Manchester City edge out United in pedestrian 'biggest derby ever'

May 1, 2012

Fergie goes ballistic as City go top of Premier League after 1-0 victory over Manchester United

Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0. On a critical night at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester United lost the lead at the top of the Premier League, and Alex Ferguson lost the plot, as the Sky Blues of City edged the Manchester derby thanks to Vincent Kompany's headed goal seconds before the half-time whistle.
City's 1-0 victory hands the initiative back to City in the title race with Roberto Mancini's men now within touching distance of their first top-flight title for 44 years. If City win their remaining two matches away at Newcastle and home to Swansea they will pip United to the Premier League title, and in the process make Ferguson even more furious.
The United boss went ballistic on the sidelines in the second half as he watched his side submit meekly to City in a match that failed to live up to the pre-match hype. The spark for Ferguson's rage was a tackle in the 76th minute by Nigel De Jong on Man United substitute Danny Welbeck.
As the England striker writhed on the ground in agony, Ferguson and Mancini squared up to each other on the touchline and only the intervention of the fourth official Mike Jones prevented the confrontation from turning ugly.
Though the pair shook hands at the final whistle, Ferguson wouldn't let it lie and he later accused Mancini of "badgering the referee the whole game". That prompted a biting response from Mancini who said: "I was talking with the fourth official about a foul on the pitch and Ferguson said some kind words to me. I answered him and after it was finished. But I can understand because at this moment the tension is high."
Mancini then mocked Ferguson for having accused him of currying favour with officials, something United have been accused of in recent years: "He [Ferguson] doesn't talk with the referee or the fourth official? No, never. I didn't speak with him, he came towards me, but I can understand. I said nothing against him; I only spoke to the fourth official."
City's win moves them into first place, ahead of United with a goal difference of plus seven, and the Red Devils must now hope they win their remaining two matches against Swansea at Old Trafford and away at Sunderland. Failure to do so will almost certainly kill off United's title chances, as Ferguson graphically laid out in his post-match press conference. "I think they are in the driving seat now," he said. "They only need to win two games. But it's not over yet. As long as there are games to play it is not over. But they have an eight goal advantage and that is a big advantage at this stage of the season."
Ferguson had only himself to blame as he went into the game with a defensive line-up in which Wayne Rooney cut a lonely figure as the frontman in a team that lacked ambition. City in contrast looked the hungrier of the sides and their industry was rewarded with a goal in stoppage time of the first half, as Kompany headed David Silva's corner past David de Gea in the United goal.
Despite the triumph - and the fact City are now top - Mancini continued to insist his side are underdogs: "It's a great victory but we have two difficult games left and United have two easy games," he proclaimed. "I am very happy that we are top but it doesn't change anything. Football is crazy… [and] Manchester United are still favourites."

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

Although Ferguson's tactics have been criticized, I believe that any other strategy would have seen United destroyed by City in the first half. Contrary to popular belief, United does not have the attack to cause City any problems up front, nor the defence to prevent them scoring. When all is said and done, I believe that when the history is written, Ferguson will be remembered for taking this team as far as it has gone with such a relatively mediocre team, perhaps the weakest team United has had in 2 decades.