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.