1. So, there we have it. Just like Manchester City, we’ve managed to throw away an eight point lead. To pick up four points from four games at this stage of the season is so un-United that I don’t really know what to say about it. What are we playing at? Last weekend’s game was probably more painful than last night’s but that doesn’t change the fact it’s bitterly disappointing losing to that lot, particularly now it means we’ve surrendered our position at the top of the table.
2. When the line-up was announced people were rightly surprised. Park hadn’t played any football in the league since coming on for the last ten minutes against Spurs at the beginning of March. Antonio Valencia is in the running for our player of the season. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes often struggle when in the same midfield. Still, you wondered if the manager had a trick up his sleeve because he has pulled off great results with players no one would have picked before kick-off in the past. However, as badly as we did play, Ferguson was so close to getting away with it. Essentially, we were one set piece away from getting the point we needed. David de Gea didn’t have to pull off any good saves, just like Joe Hart didn’t, and in the second half we actually had 55% possession. But it is small details that make all the difference in these games and City got their small detail right, with Vincent Kompany rising higher than Chris Smalling to score. That of course isn’t to say that City weren’t the much better team on the night, because they were, and they thoroughly deserved their result, but if Smalling had got his head to that ball first we were looking at an excellent 0-0 and when we were lifting the trophy in a couple of weeks we wouldn’t care less we were 2nd best on that Monday night.
3. That aside, it was so disappointing to see that line-up and it was so disappointing to watch that performance. Whilst I completely understand the need to pad out the midfield and the problems that poses thanks to a lack of investment and injuries to Tom Cleverley, Anderson and Darren Fletcher, we had to start Valencia. It’s not as if he doesn’t contribute to his fair share of defensive duties as well as having the ability to take on a few players single-handedly when on the attack. Rooney was isolated up front, barely getting on the ball, and when he did, his first touch let him down too often. There was no urgency from the players, we didn’t know what we were doing and we paid the price. We needed one goal to more or less win the league and we didn’t come close. Before the game Ferguson claimed we hadn’t gone there for a draw but that simply isn’t true. We were not set up to win that game, not at all, despite all that strength on the bench. Roberto Mancini said we paid the price for being cautious and he was right.
4. It’s not over until it’s over but for the first time all season I will now concede I don’t fancy us to win the title. That doesn’t mean I won’t rule it out or would be too surprised if somehow we managed to pull this off, but the momentum has swung in their favour now. We have to make up their eight goals over the next two games, obviously winning both matches, and we can hope that Newcastle take points off them. If the game was at the Etihad I’d think it was more or less over but City could struggle away from home, particularly if they’ve allowed themselves to get carried away after their result against us. As it stands, Newcastle are on the same points as Spurs and just one clear of Chelsea. They need those points for Champions League football and I’d just LOVE it if they beat them…
5. Short and not so sweet. I can’t really bear to think about it any more.
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