he likes himself enough for both of us.

Wallace Reply yeah I kind of enjoyed Mancini getting into it with Ferguson!

Posted by Dr. Eno Iyagbaye, Toronto on 05/01/2012

I hope the team can repeat their collective drive against Newcastle United. The game looks very tight on paper but City would crush Newcastle and dance their way home to celebrate their premiership title with ease against QPR. I support the same line up but Richards would be a better offensive player than Zabaleta in this one! Good luck boys and remember never to go defensive and watch out for Cisse and Ben Arfa!!!!!

Wallace Reply I worry greatly about how well Newcastle could play against City.

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Wallace Poulter Wallace Poulter is an award winning video game producer, designer, industry consultant and writer. He has been a football fanatic since the day he moved in next door to Brian Clough. "Cloughie" being the acknowledged genius that he was promptly moved out and went to manage Derby. A serviceable senior school left-back in his youth, Poulter played one season of Sunday league football as a striker proving conclusively that he was a serviceable senior school left-back! Today Poulter remains involved with football as a licensed referee and most recently as a consultant on a Football MMO.

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