Monday, February 14, 2011

THE SHOT FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON

During the weekend I devoted a great deal of my time to drinking Amantis Reserva and strolling around in tiny tight anticipatory circles. I let my ill-advised steps carry me to the remote and sat, nay perched, on the sofa to take in the Manchester Derby. These occasions always tug at your stomach and shred your thought patterns, but in these heady days of challenge, there is not quite the same feeling of impending disaster that washed over us all before, say, Brian Horton led his troops out for a tactical masterclass with the red brethren. Then you didn't know whether you would survive the ignominy of it all

Don't look now

These days, City's tight little triangles (vegetable samosas) and chicken tikka taka pass and move will keep the most well-balanced and aggressively set-up host thinking about his next move. And so it came to pass in the Theatre of Prawns, that a visiting side, looking for all the world like liddle old citeh in their sparkling sky blue tops, managed to pass with aplomb whilst their neighbours, and the less than agile Paul Scholes in particular, kept parping the greasy spheroid into row 6 by the half way line.

A more frequent sight in the future
I took a little look at Micah Richards, a boy built like a Sherman Tank, who, on previous occasions would give the impression of a Rhino stamping to get into a Devonian scone shop full of dawdling pensioners, but on this one gave a performance of honed athleticism, lung-busting willingness and a delicious balance of poise and power. If he played like that every week, there would be nobody to shift him from the England right back spot, let alone the City one.

The two other star performers in this well-oiled City team, were the little metronome Silva, whose early miss was one of the few smudges on a copybook that read "excellent and thoughtful" throughout the proceedings. It has been said in many quarters that his eye for a pass emphasises his worth to this City side. Nobody picks out a runner like David Silva. He was followed into city's hall of fame by the resolute Kompany, yet again revealing himself to be one of the players of the season in the Premier League. It would seem trite to pick out one tackle -there was so much that was top class about his performance- but his block on Rooney was a masterclass of timing and accuracy in a split second where anything can go wrong and, for City at Old Trafford, usually does.

Silva: chicken tikka taka
Only the one-eyed would not want to mention the input from the other side: United, whilst looking cowed by City's precision passing, could thank Smalling for a complete lack of the nerves that the Blue half had so hoped would materialsie. Alongside Vidic, he hardly put a foot wrong. Whilst Giggs once again belied his advancing years, the same could not be said for Scholes, who contented himself with a series of chipped sideways passes into the crowd. Until the goal that will have melted the collective press' hearts this morning, Rooney too had spent an unfortunate afternoon skanking passes with his shins and misdirecting what little anger he could muster. Yet again, as the story of this eason will surely testify, United weathered the storm and, without playing very well, ran home with the points. This may have been an outstanding season for surprises and twists but the eventual winners will not have excelled themselves.Too many games have been lost, too many performances have failed to convince, if, as now begins to seems likely, either United or Arsenal lift the pot.

Flared nostrils
There are 11 league games left. It is a lot to ask for, along with a snowdrift of cup commitments, to claim City are still in there fighting. Now the stampeding herd behind us can be heard, nostrils flared and saliva flying. Chelsea and Spurs can both pass us by with their games in hand, but that would be both cruel and unlikely. For City these days are made of pretty solid stock. They were good for a point on Saturday and they will be good for quite a few more if they maintain this level of performance through to May.

It is all still to play for and, as Mike Summerbee was moved to say in amongst the pond of swaying kelp on Sky, as the world and his dog salivated over the one piece of precision in Rooney's workday, "they'll be looking over their shoulders now". Taken to its logical conclusion, one day soon, it will be City looking over their shoulders and the likes of United will be looking forwards. At us.

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