The Battle of Manchester takes centre stage
Posted Sunday, April 29 2012 at 20:18
To make matters worse for United, City seem to have rediscovered their away form that had been so damagingly lacking since Christmas. They cruised to a 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers later the same day.
This moved City within three points of United and means they can take over at the top of the Premier League on goal difference if they beat them tonight. Ferguson said publicly that this had given City the initiative in the title race, claiming “It makes the game at the Etihad a really important game. A decider really.”
It’s easy to dismiss this as just the mind games for which he is so famous when faced with an opponent who he thinks is a real threat.
If so, what are we to make of Roberto Mancini, who has never failed in recent weeks to claim that there is no chance of Manchester City winning the Premiership and to congratulate his Old Trafford rivals? More mind games, maybe?
Whether or not this is the title decider, there are some fascinating subplots to the game. City may be playing for the future of their manager Roberto Mancini.
He must be feeling insecure in the hot seat given the amount of money spent in assembling a team who are definitely not world beaters on recent form.
One City player in particular, has something to prove. Carlos Tevez’s long absence following his failure to play against Bayern Munich has had much to do with his team’s current position in second place; he has been seriously missed. Tevez should say sorry to the fans, and a strong performance tonight would go some way towards such an apology.
And United will want to erase the memory of that 1-6 home defeat at their local rivals’ hands earlier in the season. It can’t be often that a team loses by such a margin but still ends up champions. How long away that game seems now.
For these and many other reasons, this makes Manchester the focus for sporting fans in the whole country, and much of the World tonight.
Happily in East Africa, while it is a Monday evening game, Tuesday is a public holiday and many of us don’t have to worry about getting up early for work. Make the most of it.
When not thinking about football, Guy Maughfling is a director in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Advisory business in East Africa. The views expressed here are his own.